Monday, December 15, 2003

Iggy's still got it

By Chris Varias
Enquirer contributor

As a member of the pioneering punk-metal group the Stooges, Iggy Pop gave mankind its finest hard-rock album, 1970's Fun House. But mankind never truly gave back to Iggy. He's a cult figure, not a rock superstar, and for over 30 years he could only watch as watered-down followers enjoyed the fame and fortune that should have been his.

But he's not a bitter man, and today, at the age of 56, he's working at his nihilistic-rock craft as hard than ever. He reformed the Stooges for a string of reunion shows and brought them into the studio for Skull Ring, a new album featuring contributions from Green Day, Sum 41 and Peaches.

The most striking sign that Iggy still cares might have been saved for Covington. Pop and his road band, the Trolls, did a radio-promotion show for local rock station WAQZ-FM (97.3) at Jillian's. Would any other rock icon allow himself to be dragged into Cincinnati on a Sunday night to play a promo gig for about 400 people? Ig did, and he made everyone's day, delivering the 30-to-45-minute performance (37 minutes) as promised to the fans, who received their tickets through the station for free.

Pop and the Trolls (guitarist Whitey Kirst, drummer Alex Kirst and bassist Pete Marshall) focused on Skull Ring material. The songs themselves were of average quality, very similar to the things Pop has been churning out the past 15 years or so - songs affirming his existential angst ("Whatever," "Inferiority Complex") and songs affirming the fact that advancing age only makes him a dirtier, older man ("Perverts in the Sun," "Superbabe.")

No matter the quality of the material, Pop's spirit was strong throughout the show. His shirt was off by the fourth song and the mic chord was rapped around his neck soon after. Generally speaking, the man still knows how to get around a stage. There were no rolling-in-broken-glass episodes, but he hurled his body around in a manner allowing those in the back of the room to get a good look at him.

On one occasion, the new material stood up to the classic Stooges stuff. "Here Comes the Summer" came off like a rewrite of the Stooges' "Real Cool Time." But there wasn't a match for the genuine articles, and the crowd ate up the renditions of "No Fun" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog."

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