The Masonic Theater
On May 31st at the Masonic Theater, the people of San Francisco got their first and last chance to be part of the Post Pop Depression tour, the very short and most likely the last tour for rock legend Iggy Pop in support of the album of the same name. The self-funded collaboration between Iggy and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age is now No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock and Alternative Rock Album Charts.
Located in the Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, The Masonic Temple is a Beautiful stone and marble building accented by many sculptures and a huge elaborate mosaic window designed by artist Emile Norman that greets you upon entering. It’s not exactly the kind of setting you would expect to see a performance from the Godfather of Punk. But for this album and tour, it’s the perfect backdrop. These are not meant to be the no-holds-barred rock and roll shows we are used to from the 69 year-old legend. This time around, he’s a more mature, seasoned, professional and, we dare say, happier Iggy.
The supporting act for the Thursday night show was the ambient, experimental rock of Noveller, the solo project of Brooklyn-based guitarist and filmmaker Sarah Lipstate. One woman with one guitar in front of over 3000 people whose asses seemed glued to their chairs. Lipstate did not let it stop her from giving her all to the set. Almost like painting a picture, she crafted a sonic landscape that would bring you to a place where you could actually see the music in your mind’s eye. It was truly a wonderful experience that seemed to be lost on most of the 30 and 40 somethings in the audience.
After a short intermission, the sound of Native American drums brought everyone back to their seats from the bar line and outside smoking area where most of the smoking going on was not tobacco. But fans did not stay in their seats for long as the band, jokingly dubbed the Iggiots, took to the stage to sound of the drums and screams from the crowd. The live band includes Queens Of The Stone Age leader Josh Homme, fellow Queens members Dean Fertita and Troy Van Leeuwen, Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders and Chavez’s Matt Sweeney. They started the set by launching into the opening riff of the classic “Lust for Life.” The lights came up to reveal Homme and crew in blackish-red, possibly shark skin suits. They looked and sounded sharp as nails. With the flip of an 80-foot curtain, Iggy appeared, dancing in his black suit with no shirt underneath. Everyone was on their feet and the assigned seats didn’t seem to matter anymore as the aisles filled with dancing fans.
You could the feel excitement in the air as they went into another classic 1977’s “Sister Midnight.” During a little pause after the song, Iggy thanked everyone for coming and took off his jacket. “Turn the lights up I want to see everybody,” he said. “Wow I can see you all, thank you for coming.” Holding his suit jacket over his shoulder, he gave us a little insight to the next song “American Valhalla.”
“Sometimes when I’m in a weak moment I wonder if there is a heaven,” he said. Looking around the room he smiles and rolls his eyes then laughs “Would I get in?” He asked. “Would I even like it?” Then the lights dropped and it was back to business.
Homme definitely takes on the role of band leader, leaving Iggy to have the freedom to do what he does best—take full advantage of the stage. It is very apparent he’s having a good time by the way he carries himself and the almost constant smile on his face. The energy from Iggy and the band was palpable all the way in the cheap seats. For Homme and company, they get to play with someone who without a doubt had a profound influence on them as musicians.
The set is geared to give fans a lot of the songs from Iggy’s Berlin area releases The Idiot and Lust for Life. He throws in classics like “Baby,” “Tonight, “The Passenger,” “Sixteen” and incredible reworking of “China Girl” while still highlighting instant Post Pop classics such as “German Days,” “Chocolate Drops,” “Paraguay” and the their single “Gardenia,” with “Repo Man” tossed in for fun and always ending with the very appropriately entitled song “Success.” Though this may be a more mature and mellow Iggy, old habits die hard. During a rousing rendition of his song “Funtime” he flung himself into the audience not once but twice. “Now we are having fun!” he sung as the crowd pushes him back on stage.
It seems odd that many reviewers talk like Iggy has been gone and this is a come back when in actuality he has been on tour for about the last four years, both solo and with the Stooges. However, the Post Pop Depression tour definitely feels like his swan song and it’s a spectacle that shouldn’t be missed. Unfortunately for most fans, the tickets go fast and most of the tour is sold out. But luckily for the west coast the upcoming show at the Greek holds 5,870 and there are a few seats still available to catch Iggy in his exciting new element.