Ushers leading audience members to their assigned seats isn’t very punk. With reserved seats well over 60 bucks and some reaching up past a hundred, Iggy Pop and his Pop Depression Tour at the Fillmore Miami Beach was a far cry from his days with the Stooges and their bloody shows at sweaty underground clubs.
Still, this was no Stooges atmosphere. After a slow start, that same punk spirit was in danger of being bottled up in its genie’s cage and stored on a dusty knickknack shelf. Then, out stepped Iggy Pop.
He came onstage armed with a brand new record, Post Pop Depression, and the most overqualified backing band in the world: guitarists Josh Homme, Dean Fertita, and Troy Van Leeuwen from Queens of the Stone Age, Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys on drums, and Matt Sweeney from Chavez on bass. Dressed in black and wearing red dinner jackets, the band rumbled through a collection of songs that both revitalized Pop’s
Pop’s signature limp is more pronounced than ever. His hip and spine already mangled from years earlier have only deteriorated, riddled by time and use. At 68, some would say it’s time to start wearing sensible clothing, perhaps adopt a cane full-time.
No fucking way.
By beginning the night with “Lust for Life,” Pop established immediately that he’s nowhere close to trading in the microphone for a shuffleboard stick and that the song’s chorus rings as true today as when it first appeared in 1977.
Three songs in, his black jacket was tossed aside, and his naked torso whipped back and forth, not as easily as it used to but with all of the exuberance of a man a third his age. Pop was also battling a cold because he was “stupid enough to go up north.” He introduced “American Valhalla” with a commentary on fighting and fighting to stay alive, particularly in South Florida and Miami, a place Pop now calls home. At this point in his life, Pop is a lot like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail; you’d have to chop off all his limbs to physically keep him from performing his punk duties and being the man he’s always been.
Like the songs on the set list, the crowd was a mix of old and new. A father in a black, crushed-velvet jacket led his young daughter by the hand, past the line of middle-aged fans affluent enough to afford the pricey seats in the orchestra pit. Meanwhile, two nymphets skipped past and around security, who rushed after them like children chasing butterflies with nets.
Down in front, fans clawed and grasped at the rock icon, prompting Pop to reach back, smiling throughout. Twice he lapped the Fillmore, leading a parade of security through the cheering, flailing arms of the crowd, both in the lower sections and higher.
The sound was rich and thick — almost permeable — with Homme and company marrying Pop’s own darkest, David Bowie-influenced rhythms with vampiric, QOTSA riffs. This may be the only time in his career that Homme will play second fiddle to another rock star, and by the look of his body language, he couldn’t have been more thrilled to be doing so.
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SHOW ME HOW
Between the cacophony of “fucks” blaring from Pop’s mouth, spitting on the ground, all the weirdos in the crowd emerging from their crawlspaces and waving their arms wildly, and at least two separate stage invaders, this finally became a proper punk show. In addition to his latest cuts — including “Paraguay” and the Chuck Berry/LSD-inspired “Chocolate Drops” — Pop played all the hits: “China Girl,” “Nightclubbing,” “The Passenger,” and “Success,” to name a few. In return, the audience showered him with a much-deserved standing ovation.
“You’re a good-natured, Miami crowd,” he said. “Thank you.”
No. Thank you, Iggy.