Music review: Iggy Pop & The Stooges are punk-rock dynamite at Yoko Ono's Meltdown Festival

5.00

Royal Festival Hall

What have Iggy Pop and Yoko Ono got in common? He’s punk, she’s peace. While he was shooting up, she was bedding down. And, despite first appearances perhaps, they’re not even really contemporaries: he’s 66, she’s 80. Yet, she’s chosen him to headline this year’s Meltdown at the Royal Festival Hall, which she’s curating.

The venue’s modernist concert hall, is an interesting space for Iggy. The formalness could dampen other artists’ energy. But from the moment Iggy bounds on stage, you know that won’t be case. He’s kinetic, energy crackling before him.

Three songs in with "Search and Destroy" he catches the pace - and strangleholds it tight for the rest of the evening. Eliding into "Fun House", he cries ‘Before I die, I want to invite everyone to dance on stage with me’. By the song’s end, he has a backdrop of pogoing fans, young and old. Security look anxious, as the fourth wall is well and truly demolished.

He's naked to the waist, he's wet, he touches the fans. He punches himself; he spits. He rolls around despite a stiff-looking leg. He is what he is, and always has been: a punk-rock dynamo. Unperturbed by a stage-diving accident in 2010, which left him with a bloodied face, he hurls himself into the crowd at every opportunity. "I Wanna Be Your Dog" sounds as visceral as every time, as if it’s just broken free from the aural framework governing all other sound, cos it just don’t give a stuff. That constant, single piano note connects to the crowd like a strand of tonal sinew.

His distinctive physique overlies real mental gristle. Despite the occasional touch of R&R, he's never really stopped music, be it recording or performing. He was apparently inspired by David Bowie’s work ethic on their fabled trip to Berlin. Just over the river at the V&A, Bowie is being celebrated in a more ethereal way with a collection of his stage costumes. He released a new album in March, but has no plans to perform - nor has he for the past decade. While Bowie does God-like, Iggy does gritty punk-rock, in sound and spirit, and there’s no doubting he does it because he just wants to. It’s all the more impressive limp and scrawn and all.

As the close draws, he asks for the lights to be turned on "so I can f***ing see everybody’. Coated in his enthusiasm, like fine sweat, the crowd look energised - they’ll be taking a bit of Iggy home with them.

All, oddly, thanks to Ono.

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