I recently reviewed American Valhalla (tinyurl.com/zubvalhalla), the amazing film about the making of Iggy’s landmark comeback record Post Pop Depression. The band is led by Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme and features QOTSA members Dean Fertita and Troy Vanleeuwen as well as Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) on drums and Matt Sweeney (Chavez) on bass. The Valhalla movie shows some of the triumphant Post Pop tour, but this date from 2016 at London’s Royal Albert Hall is a smashing success. Kudos to Eagle Rock entertainment for allowing this entire show to be on free stream.
This is a rock show like no other. Beautifully and professionally shot, with a minimal stage, the band is up and vamping through the changes to ‘Lust For Life’ when Iggy pops up, like a whirling dervish. The band, all in matching red tuxedos (!) are having a great time and providing especially stellar backing vocals. An abrasive, metallic take of ‘Sister Midnight’ from The Idiot follows, then ‘American Valhalla’ from Post Pop Depression, Iggy repeating in the lyric: “I’ve nothing but my name.” The coolest thing about this band and their choice of material is that there are no Stooges tunes. They start with the Bowie produced records of the mid 1970’s and move forward to the very Bowie-esque touches of Post Pop.
By the sixth song of the set, the band is plowing through ‘Some Weird Sin’ from The Idiot and Iggy has jumped into the crowd. He gets back up on stage, no shirt, a cut on his temple, bleeding, and totally rocking out. What more could you want from an Iggy show? The band does a great arrangement of ‘Funtime’ (a song I just saw Hoboken’s The Bongos cover see the review at tinyurl.com/zubearlbongos) with the whole band (including drummer Helders) singing strong backup. The Idiot theme continues with ‘Tonight,’ in which Homme provides a striking solo and offers Iggy a sly grin when he’s done. ‘Sunday’ turns into a 12-string guitar duel at the end, with Homme and Vanleeuwen really tearing into the tune.
‘German Days’ from Post Pop is an industrial, grinding wonder that sounds like it was from the 1970’s. I must mention that Iggy is a complete ball of energy throughout this show, and he is in full, complete control of his voice. He sounds as vital and dangerous as ever. The next four songs are the meaty part of the set, beginning with a strident version of ‘Nightclubbing,’ featuring not one but two epic Homme solos, followed by a superb, poppy version of ‘Gardenia,’ one of the best songs on Post Pop Depression. Then a celebratory ‘The Passenger,’ bringing the London crowd to their feet. Then there is a great take on ‘China Girl,’ replete with steel drum and toy piano, ending with a truly heroic guitar solo.
The encores start slow but are busted wide open when they play Iggy’s title song from the Alex Cox film Repo Man. Iggy tears this one up. Next was ‘Baby’ from The Idiot, the band sounding like Can trying to play the Moody Blues’ ‘Tuesday Afternoon.’ ‘Chocolate Drops’ featured Josh Homme playing some great slide and a stagehand joining in and hitting some field chimes(!) The band ended up with ‘Paraguay,’ Homme switching to bass and Sweeney to guitar. This take is very much like a classic Iggy song, until he gets to the end and starts swearing like a longshoreman. Telling the crowd “that was nothing personal,’ then they close out with ‘Success’ from Lust For Life. An amazing, twenty-two song tour de force is over.
This must have been the show of the year in London. This is what the underbelly of rock looks and sounds like, with a little spicing up from Josh and his crew. Iggy is still a vital, essential artist and he deserves your time and effort. Fight off the Post Pop Depression and stream this show!