Iggy & the Stooges live at the Coachella Festival, Indio, CA

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Friday, May 2, 2003 @ 3:18 PM

Iggy & the Stooges Reunion at

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If I could have seen one concert in my entire life, this woulda been it. If had to trade in every other rock show I've ever witnessed for just one, this would be the one. If never saw another gig in my life, I'd die happy because I saw the motherfuckin' Stooges, baby!

Arguably one of the greatest rock bands ever, and certainly amongst the most dangerous, Iggy Pop's first band managed to invent/define punk, metal and death rock over the course of three brilliant albums from 1969 to 1974 (The Stooges, Funhouse and Raw Power) before imploding in a burst of white light, white heat, drugs, alcohol, and violence.

Since then Iggy has gone onto stardom, the rest of the Stooges either died or faded into relative obscurity. Yet the band's rep has gotten bigger and bigger over the years. With everyone from the Sex Pistols to Nirvana to Monster Magnet to Marilyn Manson to the White Stripes (who also played and were fuckin' god-awful) citing them as a major influence and the whole garage rock revival owing them a major debt, Iggy finally agreed to reunite with his former partners in crime the Asheton brothers (Ron on guitar and Scott on drums, respectively) with Stooges fanatic Mike Watt on bass (replacing deceased Dave Alexander) to perform a one-off concert.

How much did this show mean to me (and thousands of others)? Well, I paid $75 for a ticket, drove three hours south and sat through the all-time worst festival lineup I have ever witnessed just to see it happen. Yes, even piss-poor sets by Mars Volta, Sonic Youth, Johnny Mars, and the aforementioned White Stripes (arguably the worst band on the planet despite what the critics tell you…and I can potentially LOVE blues and out of tune drugged-out guitar players too!), couldn't detour me from fighting my way to the front row to see the Stooges unite onstage for the first time in almost 30 years.

And what a show it was….

They opened with "Loose" and as Ron's Strat tore a hole in the sky, Iggy cam bounding out like a super-charged snake, writhing, dancing and stomping like this show was his last. They punched into "Down On The Street" next and let the dirty, chugging rhythm seduce the crowd. Then they brought out the big guns and tore through "I Wanna Be Your Dog," with Iggy on the floor screaming bloody murder and Ron firing of leads like an assassin on the prowl.

Next, Scott started pounding on his toms and we got a dose of "Dirt" in all of its sleazy, hypnotic glory, with Watt hammering that slinky bass line like his life depended on it (and it might have too since this was the only song he seemed a bit confused on and Iggy is known for tearing the heads off clumsy musicians). "Real Cool" was next, a nice choice for the hardcore fans. "1969" and "No Fun" followed and sent the crowd into a frenzy. Shit, even the little kids started eyeballing the stage, scratching their heads, and saying, "Hey, I know this song!"

As if all that wasn't enough, the band pulled a major ace out of their sleeves in the form of Funhouse sax player Steven McKay, who sauntered out and blared through the triple threat finale of "1970" into "Funhouse" into "L.A. Blues." The band became a wall of sound at this point, the sonic equivalent to an out of control Mack truck on the rampage as they barreled through the last third of the set. McKay honked noise, Scott and Watt pounded out furious jazz-inspired metallic beats as Ron proved to every guitar hero on the bill who invented this shit, and Iggy simply out-danced, out-rocked, out-sang and outshined every act on the bill.

Boy, for a bunch of guys in their 50s, The Stooges sure seemed alive, vital and, dare I say, fucking important here in 2003. We need a band like to return from the dead and prove to these pussy-ass, lily-white crumb-snatchers what real rock n' roll sounds like, what real danger is all about, what a real BAND sounds like.

Complaints? Hell, that's like winning a billion dollars and then bitching about wanting a billion and one! But I guess if I had to make one, it's that they didn't play anything off Raw Power. It's understandable considering Ron was relegated to bass on that one (with James Williamson replacing him on guitar), but it woulda been nice to hear "Search & Destroy" or the title track.

Other than that it was perfect and I pray there are more gigs to come. I hear that the Asheton's back Iggy up on some of his new album so maybe that will inspire some more one-offs at least. Until then, I will simple revel in the fact that I got see one of the greatest bands ever perform THE greatest concert I have ever seen, one that I honestly thought would never, ever happen.

The fuckin' Stooges, man….. I still can't believe it….

All photos by Frank Meyer

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