Pop goes the HOB: Iggy and the Stooges Invade Atlantic City

Iggy Pop & the Stooges bring legendary stage show to the House of Blues at Showboat Friday night

When Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders were feted with a tribute show, courtesy of VH1 Classic, four years ago in Atlantic City at the Trump Taj Mahal, there was quite a party scene at the bar after the show.

The members of Kings of Leon, Incubus, sultry Shirley Manson and Hynde hung out and swilled drinks with the unwashed masses. Hynde even jammed with the cover band. It was a serious blast that should have madeRolling Stone magazine’s “Random Notes.”

Everyone who took the stage earlier with Hynde was hanging out afterward except one notable performer.

Iggy Pop was M.I.A. When Pop, who was a guest star at the tribute concert, failed to show, Hynde was asked where the leader of the Stooges was after the concert.

“Who knows?” Hynde said. “Iggy is a legend. He can do what he wants to do. I would love it if Iggy was here, but he performed tonight, which is already more than I could ever ask of him.”

Hynde was on the money. Pop is indeed legendary. He’s perhaps the most significant rocker who is not a household name.

Pop has written an array of explosive rock songs. “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Search and Destroy” and “Gimme Danger, are some of Pop’s most visceral work. On the poppier side, Pop, now 63, co-wrote “China Girl” with his pal David Bowie and scored a hit with the radio friendly “Candy,” which featured a duet with the B-52s Kate Pierson.

Sure, the man who many consider to be the “Godfather of Punk music” is an ace tunesmith, but Pop, who performs Friday, Aug. 27, at the House of Blues, is best experienced live.

One of the faults of contemporary rock is that there is lack of danger and unpredictability and that’s never been the case at an Iggy Pop (or Stooges) show. You never know what Pop (aka James Osterberg), will do when he’s under the lights.

The Michigan native was moved to raise the stakes in live performance after witnessing Jim Morrison front the Doors at the University of Michigan in 1967.

Morrison was one of the first rock stars who crossed over to enigmatic figure when it came to live performance.

But Pop took the live show to another level starting in 1968. He reportedly invented the stage dive, and unlike the dark and dreary Morrison, there has always been a sense of fun about Pop’s shows.

While recounting a muffed stage dive, Pop once told late night chat show host David Letterman that he spotted two hefty female fans to dive into. However, the girls parted like the Red Sea and Pop hit the concrete.

But that’s just part of the show for Pop, who has rolled around over broken glass, smeared his chest with peanut butter and vomited onstage.

It’s the rock n’ roll circus for Pop and that’s something that is sorely missing in many of today’s live concerts — with a few exceptions of course. Pop’s live shows are akin to a circus performer walking the tightrope. And even though Pop is over 60, he still lets loose like he did a generation or two ago. His long, straight hair flies about as he careens around the stage bare-chested singing about being bored, needing a home or being a wild child. You can’t take your eyes off of Pop when he grabs the microphone. There are so few artists that are as riveting as Pop, who regrouped with the Stooges in 2003 and released the album The Weirdness with the Stooges in 2007.

“There are a few basics that you need to cover if you’re going to be in a rock band,” David Lee Roth said. “For harmony, you have to check out the Beach Boys. For guitars, dig into ZZ Top up until 1983. For performance, look no further than Iggy Pop. He’s simply amazing. He’s an absolute wonder.”

Not a bad endorsement from a guy who is a total showstopper. I had the pleasure of catching Pop in Austin for the South By Southwest music festival in 1996 and 2007 and he was just brilliant in front of a big crowd. He also worked it hard in front of a tiny audience at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia 14 years ago.

The guy is a pure showman.

And don’t take Pop for granted. He won’t be around forever. Take advantage of the opportunity to see him while you can.

Also, the word is that a film about Pop’s early career with the Stooges is in the works. If any rocker deserves a bio-pic, it’s the kid who grew up in a trailer park in Michigan and turned the rock world on its ear.

Maybe after playing the House of Blues on Friday, Pop will finally head over to a bar at the Showboat or the Taj Mahal. However, it would be surreal to see Pop anywhere but on a stage. That’s where he belongs. Pop isn’t like the rest of us and that’s very cool in an age when it’s difficult to discern rock star from fan. But it’s easy to distinguish Pop from anyone else.

When I told the late comic George Carlin about Pop’s incendiary show, he laughed and said, “That’s what life is all about. We get our ticket to the freak show. It’s a cavalcade of entertainment. Anyone who can truly perform like that is someone we should all see. If we don’t see someone like that, we’re all missing out.”

Iggy Pop 
: House of Blues at Showboat, Atlantic City 
: Friday, Aug. 27, 8pm 
How Much
: $47.50-$60


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