Iggy Pop has created plenty of lore at South By Southwest over the years, both with the Stooges and on his own – and particularly a near-riotous 1996 solo performance outside the famed Driskill Hotel that convinced festival and Austin city officials to move their free shows to another occasion. His “Austin City Limits” taping Tuesday night at this year’s SXSW was a tamer affair, but just as memorable.
With a new — and, Pop has said, final — album, Post Pop Depression, due out Friday, he played a generous hour and 50-minute set with the all-star team that made the album — Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, who produced and co-wrote the set, QOTSA bandmate Dean Fertita (also of the Dead Weather) and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, as well as QOTSA’s Troy Van Leeuwen and Chavez’s Matt Sweeney on bass.
It was only the troupe’s second show, following a surprise March 9 warm-up gig at the Telegram Ballroom in Los Angeles, but it sounded like a band that had been together for years — with Homme smiling like a proverbial kid in a candy store — as well arguably as the tightest and most accomplished group that’s ever backed Pop. And the 68-year old icon clearly felt the power behind him, behaving with a bit more restraint than in the past but still a dervish who was bare-chested by the night’s third song. He used the “ACL” cameras as props and made several forays deep into the crowd on the floor in front of him.
And after delivering the inflamed rant against contemporary culture and information overload in the second half of the new “Paraguay,” Pop smiled as he told the crowd, “Nothing personal.”
“It’s a f— of a big deal to f—ing come out for anything, so we’re gonna keep playing,” Pop informed the ebullient crowd at the Moody Theatre, and the 22-song setlist featured eight of Post Pop Depression’s nine songs — all of which crackled in their live renditions — and also focused on the two albums David Bowie produced for Pop during the 70s, on which Homme modeled the new album.
Favorites such as “Lust For Life,” “The Passenger” and “China Girl” were rapturously received, as were deep tracks and rarities that Pop hasn’t performed in decades (“Success”) or ever before this month (“Baby”). The instrumentalist put their mark on all concerned, fleshing out the electro minimalism of “Sister Midnight,” “Nigtclubbing” and “Mass Production” and tearing into urgent rockers such as “Sixteen,” “Fall in Love With Me” and a particularly frantic “Repo Man.”
Pop, Homme and company play a second show at the Moody Theatre on Wednesday, while the Post Pop Depression tour formally begins March 28 in Seattle, with a European leg launching May 4 in Stockholm, Sweden.