Iggy and the Stooges at Riot Fest, 9/21/13

IGGY & THE STOOGES at RIOT FEST | 9/21/13 The Stooges came out on stage like a burst of fire and wind from another part of the world and got going with "Raw Power." From there, it was near constant dramatic movement from Iggy Pop, who struck poses as he choreographed how and where he would move next. This was when he wasn't waving his hands in the air and getting the crowd going with exuberant thank yous to us for showing up. Getting to see and hear James Williamson play guitar alongside Mike Watt on bass, Steve Mackay on saxophone and even a fill-in drummer for Scott Asheton would have been surreal because of, yes, the sheer power of the performance except that it was so visceral it simply kept you riveted.

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Williamson probably hasn't played in the Stooges, or even with Iggy, in decades, but the guy added a certain something that gave the music a darkness and fire, along with the headlong urgency the group had before he rejoined. Many of us have heard "I Wanna Be Your Dog" for years, and the main riff is easy to stumble across when you're messing around on a guitar, but tonight, it was faster and much more ferocious than any studio recording could do justice to that it was practically a new song. It didn't hurt that Iggy was swaying, jumping and otherwise running around with the song singing with that deep, iconic voice.

The Stooges mostly kept it to the classic material with a few new songs thrown, including closer, "Sax and Money." But there were some pleasantly unexpected barn-burners in the set, as well. During "Funhouse," Iggy invited folks on stage, and the stage filled up quickly as the band laid out a bluesy jazz groove that seemed a daring choice for a show like this. In getting people up on stage, Iggy also proved, without having to spell it out, his continued ability to connect with the fans. That kind of personal touch is a big part of the band's enduring appeal.

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"No Fun" is a classic songs that has had a ripple effect on the punk bands that followed, and this night The Stooges imbued it with an anthemic power that left no question as to why a band like the Sex Pistols ended its first career run in San Francisco in 1978 by playing that song. "Search and Destroy" was especially electrifying -- not to mention another song some of us have heard countless times, but which these guys breathed a vital energy into with not holding back.

"Your Pretty Face is Going To Hell" was thrilling to get to witness toward the end of the set as Iggy signaled out a girl down front as a launching point for the song -- a ploy he didn't use during any part of the rest of the show. When The Stooges were finally done, it felt like you got let back into everyday reality but the better for having taken that ride with the band.

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