IGGY AND THE STOOGES performing "Raw Power"
Hammersmith Apollo, London
May 3, 2010
Words and photos: PETER CRAVEN
I picked up a second hand copy of "Raw Power" in, I guess, early ’83. My voyage of musical discovery was gaining at pace, and the songs I was exposed to on this album were quite monumental. I was floored. Loved it from the word go. It’s an album I still love, and has remained a constant in my life. When news of these "Raw Power" revival concerts filtered through, I knew, in my heart, that if I didn’t go, I would probably be kicking myself (hard) afterwards. Ultimately, I owed it to myself. So, many thanks to my friend James for coming up with a spare ticket.
The atmosphere outside the Hammersmith Apollo (which used to be better known as the ‘Odeon’) was electric as punters chatted and geared themselves up for the main attraction. I really liked that it was an incredibly mixed age crowd with people from I imagine all walks of life, but all united in their admiration of The Stooges legacy. And we were amongst the great and the good tonight… rubbing shoulders with the likes of Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Glen Matlock, TV Smith, Gaye Advert… my mate even spotted Rik Mayall from the ‘Young Ones!!
After some needless pissing about to get our tickets verified, we arrived inside the main auditorium to catch a bit of warm up act Suicide. Yes, that Suicide. Now, I can imagine in ’75, in the grubby confines of CBGB’s, playing to a handful of freaks ‘n weirdoes, all hungry for a new-beat, the discordant electronica of Alan Vega and Martin Rev was super challenging and confrontational to the sounds du-jour. But what I was hearing just didn’t connect. We watched a couple of songs then headed back to the bar.
And, in no time, we were back inside, squeezed ourselves down the right hand stage side to score a decent spot. There was no fancy-pants introductions or fanfare to mark the arrival of The Stooges… they were suddenly on the stage… the opening chords of "Raw Power" were unleashed by James Williamson, and then in a blur Iggy is in our faces, gyrating… howling… “Dance to the beat of the living dead, lose sleep baby and stay away from bed, raw power is sure to come a runnin’ to you”… can you feel it? Trust me, it felt good…
They then steamrollered in to ‘Search and Destroy’, and followed that with ‘Gimme Danger’. Man, what a start. The set evolved to capture all the tracks from ‘Raw Power’… “I Need Somebody” and ‘Penetration’ in particular sounded massive… whilst ‘Shake Appeal’ had Iggy inviting the audience on to the stage to shake their stuff, which was fun, but kinda detracted from the prowess of the song itself.
Now, in addition to the "Raw Power" material, things got real interesting with the inclusion of obscurities like "Open Up and Bleed", "Beyond The Law", "I Got a Right" and the hilarious "Cock in My Pocket"… !! It was also surprising to hear them launch in to "1970" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog" towards the end of the main set as this incarnation of The Stooges never played them live, back in the day.
Iggy is the obvious focus of attention, and how he still does what he does at his age (63) is quite inspiring, giving it his all and giving the people what they want. But I spent equal time soaking up the efforts of the rest of the players.
James Williamson is about as far removed visually from the wild looking rocker of those oh-so-pored over photos from the early-Seventies psychosis that surrounded The Stooges, and beyond. He’s an unassuming and slightly rotund guy peeling off memorable riff after memorable riff, to maximum effect, and, for someone so long away from this sort of environment, seems totally unfazed.
You have to wonder what goes through drummer Scott "Rock Action" Asheton’s mind whilst he beats the primal skins… with the passing of Brother Ron still fresh in our minds.
I was fascinated by saxophonist Steve Mackay, this guy goes all the way back to the early days, and is still here, contributing massively to the spectacle… and I wonder, what the hell was he doing during all those in-between years??? Did he ever envisage his time with these misfits would come again??!! On bass is Mike Watt, who has seamlessly gone from filling Dave Alexander’s role, to now Big Ron’s.
I’ve been following Mike’s own musical path since his days in Minutemen, the guy is as solid as it comes, inspiring to watch, and his contribution to the latter day Stooges is huge.
I don’t honestly remember what the main set closer was, but soon enough the band were back out, and breaking into "Fun House"… before shutting it down with ‘Kill City’. I am a big fan of the "Kill City" album, and had even wondered if that was possibly Iggy’s next move with James. Anyways, a great song to close with, and, without being too elitist, definitely one for the people in the crowd who scratched beneath the surface, and beyond the three core Stooges albums. I understand the previous night they finished with "Johanna" instead… ack! I would have loved a shot of that too…
And that was it, all over by a very civilised 10:45pm. A first class set. Raw Power honey... just won't quit, Raw power I can feeeeeel it!!!
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