People didn’t want to just see or hear Iggy Pop when he played the Greek Theatre on Thursday night. They wanted to touch him too — to put their hands on this proto-punk icon as though they could borrow some of the life force that continues to make him, at age 69, one of music’s most thrilling performers.
And Pop seemed happy to accommodate them. Strolling through the crowd without a shirt as he sang his song “Fall in Love with Me,” the singer made no attempt to bat away the fans grasping at his ropy torso. Eventually he found his way back to the stage, shimmied up next to a large speaker cabinet and rubbed the length of his body against it, crotch first.
Why deprive an inanimate object of what so many humans were clearly after?
We’ve seen versions of this setup before, in which an admiring acolyte is charged with revitalizing a fading elder. Think Jack White with Loretta Lynn, or Questlove with Al Green. Yet throughout “Post Pop Depression,” Pop is the one spewing intensity in songs like “Gardenia,” about a woman with a shapely posterior and a “powerful back,” and “Paraguay,” in which the singer rails against the fear-mongering of the Information Age. Homme and his mates, meanwhile, provide a sturdy foundation for Pop’s antics — not unlike the above speaker cabinet, in other words.
At the Greek, where the singer’s formally attired band included his studio accomplices along with bassist Matt Sweeney and guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, Pop mixed vivid renditions of songs from the new album with material that sprang from an earlier collaboration: his work in the late 1970s with David Bowie.
Whatever song they were performing, though, Pop kept himself the center of attention: a whirling, thrusting, chest-beating rock star whose enactment of aggression was never anything but totally cheerful.
“I’ll show you my undies,” he said at one point when his pants slipped down far enough to reveal a pair of bright-red briefs. Then he unzipped all the way, making good on the offer.