Tuesday, November 24, 2015

LAST LOS ANGELES STOOGES GIG EVER

•originally published in Paraphilia Magazine, 7.13.13•

IGGY AND THE STOOGES AT THE QUEEN MARY, LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA: RAW AND REAL POWER

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By Heather Harris
All Photos © 2013 Heather Harris
2Global rock festival goers attend for the communality, their mutual collective experience of shared ambience and solidarities of musical tastes in seeing whatever A-list, world-class acts are touring that summer. American festival attendees go for specific favorite acts. All festival audiences go for the ears and eyes. I go for the heart.

The heart specifically wanted in live rock music remains innovation, abandon with control, uniqueness, wildness, visual interest, surprise, visceral sensuousness… relentlessness… greatness… and a damn fine canon of a repertoire.
3Thus  ‘off to photograph its premiere exponents who invented speedmetal, punk, hardcore from the late 1960s on via their original sui generis inventiveness, Iggy and The Stooges, blasting the Ink ‘n’ Iron Festival right smack dab in front of the ocean liner The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, beginning of summer, 2013. Our first photograph at top depicts the unique setting, the Stooges’ most surreal stage backdrop ever with a 25 foot Princess Diana and fronting an entire famous ship, gangplanks and all.
7It’s not just Raw but Real Power, perpetual motion, five grown men defying gravity, the sound barrier and their own demographic by presenting almost 2 hours of 1,000mph hardest rock that they helped invent as young autodidacts. Power can be fathomed as political, bullying, providing momentum, igniting electricity, a force of nature. That last signification gets us a little closer to the phenom.
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29A major British music writer precisely detailed the live Stooge experience  its Promethean touchstone of hardest rock genesis performed by its original practitioners  in a mindset closer to my own creed but shimmering with more polish: “…All that had gone before had put me in that wonderful but rare state that we all crave from our music – a combination of euphoria, empowerment and something like abandonment. I was feeling the music more than I was seeing and hearing it.”  – Andy Barding, Louder than War, June 22, 2013 on the Royal Festival Hall gig in London a week before the 6.8.13 Long Beach show.
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“The Stooges are a pack of hyenas on the Serengeti Plains, hungry and omnivorous.” – Henry Rollins (singer of physicality extraordinaire formerly for Black Flag and assorted punks, actor, monologist, broadcast DJ, Stooges’ peer and pal) on the Queen Mary show
And we’re all off and running…
21“…Multiple regions of the brain fire upon hearing music: muscular, auditory, visual, linguistic… Visual and auditory clues trigger empathetic neurons… We think of ourselves as individuals but to some extent we are not; our very cells are joined to the group by these evolved empathetic reactions to others…” From “How Music Works” by David Byrne of Talking Heads, writing for Smithsonian Magazine, Oct. 2012
6Explaining why I loved “I Can See For Miles” by The Who to another of the world’s foremost guitarists whose dogs share playdates with ours, I proffered that the track conjured tsunamis, Dust Bowl cloud blackening skies, blizzards and hurricanes all bearing down on you at once to the extent that you were almost relieved when the song was over. What if these same forces of nature beguiled you, teased you, shook you to the core to want even more? Now we’re getting closer.
24Reunion bands with predominantly original members… There’s this “world’s greatest rock and roll band” who still sound unquestionably magnificent and produce peerless live shows, but have you really preferred any of their newest songs to their canon of 40 years ago?

Iggy and The Stooges just released Ready to Die new numbers sifted throughout their set of fan fave classics sound seamlessly like brand spankin’ new fan favorites.
“…they reached out their hands, because they had to touch him to believe he was real.” (which is sort of lyrical as well as observational) – Don Hill’s, Sept. 2010 Fashion Week private gig of Iggy and The Stooges

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Iggy Pop’s always been the world’s forgotten Tasmanian Devil/whirling Dervish, Theatre of the ProActive, visceral and peripatetic, leaping into the fourth wall, spitting, drooling, sweating, clasping others in the crowd. These may mirror practiced moves, but that’s like accusing athletes’ greatest feats anew as same. Skill always reinvents per performance. And its frontman erupts, reinvigorated with these Stooges.

Profoundly still extant in Iggy’s interactive unchoreography with his audiences are his stage dives into same, and as often seen as his well-traveled in your face routines, his one-on-one acknowledgment of how an audience touches him as much as he moves them. During its inverse, the stage invasion of the crowd during “Fun House” (audience right onstage into the band’s space for one number instead of Iggy’s former singer into audience space for half the set) (I still defy any A list act to try either maneuver of stagecraft every single gig) a goodly percentage of those positioned up front clamber onstage to writhe, lumber or even dance with the Stooges. Wholly unnecessarily, one blonde miss even executed a full on tackle of the Ig. (Note diligent stage staff at the ready, an amused Ig, her still on the floor, pleading!) Had she but waited, she might have experienced the truer connection seen in the photo with Iggy clenching one fan’s hand for practically a whole song while still singing to all.
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“The ‘Screaming Penguin’ gives me another version of the razor bright sound that I like… it’s boost on top of boost, very cutting sound, no real effects. Since the Blackstar amps I use now don’t have Top Boost circuit, I add it externally. It’s a treble boost pedal like my other one but using Germanium transistors instead of FET.”  James Williamson, guitarist, Iggy and The Stooges, waxing technical about his playing which is far better known for its rapidfire but emotion-infused sheer feel.
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There was exposition galore of how much admired the guitar-playing and songwriting of James Williamson remains in my Paraphilia issue # 12 photofeature “Tribute to Ron Asheton with Iggy and The Stooges, Ann Arbor MI 4.19.11: Open Up and Blood, Sweat and ‘Fanecdotes,’” plus details of his remarkable personal history, unmatched in all Rock and Roll (legend/progenitor of all hard rock genres since 1974, to Fortune 500 company vice-president via technology and back to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee currently touring the world with Iggy and The Stooges since 2010 (and his retirement from Sony Corporation.) The life unfolds as impressively as the music it created.

“…He was different than the others, the one who actually suffered about the Stooges situation… the way James plays, the substance he carries with him, is material with which one can think and feel. His toughness and sharpness on certain points seemed to me almost desperate: he is not the one who will cheer you up with words of hope. He will just slowly have you to face the reality sharply, and then- – – the unreliable miracle. James is a hard worker and a pure gemstone of inner self working, a lesson for coping with life.” – his friend Valerie Barnole, writing about James Williamson as a musician, colleague and as a human being. 
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“What ended in the seventies as a nightmare has been redeemed in the new millennium.” – Michael Flek, Underground Press, James Williamson Interview 8.7.13
34Attack, sustain, release, decay are the components of a musical sound: it’s out of order for Iggy and The Stooges, who rebooted all hard rock musics and, since pioneers get all the arrows, decayed in lifestyles and momentum but never in music, went their separate ways, then reunited in the 2000s to sustain with two versions of one of the greatest groups ever, first with the late guitarist Ron Asheton then with his successor James Williamson.

Williamson, whose unique and wholly successful personal reinventions were chronicled in Díre McCain’s 30pp. interview with him in Paraphilia issue #5, remains the rapidfire human guitar anomaly that inspires further greatness from his co-horts, particularly punk legend in his own right, bassist Mike Watt.

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13“Saw him (Mike Watt) for the first time in ‘97… I was 17, did whole under-aged drinking thing, but half way through the show I stopped. I’m just floored, like, ‘This is for real.’ No smooth pop punk there.” – Anonymous, because witness is now respectable tattoo shop owner/businessman
Watt, busy, rapid but precise (yet soulful) bassist up to the mindmeld/competition with this band. Only two bassists in rock history have fielded such a mega-onslaught by their band partners/titans onstage as Watt has had to do, and both have been better known as guitarists: Ron Wood, who performed bass miracles similar to Watts’ in the (first) Jeff Beck Group while Beck kept inventing arena-metal-blues magnificence to Rod Stewart’s invention of himself as major powerhouse singer; and Ron Asheton, the Stooges original guitarist and bassist in the Raw Power Williamson era. 

On the Raw Power Deluxe box set’s dvd of its making, Iggy even acknowledged, with traditional post-game quarterbacks’ analysis, the Raw Power Stooges being all about competition for attention, hence their greatness in wild, busy interaction.  When fielding Beck or Williamson, you needed the best challengers on the planet. Absolute monster bassists all, Watt, Wood and Asheton…
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Watt of course has untold numbers of other bands, all of which garner his devout effort, some of whom would be Hellride, Dos, the Missingmen, the Secondmen, Spielgusher to match his former notable Minutemen and fireHOSE. Energizer rabbit, deep feeler, stream-of-consciousness diarist as in his Hootpage website entry for this show
: “This fucking boat’s underway! We’re midships this time where nine years ago queen mary was to our port and open air behind us. I think us being in front of her gives way more focus for the sound…”
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Steve Mackay, on hand intermittently since 1970’s Funhouse Stooges’ recording remains another secret weapon, not only for the most appropriate and least “porn-movie-sounding” saxophone parts in the history of rock and roll added to fill out the Stoogean raw power, but also the essential assorted studio instruments, from claves to celeste/keyboard.
16Everything he does from “L.A. Blues” squonks to pre-encore closer, the mighty “Open Up And Bleed”s poignant harmonica spells sonic Stoogebliss completeness. God bless ‘im! Steve Mackay Rules OK! as the punks put in their original 1970s era, three years after their inspirations, Iggy and The Stooges Mach 1, had broken up.
Known alternately as Toby Dammit (namesake: Terence Stamp in “Spirits of the Dead” directed by Federico Fellini) a.k.a. Larry Mullins which bothers me not a whit since yours truly has separate but multiple monikers, this drummer is filling in on tour for venerable, original Stooge Scott “Rock Action” Asheton.
17The latter appears on Ready To Die, but cannot tour by doctors’ orders, and we all want him around as long as possible, savvy?
Mullins/Dammit, known for solo Iggy gigs and working with everyone from Scott Walker (!) to Jessie Evans prior, percussions fast and furiously, but seems such like a genial soul for a hardcore musician. They’re lucky to have him.
18Amongst the festival circuit current acts, Iggy and The Stooges is indeed acknowledged by critics’ consensus as the best of reunions of originals. They even play better than before despite having started from the top of the heap (lack of drug oblivion today aids in same. Luckily times changed.)

Folks regret not having seen Stooges back in the day (not me, I photographed them in 1973) and similarly you will regret not seeing this reunion. Rectify that, people.
It has proven difficult to write about music that means so much to me, much easier to document it visually for posterity. What an absolute marvel of brain cells and synaptic neurons for Iggy and The Stooges to have been able to create it all in the first place…
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Iggy and The Stooges’ Queen Mary, Long Beach Ink ‘n’ Iron Festival 6.8.13 set list for our Paraphilia Stooges completionists:
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“Raw Power”
“Gimme Danger”
“Gun”
“1970”
“Search And Destroy”
“Fun House”
“L.A. Blues”
“Night Theme”
“Skull Ring”
“Beyond The Law”
“Johanna”
“Ready To Die”
“I Got A Right”
“I Wanna Be Your Dog”
“No Fun”
“Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell”
“Open Up And Bleed”
–ENCORE–
“Penetration”
“Sex And Money” changed to “Dirty Deal” after technical problem

Heather Harris
http://heatherharris.net
http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com

BONUS photo op for FASTFILM BLOG: L-R: Evita Corby, Linda Williamson, James Williamson, Rico Cardinale backstage at this gig.

THE VERY LAST STOOGES GIG EVER 9.28.13

•Originally published in PARAPHILIA Magazine, 1.15.14.•  
Since this gig, both Scott Asheton and Steve Mackay sadly passed away •


LOOK OUT HONEY ‘COS THEY’RE USING TECHNOLOGY: IGGY AND THE STOOGES @ CONVERGE. CREATE. SILICON VALLEY




 By Heather Harris
All Photographs © Heather Harris 
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“We don’t do what we’re supposed to, see?” — Beyond The Law (Pop/Williamson)

2They were the smart-alecks teasing quantum mechanics and particle physics into transistors and microchips who changed the world forever in their positronic conquest, rightly celebrated at C2SV. They were the rock band first detonating the niche into a million smithereens of hardcore, punk rock, speedmetal, thrash and all hardest rock genres thereafter in music’s smoking crater and changed its world forever, rightly celebrated at C2SV.
4Although its techfest seminars and multiple band showcases in twelve different venues had been ongoing two of its four days prior, on 9.28.13 C2SV (Create Converge Silicon Valley) Technology Conference and Music Festival combined both factions with one individual who encapsulated both worlds. Selfsame hardest rock game changers Iggy and The Stooges assaulted St. James Park, downtown San Jose live that night after one of their own had given a talk earlier in the afternoon as the featured keynote tech speaker. James Williamson, newly retired Sony Corp. Technology Standards Vice-President is actual Iggy and The Stooges guitarist, most notably of its seminal 1972 release Raw Power now acknowledged as the template for punk rock.
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Dan Pulcrano, journalist, publisher, newspaper owner of award-winning Metro Silicon Valley and C2SV promoter conceived of it as a locale-specific alternative similar to Austin’s SxSW. His sense of humor matched the sophistication of his cred by featuring discussions with inventor of anti-virusware John McAfee whom Pulcrano cheerfully proclaimed “Our fugitive from Belize!” alongside major notables like PC inventor Steve Wozniak, video game inventor Nolan Busnell, and three days worth of assorted panelists like Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra and former WIRED editor Brian Behlendorf.

“Give it up, turn that boy loose!” — Kill City (Pop/Williamson)
5Off camera and a coast away, a there-from-the-beginning Stooges insider with initial misgivings recently had declared, “James Williamson saved The Stooges. Twice.” This story can be reviewed in Paraphilia XII (“Open Up and Blood, Sweat, Tears and ‘Fanecdotes,” 2011 by yours truly) and more recent triumphs of his Stooges reunion gigs in Paraphilia 2013 (“Raw and Real Power” also by yours truly.) However, the middle act of Williamson’s life wherein he abruptly switched careers, got in on the beginning of computer technology in the late ‘70s as an engineer, moved to Silicon Valley with his young family, invented away and rose through the ranks to eventual vice-presidency of Sony Corporation hadn’t been heard aloud in the first person until this keynote address.
6It was formulated as a Q&A interview with author/writer Jack Boulware (Gimme Something Better- a history of Bay Area Punk, San Francisco Bizarro amongst a C.V. that includes the New York Times, Playboy and Wired) along for the ride. The overall theme: few have experienced such deliberate career polarity at the topmost level of both. Williamson outlined his first career with the brilliant but utterly undervalued at the time Iggy and The Stooges and his own subsequent disillusionment. Of his very first viewing of a personal computer, he explained, “Rock and roll had become not very exciting to me, but this shit really was!” He noted the geographical changes in his new environs that matched the career switch as well, “The Silicon Valley was a pretty different place when we first got here: the future Google compound was literally dairy sheds.”
7James mentioned that back in the day as a Stooge, “My lead singer was pissing all the way from the dressing room to the stage, and my hair was five different colors the night I met my future wife Linda.” (The coif was also spiky-cut-short in 1973’s longhaired Eagles’ hippie-o-rama daze, three years before the punks looked, listened and learned from James-era, Iggy and The Stooges Raw Power.) The two then screened a powerpoint slide of one of Williamson’s Sony executive portraits as radical comparison with suit and tie, a more eminence grise effect of late.
Interviewer Jack Boulware asked James if life on the rock and roll touring road nowadays was still nonstop sex and drugs. A: “Yeah, but now it’s mostly gabapentin,” whereupon they both cracked up along with the audience.
9Best of all, Williamson deconstructed his most famous song “Search And Destroy” playing his guitar. Its novel if hyperspeed rhythms were traced to the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash,” the Ventures’ “Walk Don’t Run” and further back to conga-line dancing’s strong beats, revealing that “Search And Destroy, the anthem of Punk Rock, is really based on The Bunny Hop,” duly demonstrated in riffs and hops.
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“I’m looking for a reason to live, I’ve only got two things to give…sex and money…” — Sex And Money, (Pop/Williamson)
Next was John McAfee’s first public appearance since his highly publicized escape from Belize and arrest in Guatemala, with self-admitted “a retinue of employees and young girls” despite active military harassment and bounties. McAfee spoke about quorum-sensing, drugs, sobriety, drugs, yoga, South American corrupt jurisprudence and drugs. McAfee used the conference appearance to announce his intentions to market a low-cost secure router to foil government and other surveillance via a localized networking platform with total, effective encryption.

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16On to the pleine air St. James Park main stage opening acts: Bay Area locals The Bang Girl Group Revue with high-powered rock-soul singers Angeline King and Rachel Mae Havens plus deservedly praised, eclectic guitarist (and acclaimed DJ) Derek See and company; Bosnian Rainbows with Teri Gender Bender from Le Butcherettes along with some former The Mars Voltas, then S.F. surf-ish stylists Thee Oh Sees.
12A packed park crowd of disparate, multi-generation, casual to high-trendy Goth Stoogefans excitedly compared previous or newfound Stooge experiences (that’s Maria Damon showing off James Williamson’s autograph on her dress garnered in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the band’s Tribute to Ron Asheton gig. She gets around.)
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“Screaming murder, bloody murder all in my brain…” — Joanna (Pop/Williamson)
Then Iggy and The Stooges hurtle onto the stage: Iggy Pop, James Williamson, Mike Watt (the sole non-runner,) Steve Mackay and Toby Dammit (Larry Mullins, filling in for Scott Rock Action Asheton.) Legendarily peripatic vocalist Iggy seems to relive “Open Up And Bleed” early on in the set, as he gashed the bridge of his nose (see close up) which remained bloody throughout. “My God, the energy of than man onstage,” exclaimed hundreds of onlookers to one another simultaneously.
20A major highlight of any Stooge show remains an invasion of 100+ stomping, moshing audience persons invited onstage to wild it up with the band from its perspective, an interactive vestige of the days when Iggy would spend half the show out in a club’s audience himself, barking in people’s faces, scuttling under dresses, rather impossible with the group’s huge draw nowadays. The stage erected in the park proved inadequate for such a gambit, so a single dancer from the audience and later some lithe, body-painted nubiles solved selfsame problem to the satisfaction of all.

“I get excited, so fine, I’m alive” —Penetration (Pop/Williamson)
One hyperactive young fangirl, frenetically frenzied practically to the point of Tourette’s Disease next to Maria and me was going berserk with maximum Stoogebliss. Fearing for our own lives and limbs, all around her kept pointing and yelling “Her! Her!” while helping to push her over the barrier even before Iggy called for a single volunteer to come onstage and dance with the Stooges. She was great. Win-win.
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“In my head there’s a cry of pain, I wear my heart out and kill my brain…yeah, tell me lies…” — Open Up And Bleed (Pop/Williamson)
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It’s a raunchy, tight, almost two-hour-long albeit speedy set of nearly twenty songs that these grown men offer a audience, but they end it with their one power ballad.
33After the feedback fury and raw nerve pain/redemption of selfsame “Open Up And Bleed,” (a song so wrenching it titled Paul Trynka’s definitive Iggy biography despite its unreleased status) the band returned with its singer wearing a recent facsimile of his Street Walking Cheetah jacket seen on the back cover of Raw Power. For encore “Burn” from recently released batch of brand spankin’ new Stooge songs Ready To Die, Iggy then unexpectedly met up with a gaggle of nubile young ladies onstage, nude but for body paint and “purported bodystockings.” Promoter Dan Pulcrano had hired Trina Merry/Art Alive Gallery’s body-painted naked dancers in a surprise performance art coda with the band as tribute to his legend-enmeshed headliners.
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“They’re taking over as the world turns, I’m on file with a reptile, burn, burn…” — Burn (Pop/Williamson)
Both to affirm the group’s sleazy origins and also to utterly repudiate their first band dissolution under a hale of angry debris thrown onstage at the Michigan Palace (sons et guerres in toto on the Metallic K.O album, objects crashing thuds heard throughout, exhausted singer exhorting the hecklers “Ya wanna hear ‘Louie, Louie?’ So it’s come to this!”) here’s “Louie, Louie” as final, FINAL encore of Iggy and The Stooges, phoenix fully arisen.

“I think about the meaning of my life again and I have to sing Louie Louie again…”— Louie Louie (Richard Berry) (embellished by Pop/Williamson)
Above the audience din a clarion voice nearby shrieked “I’ll never give up on you Iggy, you saved my fucking life!” Millennials, Xers, Yers or Boomers, people care about these Stooges.
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Folk taxonomy of the word “paraphilia” embraces intense obsessions for atypical situations or persons. C2SV’s Iggy and The Stooges gig can further define said obsessions clinically and threefold: the band’s to excel on their own terms and to have persisted (off and on) for four plus decades; the audience fangirl’s in her going ungodly, flailing berserkness until she could dance onstage with her musical idols; and, reluctantly admitted since I don’t do selfies, your humble photojournalist here. One can observe, appreciate, photograph and even write about greatness in the same artists over and over again no matter how frequently (or seldom) encountered and witnessed. Since 1973 I’ve seen and photographed Iggy and The Stooges a half dozen times: it only gets better and better with each go.
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SET LIST
1.  Raw Power
2.  Gimme Danger
3.  1970
4.  Search And Destroy
5.  Fun House/Night Theme
6.  Beyond The Law
7.  Johanna
8.  Ready To Die
9.  I Wanna Be Your Dog
10. No Fun
11. The Passenger
12. I Got A Right
13. Cock In My Pocket
14. Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell
15. Sex And Money
16. Penetration
17. Open Up And Bleed
18. Burn (encore)
19. Louie Louie (second encore, naked, body-painted dancing women stage invade)

-Heather Harris

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