Iggy Pop marked his 60th birthday on Saturday just like any other respectable senior citizen would. The eerily athletic “Godfather of Punk” stripped down to a tight pair of blue jeans and dived off the stage into the arms of his adoring fans during a concert in San Francisco with his reunited band the Stooges.
Towards the end of the 80-minute show, the crowd at the Warfield theater sang along as his bandmates struck up “Happy Birthday,” and Pop was surprised as balloons bearing his image dropped from the ceiling.
A fan also handed him a white T-shirt inscribed “Birthday Boy Iggy,” which the singer proudly displayed to his unimpressed bandmates. Pop, whose real name is Jim Osterberg, seemed thrilled by all the attention, but did not dwell too much on the special occasion. He muttered a few thanks along the way before resuming his usual routine: manic singing and dancing, spitting into the crowd, scampering onto the speakers and throwing his microphone stand around the stage. During the song “No Fun,” he invited fans in the mosh pit to jump onto the stage, and generously shared his microphone with the motley troupe he termed the “Bay Area Dancers.” Pop no longer carves up his chest with a steak knife, rolls around in cut glass, smears himself in peanut butter, or follows a drug regimen that makes Keith Richards look like a choirboy. But the Michigan trailer-park kid otherwise outruns rockers one-third his age. Pop is back on tour with the Stooges, the band with which he first made a splash in the late 1960s. Their enthusiastic garage rock, a dissonant distillation of Chicago blues and British Invasion rock, helped pave the way for punk rock bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.
The Stooges self-destructed in 1974 after releasing three albums whose influence was not reflected by their meager sales.
Pop ended up penniless in the gutters of the Sunset Strip, and checked into a psychiatric hospital. He launched a comeback in 1977 with the help of David Bowie, with whom he co-wrote such tunes as “Lust for Life” and “China Girl.” A prolific recording artist and touring act, he reunited with Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton and his brother, drummer Scott Asheton, in 2003. With California punk veteran Mike Watt subbing for late bass player Dave Alexander, they last month released their first album in 33 years, “The Weirdness.”
After their North American tour ends on May 4 at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, they will launch a brief summer tour of European festivals.