Thanks to the many miracles of our modern society, today's super-rockers are kicking out the jams longer and harder than ever. (Think about it: For the better part of the '70s, the smart money would have been on Keith Richard's dad snorting his son's ashes, not vice versa.)
As the 59-year-old James Osterberg - a.k.a. Iggy Pop - proved Wednesday night at the Electric Factory, men well-acquainted with the business end of a sigmoidoscope are still capable of rocking as hard and ferociously as a teenager. They just can't write like one anymore. The Weirdness, the new album by the reconstituted Stooges, is like an old tin can - jagged, metallic, and holding contents long past the sell-by date. But the band's incendiary live act remains peerless.
Loud, lewd and anarchic, the Stooges emerged from the dark side of the '60s like a bad moon rising, and while they were largely misunderstood if not altogether despised back in the day, both their sound (the prototype of both punk and metal) and vision (hearts full of napalm, 10 soldiers and Nixon coming, apocalypse now) would prove prophetic as the Age of Aquarius curdled into the '70s.
On Wednesday night, Iggy and his Stooges - which includes charter members Ron and Scott Asheton on guitar and drums, respectively, and ex-Minutemen legend Mike Watt filling in for the deceased Dave Alexander on bass - played like their hair was on fire. They opened with Fun House's classic one-two punch of "Down on the Street" and "Loose," and followed it up with "I Wanna Be Your Dog."
Iggy - the man no shirt can hold, the man who more or less single-handedly invented the notion of lead singer as human cannonball - swung his ripped physique about the stage like a bullwhip, while Watt dug in deep, Scott Asheton beat the drums like they owed him money, and his brother Ron unloosed his patented, six-string cosmic roar.
Thuggish new material like "Skull Ring" and "Electric Chair" drew the same response as a dog shown a card trick, but deep-cut selections from the old albums - including a revelatory workout of Fun House's free-jazz double-freakout, "Fun House" and "L.A. Blues," accompanied by the hard-bop squawk of saxophonist Steve MacKay - were greeted like conquering heroes.
As if to prove that chaos remains his greatest ally, just four songs into their set Iggy demanded that the audience break down the crowd barriers and join him on stage. While the band laid rubber on "Dirt" and "Real Cool Time," upwards of 50 concertgoers pogoed and slam-danced on the Electric Factory stage.
Which only served to underscore the deathlessness of the Stooges' prime directive: Rules are made to be broken.