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  • Writer's pictureJO'B

Lust For Life, O2 Academy, Islington, London, 9th March 2024

I was born in 1970, so when Lust For Life, the album by Iggy Pop, was released on 9th September 1977, I was 7. It was a big year, I'd just seen Star Wars and was obsessed. Punk rock legends and albums made in partnership with David Bowie were not on my radar - it was just Star Wars figures for me.


As a teenager, I liked Real Wild Child, Iggy's reworking of Johnny O'Keefe's 1958 hit, The Wild One, But he still wasn't on my radar. At Uni, my friend Stevey had The Idiot on vinyl - Stevey had much cooler and broader taste than the rest of us. Though in hindsight, buying In Battle There Is No Law by Bolt Thrower so he had a death metal album in his collection was probably a step too far. I liked The Idiot but there was too much new music to go crate-digging for Iggy records.



Like a lot of people my age, Iggy came pounding back into the music world for me thanks to the opening scene in Trainspotting. Music can play such an important role in film and this is a seminal moment in the 90s. Two thieving junkies on the run, as Renton, Ewan McGregor's anti-hero, delivers a searing monologue on modern life and its vacuousness ("Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics"). It's fantastic. I went out and bought Iggy's greatest hits and I was hooked.



I saw Iggy in 1998 at the V Festival - he was wearing the same transparent jeans (and no keks) that he wore on Channel 4's answer to Later with Jools Holland, The White Room. His V Festival set included Lust For Life, The Passenger, Sixteen and Stooges classics like Search & Destroy, TV Eye and No Fun. It was thrilling. Though I really didn't need to see "little Iggy"...



Over the years, I have picked up some records by him, but Lust For Life is really the album I love by him. So the chance to see the whole album live was too good to pass up. And I love a cover version (see Fake Plastic Tunes - 20 great cover versions). I am quite partial to the odd tribute band too. So tonight is a proper treat.


For the hell of it back in 2023, a group of punk and music veterans started touring playing the whole of Iggy Pop’s finest hour, the Lust For Life album. And why not? We saw Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy playing all of The Man Who Sold The World back in 2020, just before lockdown kicked in (see My Last Gig Before Lockdown - Holy Holy at The Roundhouse - 11th March 2020). The gig was superb, though there was a palpable sense of doom in the air then.



This evening though lockdown seems a distant memory (and may it stay that way). This is a show curated by Blondie drummer Clem Burke, joined by former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock on bass; broadcaster and Pet Shop Boys dancer, Katie Puckrik on vocals; Iggy Pop and David Bowie collaborator, Kevin Armstrong on guitar;  Luis Correia, who’s toured internationally with Earl Slick on second guitar; together with classical pianist, composer, and touring member of Heaven 17, Florence Sabeva on keyboards.


Clem, Glenn and Kevin have all appeared on an Iggy album each, though not the same one. So they have some credible claim to be more than just a tribute act - that and their considerable combined musical legacy.



We miss the first couple of acts, but arrive in time for reformed grindcore band Maniac Squat - Maniac Shite would be more appropriate, but the crowd seem to love them. I hate all that grindcore shouting and they are graceless ("They take it up the shitter"), though I am warmer to “Just a Tory, a fucking Tory”. The setlist on stage looks dishearteningly long, but they are joined on stage by guests, including James Stevenson on guitar and Liz from Westworld, who deliver a roaring cover of the MC5's Kick Out The Jams, in tribute to the recently departed Wayne Kramer. That's more like it.


Photo courtesy of @TonyHom33


We are up at the balcony but all the seats at the front are taken by guests of the band (fair enough). A rather conspicuous man, dressed in a jacket and trousers that have Spizz Energi emblazoned across the back and down the leg, is in front of us. He leaves his place so we take a step forward, but he returns swiftly with a beer and pushes through us rather ungracefully. He is the singer of said band; perhaps being a one hit wonder (Where's Captain Kirk?) entitles one to push through people. He departs again and leaves a plastic beer cup on his seat, like the stereotype of German tourists marking their sun lounger with a towel. A nice woman asks if she can have the seat as she has just had a hip replacement - we throw away his cup and the seat is hers. Spizz man does not return. Perhaps he is still looking for William Shatner...



Suzi Ronson, ex-wife of Mick, and the hairdresser that created Bowie's look for Ziggy, gives a short reading. She's engaging, charming and tells a good yarn. It's hard though after 15 minutes not to think we've heard the whole story, so I am not included to buy the book she is plugging at the merch stall about the time she spent with David Bowie ("Me And Mr Jones"), But many are being picked up after the gig so what do I know?


Then the main act take the stage. Clem Burke looks 20, rather than 69, whilst Glen Matlock looks stylish and elegant throughout. Both are currently touring with Blondie and present a formidable rhythm section. Kevin Armstrong, who is the show's arranger, is more understated, but plays brilliantly all evening, as do Luis and Florence. But the real star is Katie Puckrik.



It's a shrewd move to not try and replace, or worse replicate, Iggy. You can't. And Katie doesn't try. She is a whirlwind onstage, 61, but moving like she is 16. Her legs never seem to stop moving, part singer, part Tasmanian Devil. Her voice is strong and moves easily between roaring and smouldering.


Photo courtesy of @TonyHom33


The band tear through the nine songs from Lust For Life at pace, with barely a pause to breathe. They recreate the album's songs but also its muscle and subtlety. With barely a moment to take in what we have seen, they launch straight into Nightclubbing, Katie prowling the stage like a cat. We get more Iggy and Stooges covers, before Katie leaves the stage for a costume change and Kevin takes over the vocals for Absolute Beginners, backed by his sister Janet - Kevin played on the original, as well as with Bowie at Live Aid, and Janet sang its distinctive backing vocal. They do a fine job recreating one of Bowie's best moments of the 80s.



Then Katie returns for a swift rip through more songs, including a superb Bowie deep cut, Joe The Lion. A brief departure from the stage and then they are back for the encore. More Bowie and Blondie covers, before Glen takes the mic for the Sex Pistols' Pretty Vacant and the audience relish in hollering along to this pinnacle of punk rebellion. Search & Destroy is segued into and Katie pounds the stage so hard, you think she'll go through it. And then they are gone.



Everyone is beaming as they pile out the venue, and we all agree we'll definitely go again if they repeat this again. If they threw in some Velvets covers next time, that would be very cool indeed...


Stay safe, and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe (see link below), x

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