The Return of The Godfather of Punk - Iggy Pop’s Dog Day Afternoon @ Crystal Palace, London
We are in the grounds of the final live reggae place in the UK for Bob Marley, a gathering of punk and rock fans to see the Godfather return for his UK ‘Tour’. One date does not make a tour though, so that means we all have to travel to London to witness it. That's not so bad as Iggy has curated a programme of immense history of the genre and we start with a personal recommendation from him, new punkets The Lambrini Girls.
Lambrini Girls by Victor Frankowski
This Brighton 3 piece are about to waken the sphinxes on the historic terrace here with their unabridged feminist punk attitude and quality noise. There is a mixture of old punk energy combined with Riot Grrrl antics and yet this has a fresher feel to it. In a flash they are already in the crowd, the stage is quite high but that isn’t going to stop Lunny climbing down and then over the barrier with her guitar and mic in hand, then proceeding to climb over the mainly white middle aged blokes, asking if there are “Any Gay Legends in here?”. That's one way to start a show, and bass player Lily is also in the pit looking for anyone prepared to give her eye contact.
They play the whole of their recently released debut EP ‘You’re Welcome’. It is Pride in London today and this is our punk pride parade, flags proudly waved while the Lambrini Girls rock through ‘Help Me I’m Gay’. They have lots to speak about, and they have a passion and drive that is mostly lost from the rest of the bill today, with youth on their side they know how to use it.
Spending most of her time in the crowd (Iggy would be proud watching on) Lunny is still playing her guitar even when the power is cut, they run out of time, but still continue to play ‘Craig David’. At one point I thought they were needing to be escorted off, but the overriding feeling was this is just the start for them, they have won over a huge amount of new fans, and a mental note made to catch them again if they come up further North.
The Buzzcocks by Victor Frankowski
From new punk starlets to a series of the genre’s royalty, starting with Steve Diggle, whose shoulders now bear the heavy weight of The Buzzcocks after Pete Shelley’s passing five years ago. This does not phase him in the slightest as he says a quick ‘ello’ and then straight into ‘What Do I Get’. A lively set that features all the classic singles like ‘Promises’, ‘Orgasm Addict’ and ‘I Don’t Mind’ plus something new from their more recent album ‘Sonics in the Soul’, ‘Senses Out Of Control’ was a rocking new tune in very much the same vein as the others. The only time they pause for breath from the Ramones like 1-2-3-4 intro is for the more bluesy ‘Why Can’t I Touch It?’ and of course reserving their classic ‘Ever Fallen In Love With Someone’ for the end. Job done they walk off to huge applause.
Stiff Little Fingers by Victor Frankowski
Similarly, Stiff Little Fingers show their credibility by rollicking through a quick hour of hits you had forgotten you knew. I found myself nodding my head and singing the words to ‘Nobody’s Hero’, something I probably haven’t done since youth club discos in the 70’s. Jake Burns (lead) and Ali McMordie (bass) are proudly still rocking away and produce a slew of songs that Green Day must have nicked twenty five years ago and reproduced as their own.
A pause in the onslaught when Burns emotionally reminds people to talk to each other if they feel like they are suffering with any form of mental health issues or depression. ‘My Dark Places’ gets a rousing reception, and then we are completely engulfed in punk nostalgia for ‘At The Edge’, ‘Alternative Ulster’ and ‘S-S-S-S-S-Suspect Device’. This was a brilliant example of a class punk band that can still get the adrenalin pumping and fists flying – long may they continue to do so.
Generation Sex by Victor Frankowski
I was at Glastonbury last week and caught the tail end of Generation Sex on the Other Stage. It was rammed for them and the expectation was palpable here today too. Billy Idol and Tony James from Generation X, playing with Steve Jones and Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols. A punk supergroup of mammoth proportions playing in their stomping ground of London on a sunny afternoon? Yes Please!
Opening with the Steve Jones riff to ‘Pretty Vacant’ they pulverise the crowd into submission, alternating GenX with Pistols we get a cavalcade of monster tracks ‘Ready Steady Go’, ‘Wild Youth’ and the immense ‘Bodies’ kicks us off with Billy Idol very able in the John Lydon role and the audience which had notably swelled at this point would fill in the gaps in any chorus.
A more portly Jones these days in baseball cap is still able to crank the volume up and knock out the riffs to ‘Silly Thing’ and ‘God Save the Queen’ and Idol very willing to scream “We Mean It Maaan”. ‘King Rocker’ and even ‘Dancing With Myself’ were played too, before a ridiculously splendent ‘My Way’ brought the set to a close. It could have gone on for another half an hour at least, no ‘Anarchy’ or ‘Holidays in the Sun’ but we had a blast in the sun, time for a quick beer before Blondie.
Blondie by Victor Frankowski
Blondie again I saw their full set at Glastonbury, much impressed and thought it better than their show in Leeds the previous year. Another ‘Pistol’ is in the house as Glen Matlock is Debbie Harry’s bass player these days. Now if PIL had also been on the bill what would the chances be of a full Sex Pistols reunion?
It is Debbie Harry’s 78th birthday today and after each track we get a Happy Birthday sing song from this rammed crowd, many have stepped down from the terraces to be a little closer to the front and suprisingly the average age of the first 20 rows drops to about 35.
Opening with ‘One Way Or Another’ was a great move, the crowd immediately dancing and then a telephone ring and Harry jokingly says “This is Blondie Calling” before ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ is belted out. Clem Burke on drums can still compete with the best of them.
‘Sunday Girl’ and then ‘Call Me’ following, the hits just keep on coming and Debbie Harry’s voice is more than holding out in her 78th year. On ‘Atomic’ it falters slightly on the opening verse, but we forgive her for that when she can still unleash the disco rap on ‘Rapture’. She is still the sultry queen that she always was, changing into a cloak made of glass shards for ‘Heart of Glass’ and then punking it all up with ‘Detroit 442’ that she explains is “about the man you are waiting to see and he is the reason we all got started in this business”.
‘Dreaming’ closes the set and this was the best I have ever seen Harry, a fitting support, they could have headlined, but we await the return of the godfather next.
Iggy Pop by Victor Frankowski
The band are all onstage (including a brass section) and a white mic stand is in the centre, they are playing an intro ‘Rune’, its a soft starter and in the wings we see Iggy Pop arrive and start cavorting around like a caged dog being released, he is wearing a waistcoat that lasts about 30 seconds before it is ripped off exposing his twisted battle-scarred torso, immediately we are launched into ‘Five Foot One’ and the anarchy can commence.
He is a whirling dervish, a Tasmanian devil who occasionally pauses with one hand in the air, sings/speaks a few words in his deep brogue then walks or runs like a chimp across the stage, sticks his paunch out and stands with a limp to one side. He is quick to just tell everyone to f#ck off, flicks two birds, spits on the floor and then does it all again. He is unpredictable and anarchic, although they have taken the stairs away so he won’t be venturing into the crowd this time. He does manage a few trips across the front speaker stack though.
The setlist is well spaced and combines the now ancient Stooges stuff with the more modern solo outings.‘TV Eye’ and ‘Raw Power’ are both magnificent in their savageness and when you casually throw out ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Lust For Life’ early on, we start to wonder what he has left up his...errrr..sleeves?
‘The Endless Sea’ is a break in the madness, a chance to get your breath back before Iggy announces we are going on a ‘Death Trip’ and it all starts again. This is followed by Pop howling at the moon and barking, whilst this would be abnormal for most people, it seems completely acceptable at this moment at Crystal Palace to join in. This serves as an intro to ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ which was as feral as it should be, and then topped by an intense run through of ‘Search & Destroy’ which should be enough to send everyone home happy. Iggy Pop leaves the stage.
Plenty of shouts for his return, and eventually he is encouraged back and adds a massive 5 track encore to the setlist, which included ‘Nightclubbing’ and a raucous ‘Down On The Street’.
The Dog Day Afternoon was a huge success for a revitalised Iggy Pop, who continues to defy the ageing process and for all of us to enjoy the nostalgia of some of the best punk rock music performed by bands that can still do it some 45 years later. Whether this can turn into an annual event remains to be seen, but as a one-off this was as perfect as it gets.
Dog Day Afternoon by Victor Frankowski
Words: John Hayhurst
Photos: Victor Frankowski