My music personality and gig of the year 2016: Iggy Pop, Royal Albert Hall, 13th May

Be warned: this post is an excuse to talk about one of the last living heroes: Mr. James Osterberg, alias Iggy Pop! Not really actually as I really think his presence and excellence throughout the year was huge and unexpected and that he deserved this virtual reward.

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Iggy Pop, 13th May 2016, Royal Albert Hall – Iggy celebrating

I let you read the review of his latest LP “Post Pop Depression” which ended up the year ranked #2 in our best of the year list. The good news is that Iggy Pop toured throughout the year for a few shows and that the band which played with him at least during the first part of the year was actually that present on the album.

Iggy Pop, 13th May 2016, Royal Albert Hall - full stage

In particular, I was lucky enough to attend the 13th of May gig which occurred at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I know superlatives are easy and that music reviewers do have sometimes the tendency in being over-enthusiastic for the last album they listened to and for the last gig they attended. But trust me, this concert was definitely in my personal top four, which means a lot for someone who spends his life listening to live music. For the record, the other gigs would be Jeff Buckley in 1995 (Paris Olympia), Radiohead in 1996 (Paris la Cigale) and Tom Waits in 2008 (Paris, Grand Rex). Why was this concert so amazing? First, the Royal Albert Hall is a very specific and beautiful place but I do admit we are just dealing with the environment here. Secondly, apart from the original Stooges, Iggy Pop has never played with such a great and smart band: Josh Homme, Dean Fertita, Troy van Leeuwen from the Queens of the Stone Age galaxy, Matt Sweney from Chavez/Swans and Matt Helders from Arctic Monkeys. Apart from the latest who only played incredible drums throughout the concert, the other musicians alternated between keyboard, guitars and bass with an incredible sensitivity, joy of being on stage and a certain fandom also. Third reason was the setlist which was entirely based on the three best Iggy’s albums, namely “The Idiot”, “Lust for Life” and the new one “Post Pop Depression”. Listening live and for real by such tracks as “Lust for Life”, “Mass Production” or “Fall in Love with me” was really something I never thought I would live.

Fourth reason was the energy, love and enthusiasm showed by the little 69-year old man. He succeeded to keep his jacket for two tracks but as usual he took it off and spent the whole show bared-chested, showing his strange skin which is a mix of that of an old lizard and of an ageless punk rocker. The way he sang these songs was incredible and his voice was really on top. But more important, what made this concert special was the feeling of love and good vibes transmitted by him. I must say I have never seen so many hugs in one concert!

Image result for iggy pop post pop depression live royal albert hall

I was not the only one to feel the quality of this concert as we spotted after the show of group of people, including Kate Moss, Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream) and Mani (The Stone Roses). I recommend also the following linked review by The Guardian who says it all…in better English. Last but not least, this concert is now available in CD, DVD or even better Blu-ray so watch if you want to experience the beautiful moment yourself in your sofa…or elsewhere.

Image result for jim jarmusch gimme danger

…and that is not all there is to it for Iggy Pop in 2016. The great American director Jim Jarmusch filmed and produced a documentary on Iggy Pop’s first band called “Gimme Danger” . Jim Jarmusch has always been very much influenced and present within the world of music either through his movies where one could see the late Joe Strummer (The Clash) or the RZA (Wu-Tan Clan) acting or the documentary he did on Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The Stooges only actually released three albums but they are all indispensable and influenced generations of musician and music lovers. Not sure if this is already available everywhere globally but watch it when you can and in the meantime click to see the trailer.

Musical leaves in London 25&26th July 2015 ;The Jam/Brian Wilson/Badly Drawn Boy

The Jam, Somerset House, 2015 - Band

I remember being super excited two years ago when I spent a great week-end in London, enjoying the “David Bowie is…” exhibition at the V&A and a Dexys Midnight Runners concert. I must say that although I have been in London for a year now, I still get more or less the same feeling of excitement every week-end when discovering this amazing city with endless treasures. Funny then that without knowing it, I sort of got recently the same kind of week-end as that mentioned above with three great events.

I started on Saturday by visiting an exhibition at the prestigious and beautiful Somerset House, home in particular of the recommended Courtauld Gallery. Actually this exhibition was about…The Jam! Interesting to see how popular culture and tradition mix so well in this city. For those not familiar with The Jam, they were Paul Weller’s first band and probably the most popular in the UK between 1977 and 1982, when their leader decided to stop at the peak of their popularity to go towards new musical adventures. It created a kind of trauma within the British youth at that time but showed as well the spirit of independence Paul Weller has been having for 5 decades now. The exhibition showed a great balance between memorabilia objects (guitars, pictures, clothes,…) and movies of concerts and clips. Funny to see former and current mod fans visiting the exhibition (well I guess I am one of them…) not hiding smiles and enthusiasm but still in well-behaved manners!

Love and Mercy

 

Change of place and direction Notting Hill for an early evening session at the beautiful Gate Theatre to watch “Love and Mercy” starring John Cusack. Based on the life of Brian Wilson, leader of the Beach Boys, the film is focused on two periods of his life : first the 1965-1968 years, source of extreme genius…and the start of his mental issues and then the end of the 80’s when he re-entered the life of normal people but at a certain price. I strongly recommend this very moving movie for all those interested in rock’n’roll myths, knowing what one can see on the screen is really close to what actually happened. Good to see for once a movie based on music facts not too Hollywood-driven in its transcription of it all. For you all Beach Boys fans, the scenes in the studio describing the sessions that made “Pet Sounds” and the doomed “Smile” albums are fantastic.

Badly Drawn Boy, Barbican London, 2015

…which brought us now to Sunday when I had a ticket to see live Badly Drawn Boy performing his first LP from 2000 “The Hour of Bewilderbeast“. The show was taking place at the Barbican Hall, situated on the Eastern side of town, in a very modern area stuck between offices and the Shoreditch neighbourhood. Always great to discover new places and theatre halls and that one was particularly amazing and with a great quality of sound. Not sure if this album rings a bell for many of you but this is clearly not the case in the UK where this is one of the classics of the last decade. Crazy of how time flies as to me it was still quite a recent LP and Badly Drawn Boy quite a new singer whereas we are talking about 15 years ago… What makes this LP so astonishing is a mix of modernity and classic songs, as if basically it had been done in the 60’s…or now but by a very strong individual. One can say whatever they want about Damon Gough (his real name) but strong individual he is indeed… Wearing his traditional wool hat (well it was 18 degrees in rainy London so for once the hat might have been justified), he showed his pride and happiness in being celebrated by such an enthusiastic crowd and I must say I spotted a few tears of joy here and there. The band was very subtile as well, being able to slow down and playing beautiful strings while getting noisy and/or funky when needed. BDB, Barbican 2015 setlist was based on songs from his other albums but the first part of the show was where the emotion was. (Re)discover him and start by this LP if you do not know this artist ; the rewards will be immense.

Record Store Day : my Paris experience, Fargo Store

Or “Disquaire Day” if we want to get the precise froggy semi-translation. Record Store Day is an event that has been taken place since 2008 in the USA and UK and arrived on our French shores in 2011, making this year’s event the third edition. When it was created five years ago, the idea was to help all the independent record stores still existing by requesting artists and labels to create specific records that you could only find on this particular day and in very limited editions. We are talking here about nice reissues, coloured vinyls or even songs done especially for this day. The principle is easy and egalitarian : better to arrive early and first come, first served! I can hear the standard reader telling me : “what, queueing to buy vinyl in this digital age ? Are you nuts ? Me, I am very smart and through Spotify or else I can have access to any songs in the world anytime !”. Well, my friend, not sure you have to read more here, except this : there is a great chance that your musical taste sucks, mate !

I did the first edition two years ago through different Parisian stores and did not manage to do it last year ; 2013 was my revenge and I decided this year to go to the beautiful Fargo Store, held by great Austin fanatic Michel Pampelune, who owns as well the Fargo label (Jesse Sykes, Andrew Bird, Joseph Arthur, Neal Casal, etc…). Their Facebook page had been posting all week long with photos of goods arriving, making it an exciting and good teasing. As the store was to open at 10 am (one hour earlier than usual), I planned to arrive there at 9.30 am, which I did… but around fifty people were already there! Amazing to see so many people queueing up to buy a few expensive pieces of music plastic but what a pleasure. Very nice but freezing (8°C) mood in the street as I guess we were around 120 people waiting to be able to get into the shop. After 1h 30 minutes of queue and a few slices of cake given generously by Michel and his staff, I finally entered the shop at around 11 am and woaah, so many amazing records! Although I missed a few very limited ones already bought by the first clients (The Black Keys, Stephen Malkmus playing Can, Shearwater,…), here are the records I have been lucky enough to find :

  • 7 inches : Elliott Smith alternate tracks from “Either/Or” ; Benjamin Biolay 3-7″ remixes set ; Paul Weller “Sonik Kicks” 5-7″ Singles Collection ; Phoenix new single “Entertainment” in marble coloured vinyl
  • LP’s : The Apartments “Seven Songs” recent sessions for the Label Pop show ; Built to Spill “Live” 2-LP reissue (FAN-TAS-TIC!), Low + Dirty Three gold coloured vinyl ; Big Star 2-LP compilation and last but not least a special 10-year edition of Elephant by the White Stripes in a 2-LP version (one white vinyl and the other one black and red!).

Great success for the shop and nice moment ; already looking forward to freezing outside a record store in April 2014!