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Concert Reviews:
The Stooges Bring Danger, Abandon To The Fox Theatre
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- There's no shortage of bands purporting to be rock 'n' roll's most dangerous. The Stooges don't claim it; they just are.

The Ann Arbor-founded group's sold-out, 80-minute performance Friday (April 13th) at the Fox Theatre was rich with genuine abandon, an occasionally unsettling but exciting ferocity that felt like all hell could easily break loose -- and did at certain points of the show. The music -- raw, whipsaw punk rock -- careened like a barely in-control vehicle, while frontman Iggy Pop, he of the toned torso and dangerously slipping jeans, was a spastic dervish who moved with no real plan other than to provoke as much mayhem as possible.

He certainly accomplished that mid-show, when he brought what looked like half of the population of Pleasant Ridge onto the Fox stage while the group charged through "Real Cool Time" and "No Fun." The Stooges soldiered on as its bodyguards tried to give Pop a little space to do his thing, but the chaos only seemed to fuel him further as he demonstrated a faith that the dozens of dancing hellions sharing the space would hurt neither him nor his bandmates.

There's a little bit of schtick in all this, of course, but it's the well-practiced product of real passion -- and a pretty good time, too. Despite a three-decade hiatus that ended in 2003, Pop and company still have a sense of how to push the envelope and still succeed in blowing the roof of the joint with music and not just gutsy spectacle.

The 17-song repertoire spanned the Stooges' four-decade career, ignoring only 1973's "Raw Power" -- a sore point for guitarist Ron Asheton, who was relegated to bass on that album -- and touching on both well-established favorites (including an opening salvo of "Loose," "Down on the Street" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog") and digging deep for a fierce rendition of "Dirt." The group also drew from Pop's 2003 solo album "Skull Ring" for the reunion tracks "Skull Rings" and "Little Electric Chair" and delivered titles such as "My Idea of Fun," "She Took My Money" and "Trollin' " from "The Weirdness," the Stooges' first set of all-new material in 34 years.

And despite the brittle, unhinged vibe of what was happening on stage, there's no question that the Stooges knew exactly what they were doing musically. Anchored by Scott "Rock Action" Asheton's tight but adventurous drumming and Mike Watt's firm bass lines, the group rode tight grooves that allowed Ron Asheton and saxophonist Steve Mackay a firm foundation for solos. Extended versions of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "Funhouse" maintained their dynamic strength, while more economical performances "1969" and the show-closing "I'm Fried" were still punchy and forceful.

As the concert crashed to an end, Pop implored the "people of Detroit" to remember that "this is a (bleeping) Detroit band!" But no reminder was necessary; this was a night when the home town was happy to have its prodigal, bad boy songs back, dangers and all.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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