I saw Lou Reed live once, in 1989, but I missed David Bowie, although he sang near wherever I was 3 times in the last decades. I didn’t want to miss seeing Iggy Pop, who I never saw before and who is not getting younger either. In my mind these three people are connected. On July 24 my wish was fulfilled at Budapest Park.
Having chatted too long at a bar with my wife and a friend we I totally missed the first support band and most of the set of the second too.I read in advance what is allowed at the venue but missed somehow the banning of selfie sticks. So security forced didn’t let me in until I checked that in at the cloakroom. Then they also checked whether I have a camera with detachable lens. I didn’t. After all this I was rather surprised when security forces escorted me out right after I videod a song of the support band, Cruel Hearts Club . They were courteous and firm. Turns out the camcorders are sometime fine and other times not, depending on the acts and this time the management of Iggy Pop asked not to be videoed that way. It was an interesting feeling as lots of people watched me being walked out between these two huge security people to the cloakroom at the entrance. I thought all these people are thinking what I must have done to earn the walk of shame.
We managed to get first line, right at the fence separating the stage (or rather the moat, where photographers and later the singer walked around) from the audience. We had a bit of a shuffle with the people standing next to us, but managed to keep our position as long as we wanted. Iggy Pop started exactly on schedule at 20:25 and played till the bitter end at 10 PM, without taking any break or even slowing down. He got on stage already half naked and my first emotion was pity. Why does a 72 year old man, who looks every it of his age and then some, based on his walk probably has a hip replacement have to get on stage and act like a teenager. First it felt like he has little choice in it. My feelings about him, his motivations and his performance has shifted several times by the end of the night.
First I thought it’s all about money. I was reminded of Leonard Cohen, who basically had to tour till death and most of his money was stolen from him by the Madoff affair. I am sure there are people around Iggy Pop whose livelihood depends on him and I imagine him being a caring person and doing what he can to support him.
After the first few songs it became obvious that he enjoys being on stage tremendously. He’s been there for 50 years. It is probably what keeps him going. The energy and love pouring from the audience towards him. Him kneeling down and positioning himself as a receptor of energies emanating to him reminded me of communal healing/praying I’ve seen at neoprotestant congregations. There, according to their belief, God(‘s energy) is channeled towards the sick in need of healing. Here, the adoration and positive vibes are transferred from us to him.
Later, when he got down to the moat and let the audience pet and caress him my wife pointed out that he behaved exactly like a puppy looking for love. He just moved himself under people’s palms s they would pet him. We saw it from a couple meters away (see the photo on top) and it was heartwarming and scary too. I was sacred a bit for him as one person with bad intentions could have easily harmed him. It was scary for us too, as he got close to our end of the fence people started to push us harder and harder to the fence as they all wanted to get as close to him as possible. We were not squashed, but soon after this little experience we decided to watch the last third of the show from further behind, not from the first line of fire.
Enough theorizing. What is important that we and thousands of others had a blast, Iggy provided a great show with lots of his hit songs. It was a great evening. A few more links to consider:
- An article in Hungarian about Iggy and aging: Bárcsak mindannyian úgy öregednénk meg, mint Iggy Pop
- A YouTube playlist I had put together from the videos people uploaded from this night
- And finally a short segment from the Passenger, with bad audio, but serving as a memory that we were there: