DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Iggy and The Stooges: Raw Power In the Hands of the Fans 

Raw and powerful indeed.

Published on October 10, 2011

Iggy and The Stooges: Raw Power In the Hands of the Fans 

Iggy and The Stooges: Raw Power In the Hands of the Fans 

Studio: MVD Visual MVD5234D (also available on Blu-ray)
Video: 1.33:1 Color, NTSC
Audio: PCM Stereo, DD 5.1
Extras: 44-minute Iggy and the Stooges interview segment; 12-minute fan video contest submissions; concert/contest promos; 8-page booklet with Mike Watt’s liner notes and concert photos
Length: 81 minutes
Rating: ****

Raw Power was the third and final studio release from proto-punkers Iggy and The Stooges. The 1973 record’s primal raw noise was like the sound of an apocalypse blotting out the horizon. Thirty-seven years later, the resurrected band brought Iggy Pop’s tales of self-destruction, violence and pitiless desire to the stage during the 2010 “All Tomorrow’s Parties” festival in New York, which is the main focus of this 81-minute documentary, Raw Power In the Hands of the Fans.

Right from the opening salvo of the title track and the lacerating “Search and Destroy” it is evident Iggy and his band—bassist Mike Watt (the newest member), guitarist James Williamson, drummer Scott Asheton and saxophonist Steve Mackay—are an explosion which will not stop. Iggy (who is nearly at the age when most people willingly slide into retirement) shows he has the energy and whip-snap enthusiasm of someone three times younger, biting into his lyrics and pushing the other musicians into a frenzied eruption of pounding bass, lacerating guitar and thumping drums.

Everything an Iggy and The Stooges fan might want (except actually being at the venue) is included. Six lucky fans using hand-held cameras filmed the live performance from a variety of angles (backstage, in the audience, from the back and both sides of the concert space), which provides a visceral, real-time experience which highlights Iggy’s no-holds-barred attitude. The fast-paced editing abets the music’s thrill and buzz, although the sound quality is not overly impressive: the vocals in particular are often undercut in the mix. (The Blu-ray version would likely not be much better in either sound or image.)

The Stooges run through each track from Raw Power, although not in the original recorded order. They deliver mutated blues on “I Need Somebody,” turn the stage over to the zealous crowd during the danceable “Shake Appeal,” and Iggy turns his wrath on an unlucky microphone stand as the group churns through the heightened and menacing “Penetration.”

After whipping through the eight Raw Power tracks, Iggy and The Stooges complete the concert with eight eviscerating versions of other Stooges staples which emphasize their over-amplified blend of British blues, American garage rock, and the raunchy side of psychedelic rock, highlighted by cuts such as the assaultive “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Fun House” and the antisocial anthem “No Fun.”

There are several extras geared toward dedicated fans, including a 44-minute, post-concert interview segment led by the six fans who filmed the concert. While Iggy’s tales and behind-the-scenes anecdotes are noteworthy, the extremely low audio is vexing. There’s also a twelve-minute section—also marred by very muted audio—of memorable video submissions for the online contest which determined which fans would videotape the concert; three videotaped promos for the same contest; and an eight-page color booklet with concert photos and Watt’s vivid liner notes.

—Doug Simpson

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