How I Survived Iggy Pop. Words by Adrianne Kern. Photos by Jonathan Armstrong.
My husband wanted to be near the front of the stage to take photos, so we weaved through ageing rockers, neo-punks and goths, to make it to the second row 30 minutes before the concert began. Surveying my fellow mosh pit inhabitants, I immediately felt overdressed and slightly ridiculous carrying my Italian soft leather bag over one shoulder. An uneasy alliance grew, however, between us as we physically repelled front-row opportunists by closing all gaps between our shoulders, arms and elbows in an unspoken but acknowledged right to be near the stage over everyone else.
When Iggy finally came on stage to a primal raw of appreciation, an ancient, emaciated man in a saggy Iggy Pop skin suit took the mic with the smirk of one who has lived and survived 6 decades of heroin, rock and roll and probably some very late nights. At first I thought he had tattoos all over his chest and arms, until I realized they were veins that had been forced to spring up randomly over his torso and take over from his original, but long since collapsed blood vessels, and continue the thankless task of carrying blood around his besieged body.
Holding my ground to random onslaughts from the crowd behind us (think yells and kamikaze leaps into the neck-high barrier), I began to feel complacent. But when Iggy shouted “fuck the security guards, storm the stage” I thought it was over as the power of 10,000 Iggy Pop devotees heaved forward as a collective force. I saw a headline form in my mind: “Bondi mother of two dies in crowd stampede at Hordern Pavillion”.
It’s incredible what people will do to get on stage. Some rammed elbows into me, others shouted in my ear (a useless act given we stood in front of literally three giant speaker stacks), and one woman actually used her child (no more than 10 years old, tops) as a weapon to find holes in the crowd and burrow through. Men rammed their flaccid penises into my lower back, while others showered beer (I hope) in the air to disperse the second row. My back was defiled, not to mention the leather bag. I could not bring myself to touch my clothes and clung onto my husband’s pecs for dear life. He, in turn, relinquished one hand from his Canon to hold me in what I realised was a powerful expression of love as I know he must have missed a few good shots to do so.
When I realized I wouldn’t die though, something clicked in the most primitive part of my brain. It switched from survival mode to exhilaration as the adrenalin pumped through my body with no predators to outmanoeuvre. Suddenly I was participating in Rock and Roll’s Last Stand. History was unfolding and I didn’t want to miss a grimy second of it. Iggy was a hero in his final battle against authority and stage managed performances. He knew what the audience wanted and gave it in abundance.
When the lights finally came up and the last encore had been screeched, I knew I would remember this concert forever.
And not only because the feedback is still ringing in my ears.