Iggy Pop headlines a curated summer day festival for London which brilliantly represents the musical roots of punk in the UK and New York in the ‘70s.
Opening act Lambrini Girls show how the spirit of punk lives on shouting through songs of the modern-day perils of being a woman, including, Big Dick Energy, Help Me I’m Gay and the glorious call out of street harassment, White Van Man. They don’t see the point of remaining on stage when they can get right into the crowd to get their point across. Expect to see much more from this dynamic, Brighton-based three-piece band.
Lambrini Girls, Dog Day Afternoon, 23/7/1, Rockshot Magazine
The Buzzcocks open with the rousing What Do I Get? They look almost obnoxiously young, tanned and summery. Life seems to have been kind since the 70s. They offer up a mix of classic and new songs. More recent songs like, Senses Out Of Control sound fresh and perfectly at home in their catalogue.
Stiff Little Fingers deliver a tight set of a dozen songs including a lovely cover of The Specials, Doesn’t Make It Right in honour of the late, great Terry Hall. Frontman, Jake Burns, segues and observations add some charm, he promises, “to keep the gibber banner to a minimum”, but he has some valuable things to say. By way of an intro to My Dark Places, he reflects on the period when he turned 50 and how he was in a deep depression he felt he could only keep it bottled up. He advised men, of any age experiencing depression to definitely do not do that, “Talk to a friend, a family member or a professional but do talk”. A healthy portion of the crowd seemed to endorse this message.
Stiff Little Fingers, Dog Day Afternoon 23/7/1, Pauline Di Silvestro
Arriving to the throbbing synth film score intro to Clockwork Orange. Generation Sex is a supergroup comprised of Generation X and the Sex Pistols: Paul Cook, Tony James, Steve Jones and Billy Idol. They rip into the Sex Pistols Pretty Vacant. The performance is relaxed, and they slink into a comically apathetic chorus of, “We’re pretty vacant and we don’t ca…re….” Idol sounds most like himself on Generation X songs and recalibrates a touch for Sex Pistols songs, without trying to impersonate a notably absent Johnny Rotten. Barely moving around the stage, Idol brandishes his trademark snarl to emphasise aggression where there might have once been furious dancing. Getting a huge laugh from the crowd, Cook is the first to admit, “I fink I pulled a muscle. This one, not the other one.”
In some ways, punk has always absorbed the outcasts, they were a group literally defined by otherness. Ahead of Kiss Me Deadly, Idol comments on what it was like being a punk in 77. “Those days it was dangerous to be a punk, there were so many other youth groups who were determined to kick the shit out of you”. In 1977 could it have been predicted that the same gobby, spitting, punching punks would become the most polite, considerate, and inclusive crowd? What a joy it is then, to see the grace with which older and disabled people are integrated into the audience. People in wheelchairs are given space to get closer, and fans with canes compare designs (in one case glitter, or tiger print). Perhaps a shameful omission then is that there was no BSL interpreter.
Wrapping up the set, Idol does triple duty taking on the role of Sid Vicious on a sedate finale of My Way.
Generation Sex, Dog Day Afternoon 23/7/1 Pauline Di Silvestro
Blondie (who could be considered co-headliners for the number of fans who have turned out just for them) take the stage with great bravado, re-introducing Glen Matlock on bass who has become at least a touring member of the band. They efficiently zip through a tight set of greatest hits, opening with One Way or Another, a rowdy version of Hanging on the Telephone, jaunty Sunday Girl and slick Call Me. The synth parts of the later supplied by Matt Katz-Bohen on keyboard guitar (which beyond practicality seems to be having a resurgence).
The sheer power of this band blows everybody’s hair back with Atomic the clarity of Harry’s voice still so clear and melodic. She only wavers a little on the incredibly challenging vocal of Rapture, ever the pro she makes tiny adjustments to regain control. The rap portion of Rapture has mellowed over the years and is mildly less jarring in its delivery if not its content. Harry is still full of energy dancing through the guitar solo, switching her hips and surveying the crowd with an impervious attitude. She addresses everyone, “If we are your dream, then you, you are our dream.” You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone as cool as Debbie Harry is at this stage of her life, incredibly today marks her 78th Birthday.
Harry remarks that their 1978 release, Detroit 442, is inspired by Iggy Pop painting a picture of the longevous and appreciative relationship between both acts. The set strides along with 00s chart topper Maria and a flawless performance of Heart of Glass, with Harry looking regal, dressed in a mirrored poncho. The beat from the trail off of, “oooo-oo-woah-oh” becomes the bass of disco classic I Feel Love with Debbie’s haunting vocal layered on top before transitioning into the riff of Sex Pistols hit God Save The Queen. They ease off the gas a little with X Offender before wrapping with Dreaming.
Blondie, Dog Day Afternoon 23/7/1, Pauline Di Silvestro
The headline set starts with Rune by Noveller (aka Sarah Lipstate) who picks out a heartbeat on guitar before elaborating into an ambient wall of sound by bowing her guitar in dreamy swirls – suddenly the spell is broken with an explosion of barking dogs as Iggy Pop shoots onto the stage like a bullet, disrupting the serenity, the whole band (including a brass section and clanking piano) take up the cacophony.
They blast through songs from Pop’s solo career and time with The Stooges, like the awesome Raw Power – which is.
Pop’s body may look worn; veins raised above the outline of his muscles, the folds of his tanned skin stretched over a strong frame, and his hip (injured long ago) forced out at a disquieting angle, but he moves like lightning and is electrifying as he gyrates around the stage.
Iggy Pop, Dog Day Afternoon 23/7/1, Pauline Di Silvestro
The Passenger is a crowd-pleasing joy that energises the whole audience before he slams into Lust For Life, then drifts into a hypnotic rendition of low-fi reggae The Endless Sea which brings everyone back to calm.
Bringing out core hits so early on has thinned the crowd dramatically by the time he rips through Death Trip. After a little banter with the crowd, he rests for a moment for a dreamy, blues-laden reworking of The Stooges I’m Sick Of You.
Ahead of tearing the place up with Search and Destroy and before an extended encore, including Nightclubbing and Frenzy: A sleazy jazz intro acts as cover until Pop sticks the mic in his trouser band and starts barking and panting, the audience has to hope he’s going to play Now I Wanna Be Your Dog because if he’s not, he’s having some kind of breakdown. He writhes around the stage and drops down on the bridge to tell the audience “I fucking love you”.
We love you too.
Review of Dog Day Afternoon at Crystal Palace Park on 1st July 2023 by Sarah Sievers. Photography by Pauline Di Silvestro.