We’re all really aware of the kind of theatrically and demonically charged performance the esteemed forefather of punk Iggy Pop has up his sleeve. With his band The Stooges, he did it all, smear peanut butter on himself? Check. Cut open his chest and bleed on his audience for effect? Check. Try to fight a hoard of angry bikers in the crowd? Check. Iggy Pop has officially done it all.
So when he was asked to perform his then-new single ‘Lust for Life’ in 1977 on the Dutch TV programme TopPop, he was never going to hold back. Below the footage shows an almost absurdist take on the man’s iconic track and a quite captivating performance ensues as Pop prowls the studio like a friendly yet rabid animal. It’s completely encompassing.
Iggy Pop was officially on the promo circuit following the release of his David Bowie-produced album Lust For Life and was being booked across Europe for a series of appearances, with the shows looking to cash in on his chaotic performances. While none truly dared to invite the notorious singer to speak, perhaps worried about what would ensue, Dutch TV show TopPop was keen to have Iggy perform the new song.
TopPop was the first regular dedicated pop music TV show in the Dutch language area. Dutch broadcaster AVRO aired the programme weekly, from September 22, 1970, to June 27, 1988. It acted as Top of the Pops did here in the UK. It welcomed a host of incredible acts like The Jacksons, The Cure, XTC, Grace Jones and so many more. But perhaps one of its finest performances came from Iggy Pop.
As such, it required its artists featuring on the show to mime their current hit for a performance segment on the show. Some artists would likely find comfort in this fact, that they were free to mime both the singing and playing of their instruments. But Iggy Pop doesn’t do ‘comfortable’ very easily.
With Iggy being asked to not only mime the song but perform without a backing band (fake or otherwise), Pop took it upon himself to give the viewers a special performance the only way he knew how: by going absolutely batshit crazy. With the first few iconic notes of ‘Lust For Life’ landing, Iggy grabs a stagehand and begins to twirl him and spin him while posturing like a punk-crazed gorilla—and it doesn’t end there.
He continues his theatrical performance as by parading around the stage, pulling down the set as he prowls the stage, and generally causing havoc wherever he goes—all while badly miming the song. It’s a stunning performance and really puts all those years of static acts on Top of the Pops to shame.
The performance naturally gained a lot of attention from the Dutch Press. It became a sensation and would not only see Iggy have a spot booked on the same show next year but would also see his ticket and record sales soar in the Netherlands.
Of course, the press would be intrigued, Iggy Pop delivers an absolutely captivating performance that would fit in a darkened Soho theatre. Aggressive, agitating, antagonistic and all-round awesome—it’s Iggy Pop at his best. Watch Iggy Pop perform ‘Lust For Life’ on Dutch TV show TopPop from back in 1977 and see what all the fuss was about.