Iggy Pop's already legendary closing set at the Tibet House benefit concert on February 26th will go down in the annals of rock history in another way: The recent Hall of Fame inductee has gone on the record saying that the infamous dive off the Carnegie Hall stage will be his last. "When I landed, it hurt, and I made a mental note that Carnegie Hall would be a good place for my last stage dive," Pop told Rolling Stone's Austin Scaggs in a Q&A in our current issue.
Various news outlets have reported that the audience let him fall, but visual evidence of the event has been hard to come by. Now Rolling Stone has video of exactly what went down.
We were in the third row, enjoying the Tibet House annual gig's typically eclectic mix of rockers and world artists (read our full report on the show). Patti Smith had just revved up the crowd with a classic extended take of "Gloria," and then ceded the stage to "one of our sacred veterans" while her band played the opening chords to "The Passenger."
Iggy stalked the Carnegie Hall stage, ripping his black shirt off barely 30 seconds into the song ("Aw, fuck this shirt!") and doing his patented iguana dance. He owned the place. I turned to my friend Steve and asked facetiously, "Do you think he's going to stage dive?" Steve smiled and continued to record video of the performance on his cell phone.
Before the set closer, Iggy demanded that the house lights be turned on. When the Patti Smith group launched into "I Wanna Be Your Dog," the audience went nuts. With the crowd in the palm of his hand, Iggy hovered near the edge of the stage. A man with glasses, who had earlier entertained the crowd when he rushed the stage to bop along to Smith's set, was right underneath him and beckoned to Iggy to jump. I thought this was it, get ready, because depending on the trajectory of his launch, Iggy could have landed right on us.
But he never made it. Although some people in the front put up their hands to catch Iggy, those in his direct path let him drop, including the gentleman who had been goading Iggy to dive. Once Iggy was airborne, the man, in a total George Costanza move, pulled his arms back and stepped to the side. Others in the first and second row parted like the Red Sea. I screamed, "Completely uncool!" at the people in front of us as Iggy crashed face-first into a seat.
As the band kept playing the riff to "Dog," Iggy was stunned, if only for a couple of seconds. Then, digging the punk-rock momentousness of his actions, he smiled, stuck out his tongue and started singing the song while still draped over the seats. Iggy got up, climbed back on stage and finished the performance — and further cemented his legend as the ultimate rock & roll provocateur.