• Tribute To Ron Asheton Featuring Iggy & The Stooges

    Released by: MVD
    Released on: June 4, 2013.
    Director: Sean Kelly
    Cast: Iggy & The Stooges, Henry Rollins, Jim Jarmusch
    Year: 2011
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    The Movie:

    Ron Asheton was ridiculously influential. He earned his place in music history as the original lead guitarist on the Stooges' first two albums. When it came time for the third album, Raw Power, he played bass while James Williamson handled guitar. When The Stooges disbanded, he played in New Order (not the UK band), and more importantly Destroy All Monsters. He kept busy enough. When it came time for The Stooges reunion though, he reclaimed his proper place, up front on guitar. His influence, primarily from those first two Stooges albums, in undeniable. This band changed music and he played a huge part in how they did that.

    Sadly, on January 1, 2009 he was found dead in his Michigan home, the victim of a heart attack. He was sixty years old. His band mates stayed reasonably quiet about all of this and it wasn’t until April 19, 2011 that they held a proper tribute show. Sometimes these things, understandably, take some time to put together. In this case, the show was held, appropriately enough, in Michigan, The Stooges’ home state. The venue? The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. All proceeds from the show, and from this subsequent DVD release, go to The Ron Asheton Foundation, a charity set up after his passing dedicated to his two passions: animals and music. This group helps to subsidize veterinary care and school music departments among other things. All of this has been done for a good cause and in Ron’s name – a nice touch.

    As far as the line-up for the concert goes? The show itself starts off with Henry Rollins doing vocals on I Got A Right, backed by and drummer Scott Asheton, guitarist James Williamson, Steve Mackay on saxophone and Mike Watt on bass. Of course, once Henry is finished with the opening song, Iggy comes out and handles lead vocals for the rest of the night. Deniz Tek from Radio Birdman pops up here and there to help out on guitar duties as well. Interestingly enough, the band also bring out a string section accompanied by some trombone and trumpet players for three tracks, something a little different.

    The complete track listing for this release is as follow:

    I Got a Right (with Henry Rollins) / Raw Power / Search and Destroy / Gimme Danger / Shake Appeal / 1970 / L.A. Blues / Night Theme / Beyond the Law / Fun House / Open Up And Bleed / Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell / I Wanna Be Your Dog / TV Eye / Loose / Dirt / Real Cool Time / Iggy's Speech / Ron's Tune / No Fun

    Observant fans may not the inclusion of Ron’s Tune up there in the set list. This is a track done acoustically (Williamson handles guitar here) with Iggy on vocals and it’s a song obviously written in memory of Ron Asheton. It hasn’t appeared on any recordings before or since this release (it wasn’t included on the recent Iggy & The Stooges album Ready To Die, just released earlier this month).

    Regarding the performance itself, it’s a good one. Iggy is, as expected, a maniac on stage. He struts, he wiggles, he dances and he flails about like a lunatic. As seems to be the norm, he gets people up on stage to join him during the closing number, No Fun. He seems to feed off of the audience’s energy and age does not seem to be slowing him down one bit. The band sound tight, or at least as tight as you’d want them to be. There’s still a bit of improvisation here and there, the right amount of barely controlled sloppiness that makes The Stooges sound like The Stooges. The orchestra added for the three songs prior to Ron’s Tune give things a different (albeit simultaneously familiar) sound and help to keep things interesting while the varied set list works in pretty much every song you’d expect to hear at a tribute show like this (and not a single track from The Weirdness in sight!).


    The show was shot on high definition video and is presented here framed at 1.78.1 in anamorphic widescreen. Video quality is crisp and colorful, detail looks nice. There’s some mild motion blurring when things get in close to Iggy, because he simply won’t stop moving, but that’s just sort of the way it goes. No complains here, this is a nice looking image.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, there are (not surprisingly) any alternate language or subtitle options provided. The quality of the mix here is pretty solid. Levels are nicely balanced and there’s good differentiation between the different instruments used in the show and the vocals. It’s clean and crisp without losing any of its energy or volume. The Stooges play loud and even at a pretty high volume, this mix comes through really nicely and it sounds accurate and true to the source.

    Extras include an extended interview section with Henry Rollins in which he elaborates a bit more on his love for The Stooges, menus and chapter selection. Inside the keepcase is a full color booklet of liner notes featuring a written introduction by Rollins as well as some pictures from the show and credits for both the concert and the recording/DVD production itself.

    The Final Word:

    This disc effectively serves as a great document of a night that was both a fitting tribute to a beloved musician and a seriously intense performance in its own right. The presentation is nice, MVD throws in a couple of cool extras, and the feature attraction one that every Stooges fan ought to own. Given that the proceeds for this to go a charity set up in Ron’s honor, it’s pretty easy to give this a heartfelt recommendation. Great music for a great cause.