LIVE: AN EVENING WITH HENRY ROLLINS, Perth, 23 September, 2016
The Regal Theatre, Perth, Western Australia
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Hank Rollins has long ago realised that he can communicate his ideas far better through spoken word performances than through any of his punk rock bands, though similarities in his delivery of both remain.
Looking fit and buff (though not as buff as he once was) in plain black, he strides out and adopts a fighter’s/lead singer pose, one foot slightly forward, microphone cord wrapped around the fist tightly clenched around his microphone, and launches into a tirade that barely pauses for two-and-a-half hours.
Rollins is smart – smarter than me or most in the room. He’s also insightful, intuitive, topical, socially aware, inspirational, does his research, isn’t in the slightest bit worried about embarrassing himself, and bloody funny.
He launches the show by talking about the futility of Australia’s upcoming marriage equality plebiscite – but this being Rollins, he takes in his early rock band tours to Australia, record shop buying, being a ‘patriot’ American, his homophobic father, rock tours boycotting North Carolina, hate mail, Donald Trump, the systematic dumbing down of the populace, and the human condition itself – all before finally stressing that “I, you – WE, need an upgrade.”
Rollins comes back to this overriding theme time and again. Let’s be better people. Let’s be more tolerant people. Let’s never stop trying to improve ourselves. Be open to new ideas, even if they contradict ones which we have been taught since birth. Look for truth.
Truth, in a way, is what a Henry Rollins show is all about: whether he’s talking about meeting young people in Sri Lanka, Germany, Australia, England, America, he’s sharing the truths he holds dear with them: a heavily tattooed, iron pumping, punk rock screaming, buzz cut poster boy for tolerance and understanding. In his words, encouraging “an intellectual revolution with science and rock n’ roll and ideas.” That makes him a philosopher in my books.
No-one name-drops like Henry Rollins, telling stories about meeting Dionne Warwick, The Ramones, Ru Paul, Lux Interior of The Cramps, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Captain Sensible, all of which are hilarious, self-deprecating and touching.
The more he talks hyperactively, throwing down a myriad of funny voices and accents (I’ve never heard a better Iggy Pop impersonation) as he barrages us with anecdotes, hilarious stories and bigger ideas, the more he looks and sounds like the punk rock Robin Williams. Now there’s an outcome for the former Black Flag singer that I bet no-one saw coming!
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Filed Under: Live Reviews
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE