[LIVE REVIEW] An Evening with Henry Rollins

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Henry Rollins (Spoken Word Performance)

Sydney Opera House

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Review by Derek J. Huckel

Henry Rollins was his usual engaging, informative, and entertaining self. In the ‘Festival of Dangerous Ideas’ guide, which tonight’s performance was a part of, he didn’t talk a lot on the topic of Blood Sports, which was to be about the US Government, but he did talk a lot, as per usual, and it was still very good.

If you don’t know or not seen him before, Rollins was a singer of the legendary American punk band Black Flag, and later the Rollins Band. He was now on about his thirteenth spoken word tour to Australia times, talking about his views on life (“I like records better than I like people…”), politics, the world, and experiences with bands, people – basically his philosophy and life. And that’s what we got more from him tonight.

Even though it’s him having these experiences, it’s mostly relatable. This is refreshing, like when he meets David Bowie at a music festival (who he and members of the Rollins Band comically referred to as ‘The Bow’), he described getting a dry mouth and choked up in Bowie’s presence like we would. We might think ‘Ahh, he’d meet rock stars all the time, it’s a part of his life…’ but no. Rollins also shared anecdotes of meeting Lemmy on many occasions but one time he expanded on was when he got to spend an hour beside him on a small plane. He was blown away when the Motorhead singer used the word ‘trammelled’. The airline didn’t have his liquor, and his crew always kept a supply for him. Pulling it out, he prepared his beverage and remarked “I will not be trammelled by a mere airline.” Only Nixon, Twain, thought Rollins and… now Lemmy use this word, and with such at ease!

Regarding American Politics, Rollins did share why he can’t consider himself a patriot. He didn’t want to tell us how to run Australia but rightly suggested there should be no plebiscite, just pass the Marriage Equality law and move on. It was like he took three breaths and drank no water all night, relating his experiences like a verbal machine gun, fitting so much into two and a half hours. From being in ‘the worst movie ever’ Jack Frost to being a white supremacist in Sons of Anarchy, to the issue of climate change.

Rollins related his experiences on being on a science exploration ship to Antarctica, and told first hand of the sad decline our world is in, he again encouraged all present to ‘be exceptional’ on this issue.

It’s always a great insight, into him and how he looks at the world. Catch Henry Rollins soon.

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