Review By Noah Redfern
Author, traveller, storyteller and punk legend Henry Rollins is a storyteller at heart. Quite possibly the world’s most well-travelled rock star, and literally a man who will never stop moving, Rollins is a sight for sore eyes in a world of stagnant, aging stars and egos that collapse under their own weight.
The Washington DC native brought his Good For You speaking tour to Melbourne on Saturday night at the glorious Hamer Hall. For almost two and a half hours, we were treated to a non-stop thrill ride of off kilter talers, semi deranged non sequiturs and trials of the mind and soul.
“I’m going to try to fit an extra twenty seconds into every minute tonight” Henry told us almost immediately after hitting the stage, “otherwise you’d be stuck here for four or five hours”.
For those who aren’t familiar, Henry Rollins rose to prominence in the 1980s as the fourth and most prominent singer of the hardcore punk rock band Black Flag. Leaving the band in 1986, Rollins jumped at every creative opportunity given – going on to be something of a renaissance man. Becoming an author, spoken word artist, actor and activist, Rollins has lived more in one lifetime than most men could in a dozen.
Fans of Rollins’ signature brand of word salad were overjoyed – the ten-laughs-a-minute brutality of wordplay demanded constant attention. Never taking a breath, never taking a sip of water, the show just kept going at am almost exhaustive rate, yet I could never lose interest or become bored. Henry would sometimes pause a story to promise us it would make it to a catharsis just when it seemed completely off the rails. There was no doubt that Henry’s style is nothing if not charming.
Never begging for applause, Henry would earn it every time. Weaving various stories together and delivering a wider message of optimistic nihilism, we learned of Henry’s life. His youth in Washington DC, abusive parents and finding solace in friendship and punk rock. But these stories weren’t all lessons and heavy topics – every tangent was packed with humourous observations.
One memorable moment told us of his paranoia of a home invasion – and his eventual respect for his potential stalker, while another told us of his detached relationship with death, and of the ashes of his alcoholic mother he forgot he left in his car before departing his home in Nashville last November for this extended tour. Finding the humour in the darkness, searching for the light in the horror, Henry rose through that sickness and strangeness of today seeking positivity, hilarity and joy.
A true one-in-a-billion character, and a great example for men of today. A first glance, one might assume Henry to be a world of machoism and toxic masculinity. With his muscular figure, tattoos and almost military attitude, you’d be right to think so of the sixty-two year old.
Upon listening to the man speak and share, you’ll learn that Henry is the shining example of what men, in particular aging men should be. Reminding the older generations that it is okay to step aside and let the youth take the reins. Reminding us all that empathy, love and positivity can prevail when we let it.