Post Image
Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Henry Rollins @ Hamer Hall, Melbourne 24/06/2023

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.

Read More
Post Image
Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Damien Rice @ Hamer Hall, Melbourne 16/05/2023

Review By Terri Nas

An icy Tuesday night in Melbourne saw a sold-out crowd venture to Hamer Hall to be entertained by the brilliantly talented Damien Rice. With no support act to warm the audience up, we were ready and waiting for the houselights to go down.  The mood was sombre, hypnotising, but full of anticipation, and it felt as if the whole audience was in a complete trance right from the beginning. The intimacy of the venue and stage set up, and the strict no phone policy meant that you could’ve heard a pin drop, and Damien was given our undivided attention as we were eased into the first song of the evening. 

With an array of no less than 4 guitars on stage and some electronic keys, Rice seamlessly floated from instrument to instrument and for the 1 hour and 45 minutes he was on stage, we were treated to the highlights of his back catalogue. Delicate opened proceedings, followed by Insane & then a beautiful piano arrangement of one of my personal spine-tingling favourites, 9 Crimes.

The extremely dim & minimal stage lighting almost felt as if we were all intruding on a private and vulnerable moment, which also added a layer of mystery, as story after story was told in the form of song. Throughout the show the lighting altered periodically, and it gave the illusion that we were watching the sunrise gradually over the duration of the show. A couple of numbers where the dynamic built up in intensity called for more bright and sporadically harsh lighting, which got everyone’s heart started and ensured we hadn’t got too complacent. 

Once we hit about the halfway mark of the set with the popular Cannonball, it was then that the wonderfully talented Francisca Barreto joined Rice on stage. Sitting behind her cello and with her beautiful vocal harmonies, Barreto added an extra rich depth to the songs being performed, kicking off with Astronaut.

Volcano was a huge crowd favourite and had the audience cheering extra loud and wanting more. The next tune was the more upbeat Coconut Skins, where we were told “you can sit on chimneys, with some fire up your ass”. We were then treated to Francisca’s solo vocals during I Remember, and her voice was truly angelic and hypnotising. 

A heckler from the audience yelled out a request for Elephant, in which Damien replied he hadn’t played it in so long so he wasn’t sure he could remember it. But he played the song flawlessly, much to the delight of the requester and the rest of the audience. Another audience member then yelled out a request to play Rootless Tree, and despite Damien’s minimal interaction with the audience in between songs, he hilariously responded “Am I the requests bitch now?” Nevertheless he jumped on the keys and obliged. 

As we approached the end of the set, I anticipated there wouldn’t be an encore given the vibe of the show. So now there was only one song left to play, another crowd favourite and his well-known hit The Blower’s Daughter. He serenaded us by  repeatedly singing  “I can’t take my eyes off you”, but Damien, it was us that couldn’t take our eyes off you. 

Rice is a true storyteller and with his hauntingly beautiful melodies, he has a way of easily tapping into your emotions before you even realise it. I got the impression, given the vibe of the night, that Rice’s songs were there to do the talking so he didn’t feel it necessary to verbally interact with the audience too much. This is definitely one of the most unique and moving gigs I’ve been to, and a truly wonderful experience.

Read More