Review: Henry Rollins at Thebarton Theatre, September 22nd.

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Pic: Melissa Donato

Henry Rollins wants you to be a better person. He’s not saying you aren’t a good person currently, nor is he expecting you to take on this hefty task of self-improvement alone. You see, Mr. Rollins also wants to be a better person. It is obvious that the current state of turmoil that engulfs the world, and especially his homeland, has the musician/actor/writer and spoken word artist quite shaken up. So much so that he has had to take a look at himself in the mirror, declare he is no longer an American patriot, happy to be considered a pussy and comfortable to talk openly about some of the terrible movies he has made.

A night with Henry Rollins can be as uplifting as it is hilarious while he recounts the many adventures of his past, some quite recent, sharing stories about his interactions with some of the finest musicians to ever grace the earth (that have also sadly left it this year) and his awkward but at times heart wrenching interactions with fans. Rollins, who classes himself as a socially anxious loner who prefers his record collection to other people is quite the opposite of the introvert he claims to be, when on stage. He commands the room and never loses the pace or intensity of the story he is telling while taking the audience on a roller coaster of emotions.

The performance seemed more like a stand-up comedy routine based purely on the amount of laughter that could be heard echoing around the theatre but it’s the moments where the Black Flag frontman is able to bring his stories to a solemn and sombre point that carry the most weight. In these moments Rollins becomes somewhat of a champion for those that need saving, be it suicidal fans who he speaks with on a regular basis or, on a much larger scale, our planet that is slowly flooding as a recent trip to Antarctica made evident. There was however one part of the show that seemed somewhat hypocritical, Rollins made a point to speak on his distaste for those who think people need to “harden up” and not be so soft, claiming that this is ridiculous as human beings aren’t very hard to begin with. A valid point, and the whole “harden up and don’t be offended so easily” schtick is of course ridiculous, but I for one couldn’t help but remember a piece that Rollins wrote not too long ago about his doubts about depression and how people should simply grab life by the horns. Granted it’s somewhat of a stretch but siding with the fragile humans whilst not acknowledging the hardships of depression seemed a little strange. At the end of the day however, Rollins is the first to admit that he can have hypocritical thoughts and think a fair bit of bullshit that he needs to call himself on, he’s only human after all.

Check out Melissa Donato’s pics from the night here!

By Luke Carlino

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