Henry Rollins at The Royal Festival Hall 20/01/12

henry rollins

There are many roads to Henry Rollins, his visceral dark angry music with Black Flag and the Rollins Band, his visceral dark angry books, and then there’s his spoken word. While you’ll get the all the viscera and the Angry you can handle, you’ll also get a roller coaster evening of stories, anecdotes, observations and opinions that will leave you laughing, inspired and well, moved.

Henry Rollins seems to have spent more of his adult life onstage than off, and it’s clear that he relishes every moment of the 2 and a half hours he spends onstage tonight. No encore, no notes, not even a bottle of water, just a tenacious desire to share as much in the time he has. This evening’s set begins with some tales from his early days in Black Flag, including meetings with Dennis Hopper and a fledgling Metallica. It’s not all rose tinted memories though as he recalls events where one fan lost an eye due to an overzealous overweight stage diver, and another where they saw a guy get stabbed in a parking lot as they loaded their van after a gig.

He told more stories of his current life in L.A. including being constantly harangued by his personal assistant Heidi or ‘The Demon’ as he constantly refers to her. An account of their trip to purchase a ladder form Costco may not seem like comedic gold, but Henry in typical form spins it as an Epic tale into the bowels of modern America.

From America, Rollins takes us abroad with stories from his time last year working as a presenter for National Geographic. His enthusiasm for travel and new experiences punctuates tales of snake catchers in Southern India to Pentecostal Church goers  in Tennessee that bring venomous snakes to their church to mix it up with blues gospel and speaking in tongues.

Apart from filming documentaries, Rollins seems determined to get as many visas as possible in his passport before he kicks the bucket, travelling to as many out of the way places as possible. He seems especially keen to visit places Americans are not ‘supposed’ to be welcome: Syria, Iran, and North Korea. His self funded tour of these so called Axis of Evil countries gives him a new perspective on the warmth of the locals and the legacy of the Bush era. Or as he puts it, “It’s a lot harder to bomb people when you discover they’re not that much different to you”. Hitting out at Bush’s warmongering and the ignorance of much of America may be an easy target, but it doesn’t stop it from being fun. By the way he does an excellent impression of his ex President, with his appalling abuse of the English Language and his ‘Speechifying’.

Henry rounds the evening off by summing up his philosophy and hopes for the future. Reminding us that this is ‘our century, we’re not going to be around for the next one’ and that it’s up to us to make it the best we can. Simple platitudes maybe, but Rollins’ energy and charm are infectious.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening then, by turns hilariously deprecating, educational and intriguing; a well needed dose of ‘Positive Henry’.

Get Some Go Again.





God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.