An evening with Henry Rollins – Arts Centre, Melbourne, Australia 19/09/2016

An evening with Henry Rollins – Arts Centre, Melbourne, Australia 19/09/2016

Hank is back. And on a roll (as usual)...

Ah, Mr Rollins. The quintessential angry, but not-quite-so-young-these-days man. He’s angry for all the right reasons, and he’s got the intelligence to be able to put forward a very substantial argument for the things that he is passionate about.

Henry is in Australia doing another national spoken-word tour. He’s covering your usual cities (Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, etc.), but also hitting Alice Springs, Hobart, and Margaret River. I hope he (figuratively) cracks opens some minds in some of our more culturally sheltered locales.

This night at the Arts Centre, it’s looking pretty packed, and with a pretty good range of ages in attendance. A considerable number of the younger, hipster-ish crowd (hey, it’s Melbourne), and I wonder how much they really know about old Hank. Black Flag who? Who cares? They’re here and they are in for a treat! I noticed while writing this review today, that tonight’s show (also in Melbourne) is sold out.

Hank comes on to thunderous applause, dressed 100% in black (how apropos, but I doubt he gives a shit what he’s wearing). He takes his stance in front, centre stage, mike at the ready, aaaaaaand…he’s off and running! Henry Rollins gives 150%, at a million miles an hour, without a break, flat-chat, for two and half hours; and he was fascinating!

While I had seen Henry Rollins speaking on tv – on his own series, etc. I was surprised at how funny he can be, and how hilarious it is to see this man acting out his inner giggling 15 year-old schoolgirl when speaking about getting mind-blown when meeting his idols. His meeting David Bowie story is pretty damn funny!

Henry did spend a bit of time referencing Australia and current issues, and gave the appropriate amount of time (little) and sarcasm (plenty) to our stupid little plebiscite issue. He does question the possibility of “Bill marrying Tom”, and comes to the sensible conclusion that if two grown people meet and love each other, then let them get married if they want to! He then moved on to his fascination with fruit bats!

Henry’s mention of the plebiscite did lead into a recurrent theme, of only “you” and “I” can make a difference in the world, and about things that matter. If you leave it up to “we”, nothing will get done and nothing will change. Make a change in your own life and how you interact with others – that’s a change and one you can have an immediate influence on!

Henry spent some time talking about his childhood and school years, and how music of all flavours helped him through the bullying and times with his now much-distanced father. Led Zeppelin II to welcome in every weekend – played twice, every time! His recalling of meeting Dionne Warwick really gave me an insight into Henry’s mind – there are certainly some hints of him being on the spectrum, with a touch of Asperger’s-related fixation, but all rolled up with a ton of brains and a fortunate sense of humour.

Until Henry hit a part in a story where he stomped on the stage a couple of times for emphasis, I hadn’t realised that he hadn’t moved since he had begun the show (this is the two-hour mark by now). No shuffling of feet, no moving around the stage to talk to other areas of the theatre, no moving to give his middle-aged back a reprieve (I’m envious), no pause for a sip of water (what water? There wasn’t any)! Seriously focussed!

There were many other totally engaging topics of conversation that I won’t give away – let them be a pleasant surprise for those of you lucky enough to go along. For those of you contemplating, and there are still the odd ticket or two available – do it, do it!

Lisa Taylor
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