|GRRRRRRR, I'm a liar, etc.|
n August of 1981, Henry Rollins left his job as manager of an ice cream parlour in Arlington, Virginia and got in the van of punk band Black Flag as their new vocalist, beginning a tour that carried him all over the world, continued through the life of his own Rollins Band and continues today as he performs his spoken word shows. The latest stop on this Mobius strip was London’s South Bank Centre, where a not quite sold out crowd was treated to an evening of ass-numbing proportions.
Rollins, resplendent as always in his customary black trousers and t-shirt combo, bounded onto the stage with the enthusiasm and energy of a man a fraction of his nearly 51 years. It seems that he is still an advocate of the Black Flag live performance aesthetic: there is not a wasted moment or movement during his two hours and forty seven minutes on stage. Two hours and forty seven minutes – that seem to pass in a trice – without moving from his mid-stage starting position, taking a drink or seemingly even pausing for breath. Despite his protestations – he states his anger is like his physique (“I work on it daily”) – it seems that Rollins has softened quite a bit over the years on the road, and rather than the full-blown ranting, sweating, “I’m a liar” polemics of old (though traces of them remain), his spoken word performances have become part stand-up comedy, part punk rock reminiscence and part outsider travelogue. In particular his accounts of visiting Korea and Tibet allow for many laughs and also personal stories of these Orwellian hotspots, allowing Rollins to prove that his angry outsider facade to be just that: a facade. Deep down, Henry Rollins is a people person, and you can feel that as he gives accounts of eating rats with field workers in India, dancing with cobra-wielding Christians in the deep southern United States, and mocking conservatives at his local supermarket. He is now more Victor Meldrew than Victor Von Doom, and he seems much happier for it.
|Jesus wept: the Nineties man. The fucking Nineties.|
I entreat that you catch him in performance in him while you can. You’ve just missed him in the UK and Ireland, but don’t worry: the van will swing around this direction again sooner than you think.The tour never ends, you see.