Henry Rollins is a weirdo. The once Black Flag frontman, he’s since delved into the world of journalism, poetry, acting, radio presenting and most recently, spoken word, which is his chosen endeavour this evening. There’s Palestinian flags and a handful of protestors stood outside the venue which is testament to the fact that Rollins sometimes rubs people up the wrong way and to be honest, that’s what weirdos are best at. They don’t stay safe, they don’t stay home and they’re not afraid to look silly.
Rollins is a magnificent story teller; this evening isn’t a hushed outpouring of his poetry or even a delightful Q&A complete with tumblers of water and plush armchairs – it’s just Henry, standing there, telling us about his life, just like he would if you stumbled into him at a party.
He’s manic but not off-puttingly so, it’s more this manic obsession for life that pours through, as he tells tales of listening to ‘Raw Power’ in its entirety whilst trying to sleep next to mating penguins in the South Pole. Going from scooping ice cream in his home town to visiting 90 countries means his life is definitely ripe for the story picking.
At the beginning of the two hour ‘set’ – in which Rollins neither stops to catch his breath or to take a sip of water – he speaks of his memories of Lemmy. These heartfelt anecdotes are a welcoming relief to many still grieving his loss, with Rollins fondly remembering the Motorhead frontman; from the time he leant Rollins a few books just to keep him from leaving his apartment to Lemmy necking an indescribable amount of miscellaneous brown alcohol aboard a tiny Scandinavian flight.
The thing that strikes me most though, is that as Rollins tells these tales of Lemmy, of dancing to punk mixtapes with Bad Brains members, of following Dinosaur Jr around on tour is that he’s pretty much just like everyone sitting here tonight; as he speaks of how he freaked out the first time he met his idols, there’s solace in knowing that your idols are, more-often-than-not, just as goofy and unprepared for life as you are.
He also delves into deeper issues like global warming, terrorism and politics – “If I was Obama, I’d want my money back” – that, due to his knack for getting his point across in such a charming way, leaves you thinking about such things long after you’ve left the venue. As the two hours pass by, he leaves us with a final thought: Don’t let the world’s problems frighten you into staying where you are – leave your house, live life, double the amount of shows you go to this year, meet fellow weirdos and do things that scare the shit out of you. He’s a weirdo that made it and it makes you feel like maybe you can too.
Check out Black Flag’s ‘Nervous Breakdown’ here: