Review: An Evening with Henry Rollins

For two-and-a-half hours Rollins delivered insights on a range of topics both personal and political underscored by a heartfelt plea for viewers to be “exceptional” and spurn injustices, punctuated by rollicking bursts of self-deprecating humour. Despite addressing a packed venue of over one thousand people, the evening felt more like stumbling across a sagacious and intriguing…

For two-and-a-half hours Rollins delivered insights on a range of topics both personal and political underscored by a heartfelt plea for viewers to be “exceptional” and spurn injustices, punctuated by rollicking bursts of self-deprecating humour.

Despite addressing a packed venue of over one thousand people, the evening felt more like stumbling across a sagacious and intriguing acquaintance at a party rather than essentially receiving a lecture from a now grey-haired guy associated as a figurehead of the ‘80s punk scene.

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Rollins’ verbosity is something to marvel over. For the entirety of his set, his speech did not falter once (not even for a drink of water, the poor parched man). Effortlessly transitioning from one anecdote to another, Rollins shared stories from his past as a touring punk musician and occasional cameo actor in a number of second-rate films, peppered with sidesplitting impersonations of names like David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lemmy and J Mascis from personal encounters with them.

He simultaneously wove in critiques of outdated societal institutions including racism, homophobia, and sexism, and passionately urged audience members to reject these concepts and educate themselves as life is inherently painful enough.

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From quips about his social anxiety upon being recognised in public to words of warning about global warming, Rollins delivered a performance that was unashamedly vulnerable and beautifully genuine. A true wordsmith, his assertions had audience members teetering on the edge of their seats, clutching their sides from laughter, or poignantly nodding in response to a statement regarding the injustices governing the world.

Uttered with the intimacy of an autobiography and unconventionally packaged in the format of a stand-up comedy routine, Rollins demonstrated that he is truly a force to be reckoned with. In providing an astute, accessible, and engaging social commentary through emotionally charged personal reflections, Rollins consistently reminded the audience of the fragile and profound nature of the human condition.

Concluding his set with a humble bow, viewers clapped for several minutes after Rollins left the stage before filing out of the venue with thankful smiles on their faces.

5 stars Henry Rollins spoke at Thebarton Theatre on Thursday, September 22

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