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Henry Rollins - Academy, Leeds, 22/1/2010

  by Spencer Robertshaw

published: 13 / 1 / 2010

Henry Rollins - Academy, Leeds, 22/1/2010


Spencer Robertshaw at the Leeds Academy watches former Black Flag front man Henry Rollins put on a compelling three hour spoken word performance that is poignant, fascinating and chokingly funny by turns

Henry Rollins was good, damn good. We were given over three hours of full on, educated, touching, fascinating, brutal, chokingly funny and mesmerising performance from the man with the tattoos. I got there early and waited outside in the wet, cold, chilly, crappy, windy Yorkshire weather. I didn’t have to as I was on the guest list, but I still did just to make sure that I could get the best seat possible to see this spoken word performance from Rollins. Was it worth it? Bloody heck! Yes, it was. Henry ran out and, thanking everyone for queuing in the bad weather, started the show early. I had the running times and good old Henry came on fifteen to twenty minutes before he was scheduled too. Politics, music, poverty, life, death, travel, mental health, friends, family, cover ups, corruption and more all came under attack and commentary from the magnetic Rollins. A large part of the show covered a manic journey Rollins took. Tibet, Iraq and Bhopal were some of the places mentioned. At the latter he visited a defunct, but heavily guarded Union Carbide factory(Remember the toxic cloud there that wiped out many thousands of people).In a compelling story Rollins told of what he did best – travelling, finding out the truth whilst along the way helping others to a vast library of music he carries with him on a 400 gigabyte hard drive. He introduced a Tibetan teenager to the Stooges as he filled up the lad’s PC with songs on the promise that this young man would spread the word and make friends through music, as music is still very taboo and policed in many places, Rollins told of medieval rules and laws regarding music, freedom and how you can be locked up for just listening to a few tunes with your friends. These great tales ran seamlessly into each other. He did this well. It did not take long after he came on stage before the audience were immersed in Rollins’ crazy antics, which included some good impressions of his friend William Shatner and some scathing mocking of certain ex-American presidents. Rollins is modest and I don’t think it’s an act, I think he genuinely wants to give each fan in the audience his undivided and passionate attention. The show lasted a little over three hours with Rollins not stopping to take a breath or even a drink of water from the bottle by his left foot. I would recommend Rollins’ spoken word performances to anyone. They are well presented and keep you running, ducking and diving alongside Rollins for every single second whether he is being chased by armed guards in Bhopal, giving a corrupt foreign official and leader the finger in front of his armed guards or telling a Tibetan prostitute to do something for him and get out of Tibet . When it ended, Henry Rollins must have been knackered. He gave a true humbled thank you to the audience and made his way off stage. If you get a chance to see Henry Rollins on this or any tour/performance do it. If you don’t have a great time and are not given some five star food for thought, I personally will give you your money back.

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Interview (2002)
Henry Rollins - Interview
Henry Rollins is charming and polite which is a relief, but he soon heats up when he sees me taking down these notes in shorthand. I don't think he's ever come across this before. A. If you take a

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