Live review: Henry Rollins @ the Boulder Theater - Reverb

Live review: Henry Rollins @ the Boulder Theater

Post-punk and hardcore icon Henry Rollins gave an exhaustive (and exhausting) performance at the Boulder Theater on Tuesday night. Photo from henryrollins.com.

Post-punk and hardcore icon Henry Rollins gave an exhaustive (and exhausting) performance at the Boulder Theater on Tuesday night. Photo from henryrollins.com.

I can’t help but wonder what local CSI professionals — or, for that matter, Interpol (the international crime fighting organization, not the band) — must think about Henry Rollins’ hilarious (but apparently honest) claim that he’s “left DNA evidence” aplenty on virtually every continent on Earth in his travels.

Does that kind of thing dilute potential crime scene evidence? Or is the granddaddy of West Coast hardcore merely stating a commonly known but rarely uttered fact? Regardless of its effect, the statement — part of a near 30-minute digression about masturbation and the human male (and himself in particular) during Rollins’ spoken word performance at the Boulder Theater Tuesday night — was perfectly representative of his style, and showed where the iconoclast has ended up after such a singular journey.

Henry Rollins is a 21st century renaissance man. There’s simply not much he hasn’t done or left of the world he hasn’t seen in his (nearly) 50 years. His more than three-hour monologue in front of a standing-room only audience that night was an entertaining, enlightening and challenging experience. Erudite, largely self-deprecating and always witty, he led us all on a spoken word journey through numerous countries, high-society speaking engagements and, of course, the occasional bout of “hippy-dippy” (his words) proselytizing about subjects as far and wide as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and annoying aspects of eBay.

That, and of course the aforementioned public meditation on the private act of “relieving tension,” (again, his words).

He took us on this journey with the aplomb of an ancient sherpa, agog with the wide, attention-deficient, wild eyes of a six-year-old boy. Often he interjected his own stories with the wisdom of someone twice his age, but always returned to whichever stream of adrenalized consciousness he’d been meandering through with a wry quip or self-conscious observation that forced giggles and guffaws from the audience easily. By the time he wrapped up and said goodnight, I felt exhausted, satiated — like I’d been caught on a roller coaster for hours. Captive, absolutely. But scared, excited, frustrated and exhilarated all the while.

And he performed this feat — for more than three hours — without stopping for more than a few seconds. And, during that time, not one drop of liquid passed his lips. If that’s not an unspoken challenge, then I don’t know what is.

Other tales of insanely complex world travel (at least from his travel agent’s viewpoint) included anecdotes about his being applauded as he flipped off Than Shwe — Burma’s ruthless dictator — in front of a hotel, and being asked to give the commencement speech to a graduating class at Sonoma University. But the most memorable small tale was his account of sharing music by Iggy and the Stooges with a teenaged native in rural Sri Lanka. After realizing his contribution to Kandy, the city in which this exchange took place, Rollins said he’d completed his work on Earth.

I have to agree.

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Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s explorations at DenverThread.com, and his giglist at Gigbot.

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  • http://www.Orangepeelmoses.com George Peele

    Rollins has more stories than Grandpa Simpson:) enjoyed immensely as usualGeorge Peele