Never once stopping for a sip of water, Henry Rollins travelogued a nearly sold out Boulder Theater for just under three exhausting hours Monday night. In a truly Long March, as the tour’s title suggests, the longtime vocalist for the mighty Black Flag kept the audience completely enrapt, silent, hanging on every eloquent sentence. The sole interruptions came in occasional outbursts of laughter, applause or hoots of approval.
Amidst overtones befitting a commencement speech, the just-50 Rollins verbally meandered through travels in Asia (including Pyongyang, North Korea, Lhasa, Tibet and Hanoi, Vietnam), hunting snakes and eating rats in southern India, wrestling alligators in the Everglades and the downright hilarity of the current presidential campaign.
Photos, below, from a 2011 show at the Soiled Dove Underground.
A few highlights hung on memorable quips like these:
“You get to do that with your big, kick-ass American freedom…” Rollins pointed out while discussing some of the rights and responsibilities of free speech, and “I will always believe in Team America!” (His diatribe was pointed at the frustrating cowardice that anonymity on the Internet allows).
“I am, in my own small way,” he said later, “trying to limit the amount of unnecessary Texans,” after a short diatribe about former presidential candidate Rick Perry. He was explaining a deal with a Texas-based artist where Rollins donated his share of proceeds from sales of a recent poster to a local Planned Parenthood chapter.
Rollins repeatedly harped on both the advantage and responsibility of the youth in the audience, members of what he called “the greatest century in human history.”
“The two things you’ve got going for you,” he said, “besides your youth and exuberance, are Tom Waits records and omelets.” The records help assuage the pain of broken hearts, while omelets, being available for breakfast every morning, present the constant chance to start another day.
At 50, and after performing an average of 100 shows a year for the past 31, Rollins continues to present stories from his own unique perspective. Though his messages were still often mired in brutality and constant struggle, they waxed more and more positively last night.
It was a welcome voice, from a latter-day bard that really knows how to use it.