This is my 100th post for The Aural Retentive.
I have been saving my review of the Henry Rollins show for this particular entry. It seems fitting since I have credited Henry and his books for inspiring me to get this blog started. I carried a folded up piece of paper with ideas on it for many years… but it was starting to read “Smile, You’re Traveling” that really gave me the nudge to actually start.
The show was incredible. I picked up Dalton and we gorged on Chinese food then battled his cell phone navigation (it wanted us to make a u-turn for miles) and made our way downtown. Dinner took longer than we had hoped and I won’t say we were panicked, but we did have a hurry up attitude. Eventually we got there and found a side street parking spot in incredibly short order. A quick jaunt and we were at the Barrymore.
There was a (by Barrymore standards) a huge line, but we quickly realized it was to buy tickets and we already had ours. So we got to go to the short line for once. There we faced the gauntlet of the “bag” guy who checks purses and bags, the “hand stamp” guy
and the “ticket” guy who is in charge of tearing your prized Henry Rollins ticket stub into a barely recognizable chunk of paper. Bastard. My decimated ticket stub.
It could be Henry R… anyone. You are gonna have to take my word for it.
Inside, it was clear that it was general seating and that we were late.
After doing the lost soul walk up and down the center aisle we spotted empty seats behind the soundboard. They were set up on the left as you face the stage and they were sitting in chairs that were inches away from the row behind them, but the row behind that had 4 empty spots. It turned out to be a great place to be. We had to make the Johnny Depp lookalike and his girlfriend get up, but once in our spot, no one sat next to us on either side. Plenty of room.
The crowd was a crazy mix of people. There were hipsters and flannel and people that looked like they were on dates, there were people older than me and a segment of college crowd… a serious slice of Americana. I’m sure Henry would love that.
Right on time, the lights dimmed, the stage lights came on and Henry strode out to thunderous applause. He was wearing black pants and a black t-shirt. He had the microphone death gripped in his left hand and he launched into a pro democratic rant (even Dalton laughed at some of this) for about 15 minutes. I was expecting this… especially in Madison. He ranted about the debate and Romney and Ryan and I would say the crowd was vastly in agreement with him. I think he set the stage in this part of the show, not without a little bashing, but set the tone for acceptance and being human and how with all our differences we are all just people and should remember that.
Having heard 20 or so live shows of Henry’s in the past, some that I have listened to over and over again (Eric The Pilot) I was worried that seeing him live, especially with the political stuff would be a let down. No worries. It was fantastic. If you ever get an opportunity to see Henry Rollins you should 100% go. There is no substitute for seeing this man live. The Barrymore was quiet and respectful and Henry commanded the stage for 2 ½ straight hours. No drink. No break. Just non-stop stories and social commentary with humor and compassion and venom and zeal.
He talked about his father, marrying 2 people at Fun Fun Fun Fest (his talk to the couple prior to the vows was hysterical) and going to Iran and crazily getting into a crowd of angry men and with the help of his interpreter turning them all into friends by shaking hands and then buying soap and soccer balls (their request) when he asked them what they needed. It was a story of compassion that he was able to make funny and serious at the same time.
He also talked about his gig with National Geographic and the Animal Underworld show.
It was filmed all over the world and he talked about the camera man and how they would mess with each other. One seriously messed up story was of how they were interviewing a foreign local doctor who claimed that cow urine was a cure all. Of course they filmed Henry drinking some, and his horrible reaction. Then when the camera man requested he do it again for a better shot, he did, only to be told that the first shot was good, he just wanted to see him do it again.
Henry mentioned several times the writings of Abraham Lincoln and what an impact they had and continue to have on him. Note to self, get some.
For me the funniest part of the show was when he described his pre show workouts and his analogy for his life, the elliptical machine. He described that he had 3 files that he listened to in order to help him continue his pace through his workout. “They are GO part 1, GO part 2 and GO part three”. He screamed each GO as he said it. These were mixes of Slayer and The Ramones.
He also talked a bit about the Black Flag days and how it was his job to float in the crowd after the show and score a place to sleep for the broke band. He described a good stay, where the mother of the fan woke up and made them pancakes before they crashed and breakfast in the morning, also one where they stayed in a hovel and had to de-louse afterwards. Those days he documented well in “Get In The Van”. Check that one out.
My pictures from the show were a pretty dismal fail. The stage lighting made Henry look like anti-matter he was so shiny. It didn’t help that we were behind the sound board monitors bright light either.
He did move to the left once and I was able to get a shot that proves he was wearing black clothes.
Otherwise, his outline could be anybody. Anybody buff that is. The man is 51 and is still a serious specimen.
When he was done and left the stage, I sat smiling. My first Henry Rollins show. Loved it.
A quick blurry shot in the lobby with the poster
And we were off.
Thanks for the ticket Dalton! It was awesome.