Friday, March 16, 2012

Henry Rollins hits Philadelphia...if you saw him last year save your money

Last night the one and only Henry Rollins marched onto a bare stage, with bright lights shining, he performed a spoken word performance at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia. The venue is new for Philly opening last September, what used to be a spaghetti manufacturing plant. The interior was rustic and spacious with dark wood, think an wild west bar smacked in Philly. It was a sold out audience for one of the few East Coast stops on Rollins new tour, The Long March Tour. He came out wearing his typical black t-shirt, black Dickies pants and black boots. For most of the two plus hours he spoke, he kept in one area on the stage, the cord wrapped around his hand, sweat balls dripping off his left elbow, though he did not take a drink of water, and cracked a smile now and then. It was my third time seeing Henry perform; I was curious how this new show would be. It began with perceived threats to the United States, as an example a lesson on Abraham Lincoln and his address before the Young Men’s of Lyceum that he gave in 1838. The speech theme was; our country's threats are for the most part self contained. There is an ignorance and violence permeating within the ranks. He shared his knowledge of the constitution and the role of state’s rights. We live in a young country compared the Europe or Asia Pacific which can share a multitude of centuries. His impressive knowledge of history was impressive. But, he repeated stories from last year’s show, for instance his trips to Korea, Tibet and of course the trip to Vietnam and the classic punch lines from Mr. Kahn, you can call me anything as long as you don’t call me late for dinner. “John McCain is an angry man.” Another story which was repeated and I remember this one clearly at World CafĂ© was the story of when a girl lost her eye at a Black Flag show in New York. I waited and heard the gasp from those who have not heard or read the story in his book Get In the Van. While I’m at it, he did repeat the rent boy story last year. It is funny, and he added a little more, weighing which was a better candy bar for the money - a Snickers or a Three Musketeers. The story converges with another story which took place in New York City when two homosexuals fought on a sidewalk. So I asked myself, why was I there and would I attend another Rollins show? This was billed as a new show, so I was a little piqued. I expected to hear new stories, but Rollins rehashes his monologues, performances around the world. He shares how he loves the audience and has to always be on the move, he performs approximately 150 shows a year. He does not want to be home. His words, “I am a work slut” permeates his writings. There were some new features this year, but I have to say last night was one I didn’t have to see and I felt this way after the second show I saw last year in Philly, the night before I saw him perform in Harrisburg. It was almost the same show word for word. If you have not seen Rollins, I would recommend getting to a show. What impresses me is his selfishness when meeting his fans, and I am a fan of his. Last night he signed autographs, hugged some women, took pictures and answered all of the questions. His point, he comes from the punk world and there is no difference between him and us and that is the attitude his has. Of course I brought my pile of his books and I had the opportunity to tell him how much his work means to me. I’m close to a year of reading Rollins and my goal at one time was to read all of his books. His work has helped me cope with Ali’s cancer and other distractions. He thanked me for bringing the books and we shook hands. Before he left I asked if there was a possibility the Rollins Band would get back together, “No. We’re done. I’m too old for that sort of thing.” There are some faces I will never forget, the woman posing with Henry as if she was a model and his expression of his amusement. The two brothers with glasses, the one who didn’t shut the fuck up, and Henry nodding and saying, it’s alright…whatever bullshit they were talking about; the speckled kid was on speed since he could not tell Henry was trying to patronize them and move away. Maybe they were all reflections of me as I shivered in the cool mist and waited for Henry to sign my books, but barely could utter sentences. Knowing me, I will see him again since I respect who he is and what he stands for.

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