Henry Rollins @ The Barbican, London

A few weeks ago, I finally got to catch writer/actor/speaker/hardcore legend Henry Rollins live at one of his spoken word events – the first time since Download back in 2006 or so.

Without ceremony, Rollins steams on stage wielding the mic like a fist and hits you straight in the feels for three hours straight.

For people who aren’t fans, 180 minutes of non-stop chatter might seem like a living nightmare. I’d question what those people would even be at the show for. For everyone else, time passes at a rapid rate as Rollins takes you along a journey that flows effortlessly from Lemmy’s bed to camping in the Arctic.

Henry Rollins is the logical conclusion to human evolution.

It was no surprise he opened up the show reminiscing about his encounter with David Bowie and time spent with Motorhead’s Lemmy. In fact, the first hour of the entire show is dedicated to these stories, shining a light on their personalities outside of the limelight.

The best part of these stories was seeing the fanboy side of Rollins, hearing him experience what everyone else in the room watching him is experiencing. Music nerds unite.

”People Are Ungovernable”

Following his trip through musical history, Rollins roves through a miasma of topics. True to form, there’s plenty of social and political thought spread throughout.

His key take home message was his separation of the we and the individual. That, as a collective, be that nation, species, whatever, we’re all fucked. He’s obviously well read on environmental issues and openly accepts are collective fate. Not unlike Stephen Hawking recently did.

But it wasn’t all bad news. While we’re all fucked and the future’s bleak, Henry states that as individuals, some of us (you know, people in general) are pretty OK. And they do some pretty OK stuff. Music, films, pizza. Never forget pizza.

Childlike Wonder

While Henry’s personal tales of Lemmy and his experience watching a glacier crumble in the Arctic were stunning, it’s a fundamental element of his character that impresses most upon you when watching Rollins speak.

While some famous, or even not-at-all famous people will happily discuss themselves at you non-stop, it’s obvious Rollins is a sponge. And he drags his spongey self around the world absorbing everything he can, returningand drenching you in it.

He demonstrates an almost childlike-wonder at the world around him. Who’d have thought the man who screamed “I’ll tear your mind up, I’ll burn your soul” would one day stand in front of a packed crowd discussing the ins and outs of wild penguins? It’s a good thing.

As someone who easily falls down google holes of useless information, I can completely sympathise with it. I

It’s really refreshing to see someone with such a rich history and massive influence stepping out of their comfort zone where they are king and master of knowledge, to learn from others and what they have to say.

Maybe if everyone could be a bit more Rollins, the future he spoke of might not be so bleak. Built like a bit of a tank, filled with rage and a thirst for knowledge, ready to learn and accept when he’s wrong, Henry Rollins could be the logical conclusion of human evolution. And if not, hey, at least they coffee’d be good.

Take a look at his latest film, He Never Died, available to buy, rent, stream.


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