“Look at that old geezer pretending to be Henry Rollins”, sneers one young thing as your Dad, naked except for black boxing shorts and scrawled tattoos, gurns his way onstage with Some Roadies.

Dad begins ejaculating revelations into the microphone and, in an hour-long rock n roll manifesto, only pauses to pour scorn on a bastardised musical legacy, suggest improvements for the future survival of mankind and bitch about being 40. That’s when the penny drops – this is Henry Rollins. True, his head now bears the handsome silver crest of middle-age, and that automobile-crunching abdomen these days has to be constantly sucked in to maintain the illusion that he’s some sort of Kongzilla in man-form (although his bulging veins alone could pull down buildings), but he’s still one seething hulk of disgust; albeit one with a sly line in knowing self-effacement.

From the opening gouge-in-reality of ‘Disconnect’, where Henry rips out his brain-stem and plugs it straight into mains electricity, to the Slipknot-snapping salvos of 'Get Some Go Again' we’re back in a better age, where it’s Black Flag or Motley Crue; you’re with us or you’re against the evolution of the human species. It’s very Henry, which is great because he’s back in the trenches again, fighting a cultural war against “bands that put trampolines onstage and turn my beloved bandstand into a pink hellhole suitable only for Jamiroquai.” Songs are fired off with the urgency and accuracy of Cruise missiles, each one a lyrical car crash sawn into by razortooth guitar and an artillery-minded rhythm section. It’s a reflexive, visceral, occasionally beautiful noise sculpted from a gushing excess in testosterone and a nagging nervous twitch aggravated by daily confrontations with (grr!) ignorance and (gah!) injustice; it’s very Henry.

There’s also another Henry though, one that’s matured if not mellowed in age, and where years of touring his spoken word shows have honed a biting intellect and instant audience rapport into a mastery of rapier wit and superb stagecraft. We’re never not aware that this is a rock show though, and not Woody Allen presents Groop Dogdrill. Hank is mindful of not alienating an audience who have come to be shouted at by A Very Big And Heavily Perspiring Man. Thus his remedy for recent global conflicts is in encouraging President Bush’s B52 bombers to carpet-bomb the entire planet with the first four Ramones albums, “Cos you just can’t ever shoot another guy who likes ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker.’”

Hardly Benjamin Barber, I know. But part of the enjoyment of the Rollins live show is that it takes the big dumb ‘Rar! Meat!’ machoisms of Pantera and the like and plays it up as the silly primal scream self-therapy group one step away from tree hugging and running through camp fires that it surely is.

It’s unimaginably relieving to see, in a genre that historically bases itself on selling WWF-inclined prescriptions for masculinity, a role model that doesn’t concede to the usual sperm-for-braincells neanderthalism currently favoured by male adolescents with less sense than pubic hair. There’s just one problem…

That could be your Dad up there, you know.












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