My personal affair of admiration with Henry Rollins started way long ago in a distant century. A blistering gig during the End of Silence tour had me locked on. Melbourne University cafe precinct. Makeshift stage. Retina searing bright light. Black shorts. Tattoos and sweat. Thundering vocals, thumping beat, massive riffs and sonic chords that combined lightning flash and the heat from a gazillion volcanoes. From memory it was a Thursday. In the early 90’s.
Now nearly thirty years later, the interest form no has no weakness or obvious signs of dwindling. The music may have stopped being released (a sneaky vocal for Thor aside) but the appetite for performance still present. Only 154 shows this tour, finishing in January.
One of my all time favorite Rollins stories, told at a Melbourne Town Hall show in the early 2000’s, was about the time he visited a remote village in Sri Lanka, deep in the Tamil region. After sharing a meal with a family during which the children seemed disengaged due to obvious language barriers, he checked out the humble abode. Spying a computer against the wall, he suggested would they like to hear some music.
Curious and ok was the response. Out of the rucksack comes the hard drive. Plugged in, booted up. Introducing The Ramones. Blam. 1, 2, 3, 4. A new eternal friendship was created as Blitzkreig Bop and Beat On The Brat pulsated from the speakers. The count in from Dee Dee making the children smile.
The gift Henry gives us all is continued optimism from fearlessly thrusting himself into the world. Asking questions. Listening. Writing. Talking. Being an amplifier for the stories of others to be told.
Last night in Melbourne, at the glorious State Theatre, he gave us a dialogue with a hint of acceptance that the rage still burns against injustice and ignorance (plebiscite, climate science). A testimonial recollection of seeing The Ramones in DC, why punk rock is historically critical and a sorrowful tribute to the immortal David Bowie. Thoughts aghast that when Iggy departs this mortal coil, the black skies of sorrow will be smothering.
The hope Henry exudes though comes from not a group get together and form a collective movement. He appeals for us as individuals to be better. Find our own way. Don’t wait. Get up, get out and learn. Embrace “Generation Pussy”. Be amazing. Be brave. Be kind to each other.