Wednesday night we went to hear Henry Rollins perform spoken word on his "Provoked" tour. And did he deliver. Three hours of non-stop stories with an edge, and a message.
I actually met Rollins a couple of times in Minneapolis in the late 80s/early 90s-I was married to his guitarist's brother. The couple times the band came through town I got to go backstage, out to "Perkins", or behind the scenes at Lollapalooza to visit. (I'm sure he wouldn't remember me.) I remember him as being somewhat quiet when he was offstage, which is hard to believe if you see him perform.
I can't summarize the content of the show, there's just too much of it. He talks about his travels, his relationships with other bands and musicians, politics, and more. One story that stood out to me was the story of being in Islamabad when Bhuto was assassinated. Henry, when he has some time "off," will hop on a plane and go just about anywhere - especially those places to where he's been told not to go - and meet locals.
Now I could sit here and try to write the "review" that you'd see in the paper, with the punk and historical allusions to his career, but I can't do that. I don't know enough about it to talk about it. What I do know is that the Henry Rollins I watched perform in the late 80s/early 90s has evolved from -- as he said in his opening -- thinking in terms of "people suck." Now he's sharing stories of people whom he finds amazing: people he's met in his travels, on tour, and in the industry. And he's sharing these stories with a profound humility, taking jabs at himself more often than he jabs at others.
Another interesting part of the show was the audience -- my boyfriend and I are about Henry's age -- mid-late forties, and we sat at a table (this was a dinner theater) with two college sophomores. Girls my daugher's age! They LOVE Henry, think he's "hysterical." (I remember being backstage at Lalapalooza circa 1990, when that daughter was toddling around and made Henry smile-ever so briefly.)
If Rollins is a voice for my generation, I'm proud of that. Welcome to middle-age. It does get better.