On a Sunday freezing January night in the unemployment blackspot of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, many hundreds of people turn out in an old Victorian music hall to watch punk rock’s equivalent of Sir Francis Drake talk for two and a half hours about his recent travels and a little about his past, whilst barley stopping for breath.
First coming to prominence as vocalist for the amazing Black Flag Henry Rollins before fronting his own band, he has long since given up making music preferring to appear onstage performing spoken word, acting – most recently in Sons of Anarchy, writing books, a newspaper column, hosting a weekly radio show and presenting various TV shows. Phew!
So fourth date on a fourteen month tour that starts in the UK, Henry tells us that last year was an inhaling year in which he travels and absorbs and this year he exhales and relays his experiences.
I’m not wanting to give too much away, but he starts with a very amusing observation of the typical UK chav tourist family he encountered when flying into Manchester (Shameless?) , then recalls some early Black Flag touring stories including a harrowing stage-diving story and when he met a certain household-name rock band. A trip to India where he was hosting a show for National Geographic was relayed in great detail as were his visits to Tibet, North Korea, Vietnam, Haiti, Kentucky and Costco!
Wherever he visits Henry befriends the locals, keen to absorb as much information, knowledge and experience as possible, he’s refreshingly un-typical of many Americans and repeatedly echoed his belief that if people travelled more, engaged more and shared Ramones albums that war and conflict would be a thing of the past. Amen to that!
For someone with such a stern and serious reputation who admits he has “no jokes”, he recalls each experience with considerable humor and the laughter he receives he welcomes like a singer receiving applause.
At the end he looked privileged to have been able to share his experiences with us, and we felt privileged to have been in the audience.