Thursday, March 13, 2008

Henry Rollins - Provoked

I'm groggy as hell today - I got back to Omaha around 1:30 a.m. after seeing Henry Rollins at the Rococo. He was touring for his "Provoked" stand-up tour. I've seen Rollins live with the Rollins Band as well as his spoken word. Both are well worth seeing, but I tend to like his spoken word stuff more than his hard rock stuff.

One thought about stand up before I get into my review. I saw Bobcat Goldwait at the Funny Bone a few weeks ago. He was on stage for about 90 minutes. That's typically what I expect for stand up. Chris Rock's best specials have run 90 minutes. George Carlin's so-so latest HBO special ran over an hour. You're talking - no band is supporting you - so it seems that 90 minutes is just the right length.

Henry Rollins was about 20 minutes short from hitting the three hour mark. Yup - take your favorite stand up performance you've seen - be it a Richard Pryor, Robin Williams (please say vintage) or Chris Rock routine - and double it. And Rollins pretty much had me riveted for most of the set (despite the fact that my ass was killing toward the end of the show).

So, what does one talk about for three hours? If you're Rollins, you talk about politics, his life touring and a very extended, but still engaging, story about his anxiety about having to be the lead vocalist for the Ruts for a benefit show. Three hours and not a single mention about male/female relationships or a "didya ever notice..." type of setup. That has to be a record.

Some of his stuff was a tad dated. I could have done without his referring to the Internet as "the Internets" for the 30th time in the show. Rollins playfully used that term because he insisted on using the same language the President uses when it comes to the Web. He kept his Bush bashing to a minimum, mainly because, to paraphrase Rollins, making fun of George W. Bush is sort of like punching an 8-year-old.

Some highlights...
- Retelling a deadbeat dad story in which one kid used the condom his friend was using (when he was 'finished') on his girlfriend because he forgot his condom.
- Rollins pouring over his anxiety of being the lead vocalist of the Ruts, a band he idolized as a kid. Few artists nail male anxiety like Rollins. The YouTube video was the performance he was talking about.
- Rollins on guilty pleasure listening. His story about breaking his Steve Miller Band and Boston records after he discovered punk, only to later buy them later on in life struck a bit too close to home (substitute U2's Rattle and Hum for Boston's self-titled).

The negatives -
Well, it was three hours. I don't care who you are, three hours on stage, you're going to get repetitive. He could have easily trimmed a half hour from the show and it still would have been great. But then he wouldn't be Henry Rollins. His tangents may be long, rambling and sometimes unnecessary, but they are almost always worth following.

I have one day to recover before Bruce Springsteen - another artist who's notorious about going on for hours at a time. And like Rollins, it'll be worth the sore butt and leg numbness.

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