Orange County was treated to a unique experience a few nights ago; Henry Rollins at City National Grove of Anaheim. The former front-man for Black Flag, Rollins Band, and State of Alert gave us glimpse into his recent world via his famous spoken word performance.
The former Häagen-Dazs manager grabbed the mic and started speaking like a starting gun had gone off. In his “Rollins stance” – mic tightly gripped in his left hand, right hand free for motions, left foot forward and slightly rocking from foot to foot as though he was feeling the tempo, never walking the stage and never breaking eye contact with the venue’s back wall – he spoke on a variety of topics to keep the mostly Generation X crowd entertained. Subjects covered included politics, his Black Flag audition, outbidding eBay trolls for rare vinyl, the chaos that was his 60th birthday, women’s reproductive rights, the overpopulation of the earth, being kind to each other, and more.
No one has the ability to hold the audience in the palm of his hand better than Rollins himself. He is a born storyteller and knows how to use humor, suspense, and drama with descriptive words that make you feel like you are part of the story and you walk away believing you were there.
We don’t want to give too much away, but we can touch on a few items he mentioned. He started the show with a political statement; a small sliver of the crowd in the back didn’t like it so they left. Rollins is very meticulous in his planning, so we are pretty sure he did this as a “Hey, if you don’t like it, this is your chance to leave.” If you know anything about Rollins, these political statements shouldn’t surprise you.
Rollins moved on to a fantastic story about how he accidentally auditioned for Black Flag and was then offered the front-man gig. From there he talked about his 60th birthday, which sounded like something out of a Netflix movie. Again, we don’t want to give anything away but it involved a mentally ill intruder from foreign country possibly spanking him with a wobbly closet rod, giving him a ride to his home in the bushes up the street, a bloody nose, and lots of police.
This “mix tape of thoughts” that was the Henry Rollins show “Good to See You” was a cluster of things that have been swirling in the mind of Rollins throughout the pandemic. He looked forward to the day where he could once again entertain us with his energetic storytelling while doing one of his favorite things; traveling.
With no opener or emcee, Rollins spoke for nearly two hours from start to finish, never missing a beat. Even during his impression of his favorite musician, Iggy Pop, he taught the crowd how to get the upper lip form just right to sound like the music icon. With this, you could see Rollins was very comfortable onstage and really felt in his world. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing Rollins a few times before and on this night, he seemed more comfortable and lost in his stories, but still just as laser focused.
Rollins is now on a small break before he moves on to a few show dates in Hawaii. We can’t wait to see what he brings us with his next tour, but for now, we can listen to his radio show where he plays incredible music and shares his music knowledge and priceless stories.