Henry Rollins: Live at Luna Park review by Matt Fuerst


        Sometimes I, feel so small,
        Sometimes I think I can beat them all,
        But most of the time, I just feel confused...

          -- Henry Rollins, "Fall Guy"

For those of you not in the know, Henry Rollins is the leader of the Rollins Band, which received it's brightest moment of fame with the song "Liar" that was a MTV hit in the mid to late 90's. Rollins certainly made an impression being a very muscle-bound gentleman dressed up in a faux-Superman outfit. The Rollins Band continues to pump out pretty good music but Henry himself is a pretty diverse guy. He has done a good number of movies, occasionally does an odd piece of media (Apple computer ads, voice-overs on the Batman Animated series, etc.. ) but his passion is spoken word concerts. Henry does tours across the United States where the premise is: Rollins with a microphone, on stage, riffing about what bothers or interests him. A few years back, the Luna Park hall invited Rollins to speak one day a week for a month. The Live at Luna Park DVD collects 80 minutes of the various concerts into one cohesive set.

The Live at Luna Park DVD has Rollins discussing a variety of subjects that was on his mind over the weeks. Rollins begins with a simple discussion of how the Luna Park idea came about, and his relationship with the club owner. From there, Rollins has a springboard to various other topics such as his minimalism (including his "little" alphabetized record collection and complete lack of furniture and normal home accoutrements). In total there are about 6 main discussions over the course of the DVD, with the conversations being a very loosely focused rant. The chapter titled "Smile, You're Traveling" starts with Rollins talking about his experiences doing spoken word in Russia (including the immigration, burly women tackling him on the Russian subway and the pain of a 15 second translation delay when doing a spoken word concert depending on live human feedback). From the Russian riff, Henry rolls into his travels around the world to places such as Cairo, Egypt and Israel. Somehow along the way Rollins manages to spend some time talking about being sleep deprived during a 16 hour flight to Australia and bawling at the tragic death of a character in the film White Squall. Henry transitions from story to story quite seamlessly and this very flowing nature of his speaking is what keeps a viewer or audience member interested. It's all a very tightly compacted narrative with little waste, and yet Rollins appears to be shooting from the hip - unrehearsed.

Not all the DVD is grand, some stories obviously work better than others. Rollins has a lot of love for his best friend, Ian and has some teenage hijinks stories that he is obviously a big fan of. While the stories are cute and endearing, they are mostly cute and endearing to him and not necessarily to the audience (yeah, we all dude cute, stupid things when we were teenagers). In watching a DVD like this as a reviewer, you have to kind of separate yourself from your previous impressions of the artist. I'm a reasonable fan of Rollins, I own a CD or two, own some flicks that he is in and generally thinks he's a pretty righteous guy. But that doesn't necessarily mean that his spoken word DVD is going to be good, and more importantly, that it will be good for someone who isn't a Henry Rollins fan.

With that thought in mind, I would say that Live at Luna Park will entertain the average fan, but won't blow them away. Rollins is an interesting guy and has some interesting things to say, but it's not like Stephen Hawking finally has a voice. Rollins speaks some universal truths that we've all experienced, but has traveled and experienced a lot more than most. A hardcore Rollins fan no doubt has already seen this DVD, or at least seen Rollins doing his spoken word live. Still, I'm sure there are stories within that will be new and even the second time around they will remain entertaining.

The Live at Luna Park DVD is a fairly bare-bones affair. It was filmed Full Screen, 1.33:1 and presents a clear enough picture, but nothing ground breaking. The sound consists of Rollins on the mic and some occasional audience feedback (laughter and whistles) so you're not gaining much by having an awesome surround sound system. There is a bonus feature on the DVD, containing another segment where Rollins talks about his meetings with Iggy Pop. While it is interesting, it was a wise cut from the main feature, it just doesn't carry enough to be worthy.

6 out of 10 Jackasses
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