Judge Elizabeth Skipper approaches this spoken-word performance disc with definite awe, if not shock.
When I was in college, Henry Rollins (of Rollins Band and Black Flag fame and Jack Frost infamy) gave a spoken-word performance at my school and I had the distinct pleasure of being one the group of students to eat dinner with him beforehand. And in the maybe twenty words total I spoke to him, I'm sure he learned that I'm originally from Canton, Ohio, because that's the sort of thing people tell celebrities they're eating dinner with. So do you think that's why, in one of his stories on Henry Rollins: Shock and Awe, he chooses Canton as his random example city? Do you think it's because ever since that dinner he's been pining for me but he couldn't find me or didn't know how to tell me his true feelings?
Yeah, I thought so too.
Shock and Awe was recorded live at the Moore Theater in Seattle on March 14, 2004. During the show's 97 minutes, Rollins touches on (and, more often than not, rambles about) various subjects, weaving tirades and tales seamlessly together into an indefinable amalgamation that is not quite stand-up comedy and not quite a lecture and so is dubbed a spoken-word performance. I prefer to call it life advice from a man you don't want to cross.
Rollins is a big man and a loud man and most definitely an opinionated man. When he tells you do something, you really, really want to do it. Despite his larger-than-life (or at least larger-than-you) presence, though, he reveals weakness and humility in his stories that make you believe he is no different from the rest of us. Of course, you only believe it for a minute, and then he switches gears and goes off on some subject or another and you remember that this is Henry Rollins you're watching and he might very well crush you if you don't listen up. When Rollins revealed that he has trouble finding dates, I almost felt pity for him, but when he bragged about throwing a woman out of his car for being "not much of a reader," all I wanted to do was flee to the nearest library.
Of course, if I didn't have such a crush on Henry, maybe his words wouldn't have this effect on me. But I'm powerless against a man who can put together a show like this:
• The President Don't Talk Good
• Hell for Masturbators
• L.A. Living, L.A. Dating
• Post-Ejaculatory Refractory Period
• Home Invader
• My Telemarketer Friend
• Kill Bill Premiere
• USO Tour
• Fun with William Shatner
Be forewarned: Henry Rollins is funny, insightful, and compelling, but he has a proclivity for rambling, to put it mildly. He always finds his way back to the point of the story, but sometimes the tangents that make up the journey become somewhat aggravating. Nevertheless, some of the best intensity of his act comes during those rambles. No one's perfect, not even, despite my crush, Henry Rollins, but I think the pleasure of his performances outweighs the pain.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio and 1.78:1 anamorphic video transfers are nothing special at all, but do you really need good transfers to enjoy a live recording of a spoken-word performance? What, do you need to hear the applause more clearly or see each individual bead of sweat dripping off Henry Rollins's head? I didn't think so; these suffice just fine.
I can't think of a single reason you shouldn't at least rent Shock and Awe, if only to hear Henry Rollins impersonate William Shatner. And, hey, with an MSRP of $19.99, why not splurge on a purchase? It will certainly make a great icebreaker at parties.
I was never a fan of his music, and Johnny Mnemonic? Please. But Henry Rollins has finally found his niche in his "spoken-word performances," and he is free to continue his rehabilitation.
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