Berlin ColumbiaFritz

There's no denying that [b]Rollins[/b] is retreating to his roots...

[a]Henry Rollins[/a] is hitting 40 (but you didn’t hear it from me, right?) and still loving every minute of it. “I’ve got the best job in the world!” he bawls, while performing his trademark “urgent squat”.

His job is rock; glorious feel-good rock with chunky riffs wrapped around actual melodies. [a]Henry Rollins[/a], the straight-edge Jim Morrison it’s okay to be afraid of, is playing his 99th gig with Californian power trio Mother Superior.

“Sometimes you need a break from songs about chicks and cars and men leaving women,” he informs us. So bring on the songs about blokes leaving home and walking until they freeze to death in the name of “self-definition”.

Being intense has never been the same as being cool, or even any good, but Hank manages to roll enough wit into his songs to make you forget you’re laughing at yourself. But if you want Henry Rollins‘ two cents on the subject of life, go to a poetry reading, sucker. Tonight is strictly for the hardcore at heart.

Unconsciously, the band apes fellow garage rockers Metallica with a Thin Lizzy cover, the raucous ‘Are You Ready?’, rendering it less of a come-on and more of a ‘come and have a go’. There’s bile a-plenty too for any Californians in the audience, Rollins‘ advice to them being “go die”. ‘Hotter and Hotter’, co-written by MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, is the most menacing of tonight’s songs, setting a sickening bass line to a ghostly growl from Rollins. Call it retrospection, call it nostalgia, but there’s no denying that Rollins is retreating to his roots. There will be no slick, high-tech videos to promote this album, no trendy photo shoots. Musically, there will be no subtlety. Judging by tonight’s performance, the Rollins Band will get by fine without them all.