[a]Henry Rollins[/a] the comedian is actually closer to the late [B]BILL HICKS[/B]...

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Wolverhampton Civic Hall

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Wolverhampton Civic Hall

Despite the sensible trousers and the bottle of Evian, HENRY ROLLINS still comes on like one of the Commando Elite toys from Small Soldiers. That incongruity is all part of his charm, and one that Rollins plays on throughout tonight’s stand-up performance.

He can be as bullish as Norman Mailer, but prefers to question his own masculinity, rather than glorify it. That tattoo-stained, hewn-from-rock body may give the wrong impression (and this is one of Rollins‘ own oft-repeated mantras) since inside there’s an inquiring, compassionate, sometimes naive mind, raising questions and cracking jokes that Eddie Izzard might voice.

Rollins the comedian is actually closer to the late Bill Hicks. Far less intimidating and far more controlled, Rollins, like Hicks, mocks both the bullshit at the heart of America and the bullshit that spouts out of male mouths in front of women. His satire may be bored and his targets obvious (“If you’ve never been to LA before… fuck it, go somewhere else first”) but it’s when he explores his own emotional immaturity that his performance becomes both insightful and hilarious. When he relates how he met his heroes Black Sabbath, he even does all their voices.

‘Men need to listen to women, they could learn a lot’ is the lesson of the evening. And there are a number of professional comedians who could learn a lot from this hardcore hero.