Henry Rollins brings The Long March to Durban

I’ve started doing some freelance writing for a local entertainment and lifestyle website. Unfortunately though, despite submitting articles about upcoming Durban events weeks in advance, the pieces are, so far, never placed online in time. Much to my frustration. And hopefully not to my financial detriment. Anyway, here’s the blog post I wrote about Henry Rollins’s recent South African tour, followed by my thoughts after attending Saturday’s show in Durban.

Outspoken entertainer Henry Rollins hits Durban

Given the number of sell-out comedy shows that regularly take place in the city, it’s pretty safe to say that Durbanites are huge comedy fans. This month though, local lovers of stand-up will be treated to something different... in the form of outspoken social commentator Henry Rollins. Noelle Adams introduces the outrageous counter culture observer.

Henry Rollins may not be a household name in South Africa but the multi-talented entertainer has racked up a varied career over the past three decades. Rollins initially gained recognition as the singer-songwriter of highly influential Californian punk band Black Flag in the early 1980s. He’s since produced for other music groups and worked as a radio DJ, columnist, published author and blogger. Rollins has also been a TV presenter, voice artist and film actor, typically playing the muscled tough guy with a fast mouth.

Rollins has arguably made the greatest impression, though, as a hard-hitting spoken word artist, touring widely around the world. Unlike a conventional stand-up comedy routine, a spoken word performance is more free-form. In Rollins’s case, he mixes anecdotes from his personal life with opinions on everything from pop culture to politics. Content can vary between the hilarious, touching, thought-provoking and inspiring.

For the past 15 years or so, Henry Rollins has built up a reputation as one of the world’s smartest and most insightful spoken word performers, with a passionate, ever-growing fan base. The man has toured South Africa before – speaking his anti-authoritarian mind in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria – but this month he comes to Durban for the very first time, as part of his latest world tour.

Having already performed in 10 countries and on 3 continents since the beginning of 2012, Rollins brings his one-man show The Long March to the East Coast for one night only, on Saturday, 19 May at Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World.

In The Long March, Rollins shares stories about the more unusual places he’s visited during his globe-trotting quest for a deeper understanding of humanity. The tour is a perfect companion to the entertainer’s latest book, Occupants, which collects photographs and commentary on the most misunderstood and misrepresented countries he’s travelled through. Including South Africa.

With his brutal honesty and unapologetic abrasiveness, Rollins probably won’t be to everyone’s taste. The Long March has a No Under 16 age restriction. This said, open-minded adults in the audience should enjoy a roller-coaster evening of social consciousness and comedy. As Rollins channels his outrage into making the world a better place, you’ll be challenged to alter your perceptions… while having a good laugh at the absurdities of our global society.

Tickets for The Long March are R278, and they’re available through Computicket.


Henry Rollins is known for pushing limits, particularly in terms of physically challenging himself, and after his Durban show, I can concur. The man has AMAZING stamina! More so than the audience it must be said. Rollins simply walked out onto the stage, picked up his microphone and promptly began talking solidly... for over 2 and a half hours. No intermission. No pause even for a sip of water.

I admit that before the show I was worried it was going to be a relentlessly foul-mouthed angry man rant – as some of Rollins’s recorded spoken word performances have veered towards in the past. I was pleasantly surprised, however. Some social commentators radiate arrogance *cough cough... Gareth Cliff... cough* but Rollins doesn’t put himself on a pedestal, smugly dishing out opinions on everything below him. The Long March is full of comical, self-deprecating admissions about Rollins’s own insecurities and failings, which make the man’s views instantly more palatable.

Rollins also demonstrates an impressive vocabulary – when last did you hear the Sword of Damocles mentioned during a one-man show? – and his grasp of description is so vivid it’ll have you squirming in your seat when one of his gross-out tales pops up.

For the record, these were some of the topics Rollins talked about in Durban:

  • Obama endorsing gay marriage.
  • Conservative American politicians and their “War on the Vag”.
  • Touring Australia and dealing with hecklers.
  • Turning 50.
  • Eye-opening and priority-altering experiences during his Black Flag days.
  • Being a “work slut” and filming the Nat Geo Wild series Animal Underworld.
  • His experiences visiting Vietnam, Pakistan and North Korea.

There were also a good few jokes made about the rather odd venue. I’m not familiar enough with the layout of Suncoast to state how long it’s been there, but The Long March took place in a black draped marquee (hastily?) erected to the side of the casino entrance. The sound was good, and the stage was well lit despite the surrounding gloom so I have no complaints about that side of the set-up. This said, the audience’s seats were nothing more than plastic chairs, and they were agony on my butt cheeks and lower back. Just as bad, the venue doors slammed distractingly and annoyingly every time someone left to go to the bathroom.

So yeah, a really enjoyable show from Henry Rollins and I’m happy to report that Durbanites did actually come out to show their support. Next time though, a proper theatre venue with proper seating would be preferred.


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