It's hard to believe that the same Henry Rollins who declared that "sensitivity is for pussies" has spent the last few years as a solo performer detailing a set of neuroses thicker than his own neck, fussing about turning 40 and finding the right girl to settle down with. Maybe people are finally getting hip to the idea of Rollins as a monologuist a decade after he published his unhinged travelogue, Get in the Van, about his misspent youth in the punk band Black Flag. Or maybe he's stopped dicking around with his public image long enough to apply himself to the one thing he actually excels at: pulling the spoken-word genre out of deep freeze with an appealing mix of prickly social criticism and light observational humor. Rollins develops most of his material on the fly but definitely likes to revisit themes, so expect some midlife rants and true tales culled from his experiences as a rock musician in his new Shock and Awe My Ass. But early reports on his monthlong tour suggest that he's also back in bully pulpit mode, describing George W. Bush as "an expensive habit" and dropping bombs on America's foreign policy. It might be best to listen: even with that salt-and-pepper hair, the dude still looks like he could kill you with his pinkie. Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 312-923-2000. Friday, February 20, 7:30 PM. $25.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Alison Dyer.