Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bald and Blacked Out

Last night my friend Christina and I (click here for her take on the evening) had a fabulous time at the Spinal Tap 25th Anniversary Tour concert at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, subtitled "Unwigged and Unplugged". (Interested parties may want to click over to the Myspace tour page where they can see a thirteen-minute Youtube video of concert footage. Edited to add: oh duh, or I could embed it!

I am here to tell you that at least one of those adjectives is a lie; some of those instruments were plugged in

Actually the concert was a twofer; not only did Spinal Tap play, but they were joined by the world-famous Folksmen and their close-harmony folk stylings. It was an evening beyond compare. 

It was such fun to see Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer in person! We had seats very close to the front of the balcony so we had a good view, although we don't have any original photos - we got frisked on the way in and Christina had to go back to the car to ditch her camera. I was a good girl - I restrained my concert participation to lip-synching and sway/bob/toetapping. I did sing aloud along with "Old Joe's Place" but that is because they gave us permission

The concert opened with a medley of "Celtic Blues" (new to me) and "Hellhole", followed by songs such as "Never Did No Wandering", "Corn Wine", and "A Mighty Wind". They were always careful to attribute the various songs to their proper composers (Nigel Tufnel, Alan Barrows, David St. Hubbins, whoever) and shifted "attitudes" from group to group, as well as breaking character to themselves. At one point they got great laughs from a deadpan reading of NBC's 1984 Standards and Practices notes on what would have to be cut from the movie This Is Spinal Tap in order to broadcast it on late-nite TV ("Forty-seven minutes thirty seconds - Lyrics to the song "Sex Farm": Unacceptable.") There was also the inexplicable Cheese Rolling interlude...

High points were Spinal Tap's famous "Stonehenge" number (one guy on the ground floor kept screaming "Stonehenge!" at each break between songs; Michael McKean finally told him, "Why don't you just come back when we do Stonehenge; it'll be about an hour ten"), a jazz/blues arrangement of "Big Bottom", the extra verse in "The Good Book Song" - it involved Moses - and the moment Annette O'Toole came out to perform "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" with her husband. (McKean, if you didn't know. I didn't.) We also got the privilege of downloading a free single: "Saucy Jack", from Spinal Tap's unfinished musical about Jack the Ripper. 

Now, anybody who knows me knows of my devotion to musical humor; I know all the words to more than a few parody songs of which I barely know the titles of the originals, and that due only to Weird Al's liner notes. But I am not indiscriminate in my love. I love the guys who build their scaffolding of humor on the firm foundation of skill and musicianship and these men, whatever they call themselves, have done that. 

Now I have to go re-watch  This Is Spinal Tap. And Waiting for Guffman, and for sure A Mighty Wind. While I'm at it, I'd better drag Best in Show off the shelf - yeah, the only music is the Norwich terrier song, but while I'm revisiting Guest's oeuvre, I might as well go all the way...

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