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SPINAL TAP / THE FOLKSMEN
Greek Theater; Hollywood, CA; 06/01/01

Reviewed by Keith Guillotine and R. Scott Bolton

It was the show we'd waited almost ten years for: The return of Spinal Tap.

The last Spinal Tap show we'd attended was at the Universal Amphitheater during the band's "Break Like the Wind" tour. It was one of the best times we'd ever had at a concert theater. Tap's brand of humor and satiric metal combined for a hilarious and utterly entertaining show.

So it was with a little puzzlement but still great satisfaction when we left the Greek Theater that evening after the Tap show asking ourselves this question: "When did Spinal Tap become a real band?"

Although their history, captured forever in the classic film, "This is Spinal Tap," was firmly behind them, the Spinal Tap we saw on stage on June 1st was a little different than the one in the film and the one we'd seen live before. Sure, it was funny - how can songs with lyrics like "I want to sink her with my pink torpedo" be anything but funny? But what was surprising and perhaps a little distracting was that Spinal Tap has improved over the past several years. The band's live performance was pretty damn good, even from a musicianship standpoint. 

What was missing were the hilarious "screw-ups" that made the original film and the previous tour so much fun. Even though the show was funny as hell (it was sponsored by an adult diaper company for crying out loud), you couldn't help but miss the embarrassing events that have made the band a standard rock'n'roll term. For example, during the last KISS show we caught in Anaheim, a bunch of things went wrong -  fireworks didn't go off, props didn't work, Ace Frehley played (sorry). Those were what we now call "Spinal Tap moments." 

Sadly, there were no real "Spinal Tap" moments during the recent Tap show. No pods didn't open, no guitars failed to work, no inflatable set pieces collapsed on the band. The only moment that came close was when the tiny little Stonehenge model refused to go back up into the rafters from whence it came. Strangely enough, it was a real problem, not one set up in advance by the band.

Despite the lack of problems, the Spinal Tap show was still a blast. It's always fun to watch Tap play live and to hear their classic songs performed before your eyes. The band played songs from the film, from the follow-up CD, "Break Like the Wind" through their most recent Internet-released hit, "Back From the Dead." And several incredible "real" musicians showed up on stage to help them: Dweezil Zappa (who shreds like no one), Ry Cooder and Stephen Collins from TV's "Seventh Heaven"(!?). 

Would I recommend you buy tickets if Spinal Tap comes your way? Absolutely!

Opening for Tap were The Folksmen, who were really the members of Tap (the real members: Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest) in baldcaps and golf clothes playing folk versions of songs like the Rolling Stone's "Start Me Up." This was easily the evening's humor highlight. Although The Folksmen only played four or five songs, the crowd was laughing hysterically and begging for more when the band was told to leave the stage. A band opening for themselves? A first in our years of experience and a very, very funny one.

Also in the audience that evening were "This Is Spinal Tap" director Rob Reiner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tim Curry, Annette O'Toole and Beck. Rumor had it that Johnny Depp and Meg Ryan were also seen lurking about.


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Copyright 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.