Spinal Tap: Unwigged and Unplugged

Spinal Tap: Unwigged and Unplugged
April 23: The Grove, Anaheim
April 24: The Wiltern, LA

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Twenty five years after their iconic spoof set the standard for rockumentaries AND mockumentaries, the trio known as Spinal Tap is making the circuit in a less hirsute and less bombastic manner.  They will open for themselves, as The Folksmen, pulling songs from A Mighty Wind, another superb mockumentary.

But most fans will be there to see how well Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls run through their heavy metal repertoire sans spandex and amplifiers tuned to 11. It is always hard to tell where the spoof ends, but folks in London can apparently look forward to an early June gig at Wembley, where Spinal Tap will perform their 'One Night Only World Tour.'  Undoubtedly, the high point at the British show will be the inevitable homage to nearby Stonehenge.

By leaving the electric instruments at home on the Stateside portion of the tour, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer will rely more on the songs and the interplay for which they have become famous.  The trio has worked together in various incarnations over the last three decades. Guest and McKean first met in college, beginning their co-songwriting efforts.  As for McKean and Shearer, they have known each other since 1970 when they were both members of satirical group The Credibility Gap on radio, stage and records. As to the trio’s longevity, they sum it up:  “The three of us make each other laugh and that’s why we continue to do this. Why work with somebody who is going to bore you to death? If you have a choice about things like that, no one’s going to choose the guy that puts you to sleep. “

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Given the acoustic nature of the current tour, the band will not have to worry about their perennial problem of disappearing drummers. (One drummer who ostensibly auditioned for Spinal Tap and lived to tell about it is on tour himself – Mick Fleetwood). For the SoCal gigs, look for T-Bone Burnett in the audience or onstage; he produced Spinal Tap’s 1992 reunion album Break Like the Wind as well as the acclaimed A Mighty Wind. Burnett was jovial when we chatted at The Getty several years ago after a one-off celebration of A Mighty Wind.  Other possible guests include Slash and Jeff Beck (he is gigging in SoCal about the same time, guested on “Break Like The Wind” and is the role model for Nigel Tufnel).

As long as the band can find their way to the stage, a few new numbers are also likely to find their way into the tour’s setlist; rumo[u]rs of a new album are riffing through the internet.


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment and technology scene for many years. He has written for Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and once upon a time won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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