Good news, fake band and mockumentary fans: This Is Spinal Tap turns 35 next year, and its titular band is reuniting for an anniversary screening. The one-time event will take place at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival next spring.
The 1984 “rockumentary,” directed by Rob Reiner, followed an aging British Invasion band called Spinal Tap as they toured into their own cultural irrelevance. Band members Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins, and Derek Smalls, played by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer, respectively, gave us a few classic scenes, such as when the band discovers its Stonehenge replica isn’t 18-feet tall, as requested, but 18 inches, that is lowered onto the stage in an epic fail.
When Tufnel insists that his guitar amplifier “goes up to 11, it’s one louder,” the line became part of popular culture, even making it into a version of the Oxford English dictionary.
Next year, it will be the comedians, and not their characters, playing an homage to the band. Guest, McKean, and Shearer have also performed as The Folksmen, from the 2003 folk music mockumentary A Mighty Wind.
This Is Spinal Tap is a pitch-perfect satire of the music industry, from the group getting lost backstage in Cleveland to their unhappy history of exploding drummers. Many people – including me – who saw contemporary performances of Christmas With the Devil thought Spinal Tap was a real band.
That song, looking at Christmas “from Satan’s point of view,” includes the deathless lyrics “There’s someone up the chimney hole and Satan is his name.”
Certainly, dumber music has been made by more serious musicians.
Shearer, in character as Smalls, was asked about a possible Spinal Tap reunion last year.
“They say never don’t say never ever or they say never say never again,” he responded.
Smalls released a solo album earlier this year, Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing), which features some very accomplished real life guest stars, from prog rock keyboardist Richard Wakeman to folk guitar hero Richard Thompson.
“Spinal Tap proves there is definitely a fine line between stupid and clever,” Reiner said in a statement.
The group will perform after the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival screening, and then be joined by Reiner for a conversation. If things go well, perhaps we can look forward to another Spinal Tap reunion tour like the one in 2009.