Tonight, for the third Friday running, I went to London's Prince Charles Cinema on Leicester Square for one of their "beer and pizza" screenings; this week's film was the subtle mockumentary classic 'This is Spinal Tap'
(I'd include the umlaut above the N, if my phone would let me.)
Spinal Tap, like Withnail and I, is infamous amongst the touring actor / musician scene. I'd heard most of the quotable lines long before I'd actually seen it. I can remember my long lost actor friend Richard Doubleday, who I haven't seen in ages, schooling me in how to look up at the flies in disdain as the tiny sign reading 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven' flew in at the end of the show of the same name ,which was my professional debut, in tribute to the Stonehenge sequence. It was unprofessional, but if we hadn't done it, it would have been an opportunity missed.
It's a strange film to see amongst an audience, as the dialogue's so subtle and overlapping, you could almost blink and miss the jokes. If you weren't in the company of a group of people who know it inside out, that is. It only took a few minutes to relax into the style of it before we were in stitches; a hackneyed way to put it, but no less true.
The banter and the on-the-road disasters that befall the band is / are alarmingly accurate. It's an affectionate portrayal of a touring rock group, taking in various Beatles, Stones, Kiss and Jeff Beck stylistic references along the way. It's a labour of love, with songs and arrangements that are spot on.
I did a gig on the same bill as Harry Shearer once. "So, you're the comedy?" he said, as we were introduced; no pressure there then. The most surreal moment was when I picked up his bass to move it on the stage; the same bass I'd seen him play at a Spinal Tap concert at Wembley Arena a few months before; I may be poor, but I've had some interesting experiences.