Thirty years on, Spinal Tap is the joke that never gets old. The metal mockers made their inauspicious debut on an ABC program called The TV Show in 1978. That led to the 1984 mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, a film that’s led to countless imitations.
Reunions haven’t been out of the question over the course of the past three decades, and Tap’s three original members (Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer) appeared last night at the Ohio Theatre just to prove they’re still funny after all these years.
Calling the show “Unwigged and Unplugged,” they revisited many of the best-known Spinal Tap tunes, including “Stonehenge,” “Bitch School” and “Hell Hole.” But the unplugged format also let them perform “Corn Wine,” “Old Joe’s Place” and “Loco Man,” all of which are by the Folksmen, the fictitious group the actors portrayed in the 2003 movie A Mighty Wind.
A much different beast than Spinal Tap, “Unwigged and Unplugged” allowed the guys to include music from their entire repertoire (including tunes by the Thamesmen, the fake classic-rock act that preceded Spinal Tap). Stripped-down versions of Tap tunes such as “Big Bottom” and “The Majesty of Rock” sounded fine without all the heavy-metal bombast.
The guys took a break mid-show for a funny Q&A session, during which they addressed inquiries about their influences. The two-hour show concluded with two encores and a finale that found the guys turning the volume up as loud as it could go (all the way up to 11!) for Tap's “Heavy Duty.” —Jeff Niesel