... Hello Wimbledon!
30.06.2009 - 30.06.2009 28 °C
London has seen the Majesty of Rock that is... Spinal Tap.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Mocumentary 'This is Spinal Tap', and the release of the new album 'Back from the dead', the lads kicked off their one night only world tour with a single show at Wembley Arena. There was a great array of classic heavy metal t-shirts on display. Tour shirts from the 70s & 80s featuring the usual suspects. I imagine middle aged men all over Britain had entered the secret code to the unlock the rock merchandise draw, removed the ADCD, Led Zeppelin or Metalica T-shirt from it's protective plastic sleeve and stretched it over the beer belly. This was not a night for half measures. An array of cardboard or inflatable guitars, fake Derek Smalls moustashes, long blonde wigs and a sea of black clothing prevailed. Looking around the crowd, It was a little like combining a Star Trek convention and a public funeral.
Tap were in good company with American folk legends 'The Folksmen' as the support act. This slick trio were note perfect, as you would expect. They had the audience cheering and clapping along to their self styled 'Eclectrified Folk". The stand out songs were their 1962 top 70 hit 'Old Joe's Place' and the sombre 'Blood on the coal' "Over the years we have noticed that about 50% of folk songs are about terrible tragedies" said Bassist Marta Shubb (until recently Mark) " The other 50% are about mediocre tragedies. Most involve either a coal mine disaster or a train wreck. I think this is the first song, however, to feature both". They took the audience on a rambling tour of hits including "Loco Man" and "Never did no wanderin'". The Folksmen - Jerry Palter, Alan Barrows and Marta Shubb -performed expertly with smooth vocal harmony and masterful guitar and mandolin playing. Displaying the musical savvy that has seen them become America's "most popular late addition to folk festivals within a day’s auto travel of their homes".
After a short interval, the house lights dropped and a roar went out accross the arena. We could hear the stage manager calling Tap to the stage but there was no sign of them. "Tap, Tap , Tap..." the crowd chanted, but still no sign of the band. A greenroom camera revealed David and Nigel playing Xbox, oblivious to the fact that it was showtime. The stage manager threw to a clip of "The Magesty of Rock" and shortly after the arena erupted up as Spinal Tap took to the stage. "Hello Wimbledon, we are Spinal Tap". They opened with the powerful "Tonight I'm gonna rock you tonight" and the crowd went crazy. What followed was a journey through the back catalogue of hits including "Gimme Some Money", "All the Way Home", "Cups and Cakes", "(Listen to the) Flower People" and a reworked, funk version of the classic hit "Sex Farm". It sounded sounded slick and the skull motif on the screen behind the band was now sporting an afro and 'Bootsy Collins' star shaped sunglasses. Could this be a preview of their new direction?
The crowd was on it's feet for the whole show and obediently thrust fists in the air as they called out the choruses of "Hell Hole" and "Heavy Duty". London was treated to the genius of David St Hubbins in the form of the completed work "Saucy Jack" the definitive musical exploration of the infamous East End serial killer, Jack 'the ripper'. The band also played more recent offerrings like "Warmer than Hell" and "Rock and Roll Nightmare" "Do you want to go back... right back to the very beginning"? asked David St Hubbins, the lights dimmed and Nigel stepped to the mic. "In the beginning.." a roar went up from the crowd as the band played the immortal 'Stonehenge" halfway though the song a huge inflatable replica of the monolith slowly rose on stage left. A little too slowly actually. As the two dwarves, dressed in medievil costume, arrived on stage, Nigel emplored them to 'Push it up... push it up" eventually it stood tall... Stonehenge. The dwarves did a kind of Morriss Dance around the statue until it toppled over, trapping them underneath. When the song was over the arena thundered with applause. Tap did 3 encores the last of which was "Big Bottom" and featured, among others, Frankie Poullain (the Darkness) & Andy Scott (Sweet) on bass. "Goodnight London, We love you" and it was over. Almost as soon as the World Tour had begun, it was over. Spinal Tap had again rocked the house and silenced those who would consign them to the 'Where are they now?" file.
History had been made, and history will show that anytime Spinal Tap sound the call to their fans, 5000 overweight, middle-aged man in poorly fitting shirts will answer. I should know... I was one of them.