The members of You Am I hold such mutual affection for 1984’s This Is Spinal Tap that the film’s become like a shared language among them.
A mockumentary centred on the flagging British heavy metal band Spinal Tap, the film was directed by Rob Reiner and written by its stars, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer.
Comedy songs aren’t often meddled with outside of their original context, but You Am I sought to dignify Spinal Tap’s back catalogue with the live performance spectacle, The Majesty of Tap.
“For anybody who’s a musician, it’s just such a pivotal piece of filmmaking because it really does capture a lot of stuff that becomes very familiar if you do any amount of touring,” says drummer Rusty Hopkinson. “Interwoven amongst that are all these really great songs that show that all those guys were students of what they were doing. It’s very deep and there’s a lot to it, and the songs are great fun to play.”
The Majesty of Tap is presented as a tribute show to Spinal Tap, rather than a piece of theatre, in which the band members take on the roles of Nigel Tufnel (Guest), David St. Hubbins (McKean), Derek Smalls (Shearer) and drummer Mick Shrimpton (Ric Parnell).
“Not playing it for laughs is the way we do it, because in some ways that’s even funnier,” Hopkinson says. “It’s more just playing up the music aspect of it and that we’re like this tribute band that thinks that Spinal Tap are this great unjustly ignored band.”
A bit of extra production goes into The Majesty of Tap compared to a regular You Am I show, allowing the band members to indulge in ways they otherwise wouldn’t.
“I get to un-ironically say, ‘I want two China cymbals, a gong, a ten-piece drum-kit, eight crash cymbals’. It’s fun to do that and set it up and muck around with it,” says Hopkinson.
“There’s a lot more fog and pyro related stuff. We actually had a giant inflatable devil head made for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, but in true Spinal Tap fashion we can’t actually fit it in any venues apart from the one that we built it for. Our friend Matt from Even made us a Stonehenge that’s really beautiful and fits comfortably in a suitcase.”
The film’s main characters, Nigel, David and Derek, are imbecilic, deluded, politically incorrect and not especially self-aware. Hopkinson says he’s encountered plenty of similar characters on tour over the years.
“You do get people who think they’re kind of deep and then you speak to them for a little while and realise they’re not deep at all. When you do go on tour, you become this giant mollycoddled baby. You’ve got people doing stuff for you, which is really great.
“We’ve definitely toured with people who’ve probably fit the bill and they can be some of the best people you meet.”
Venue: Corner Hotel
Date: Thursday April 11