Spinal Tap Unwigged & Unplugged

29 April 2009

Paramount Theatre, Denver, CO


The artists behind Spinal Tap offer more talent than their mockumentary personas reveal. For this and other reasons, including expense and follicular discomfort, Micheal McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer decided to drop the usual stage props, wigs, and electrified instrumentation, for the so-called Unwigged & Unplugged tour of America, a precursur of their upcoming One Night Only World Tour in June of this year.

A few minutes after 8 P.M., an announcer stated, "For tonight's show, the part of Christopher Guest will be performed by Micheal McKean, and the part of Micheal McKean will be performed by Harry Shearer".

Amidst virtually no backdrop, the three principles walked out to a standing ovation, and an a-capella "Celtic Blues", followed by an almost all-acoustic "Hell Hole".

In between performances, Michael, Christopher, and Harry would try to occasionally introduce videos, amidst some completely unplanned, unintentional technical problems. One clip was from their 1979 performance from The TV Show of "Rock N' Roll Nightmare". Other videos were a few found on the internet, of artists unrelated to Spinal Tap making their own films, of songs such as "Hell Hole" and the title track from their upcoming album Back From The Dead.

The Tap nicely featured several tracks from their 1992 CD Break Like The Wind, including "All The Way Home", "Rainy Day Sun", "The Majesty Of Rock" "Bitch School" and "Clam Caravan", which Guest described as having a title that changed over the years, to and from "Calm Caravan".

Folksmen-era entries in tonight's show included "Old Joe's Place", "Never Did No Wanderin'", and "Loco Man". McKean, Guest, and Shearer noted that though many folk songs are about mine disaters or train wrecks, "Blood On The Coal" is about both. They introduced "Start Me Up" as penned by "Richards/Jagger".

Previously unreleased songs performed tonight included a song about wine made from corn called "Corn Wine", and a tune inspired by the King of Rock N' Roll about constipation, called "All Backed Up".

Classics included "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight", "Cups And Cakes", and "Stonehenge", the latter featuring a low-budget video backdrop of a 1/200th scale monument and dwarf puppets.

The show included an interestingly audience participation interlude, a question-and-answer session!

McKean's wife Annette O'Toole joined for "The Good Book Song" and "Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow".

A Denver-area professional dancer joined for a swing version of "Big Bottom" featuring only Shearer on bass. A funky rap version of "Sex Farm" ended the mostly-acoustic set.

An first encore of "Listen To The Flower People" and "Gimme Some Money" (featuring Guest on wah-wah acoustic guitar), and a second encore of "Celtic Blues (Reprise)", brought up the lights.

A new album on 16 June, featuring "Jazz Oddyssey 1", "Jazz Oddyssey 2", and the eco-friendly "Warmer Than Hell".....Their legacy remains hewn in to the living rock.....

[****1/2] - Steven T.

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