review: Jarith Hughes // photos: Lucas Packett @lucas_packett_photography
“Laughter isn’t usually a response a band would want from their epic performance. But tonight it’s in abundance and it’s magnificent.”
How often is it that one of your favourite bands and films of all time collide in a night extravagant Rock’n’Roll glory? For me the answer was never. That was until Australian Rock legends You Am I decided it was time somebody took on the task of performing a tribute dedicated to the world’s greatest “Rockumentary” Spinal Tap.
Accompanying me to the show is none other than the man who introduced me to You Am I, Spinal Tap and opened my eyes to the world of Rock’n’Roll, my Dad. We share a few pints out in the main bar of The Corner Hotel before entering into the band room. Upon entry a massive inflatable clown head takes up one corner of the room. Next to him, a DJ is spinning vinyl. Retro gothic silent films play on the screens and ACDC’s Back in Black screams through the system.
The stage, awash with blue light and smoke is adorned with three Marshall double stack guitar amplifiers and the drum kit in classic 80’s fashion features double kick drums, one hundred toms and infinite cymbals; and yes of course... a gong!
A full audience erupts in laughter and applause as the song “Key of D minor (the saddest of all keys)” is played on the keyboard as the members of You Am I enter the stage. A four-tap brings the band into their opening song “Tonight We’re Gonna Rock It’. Frilly shirts, eyeliner, tight pants, boots and even a kilt clothe the band as they aim to keep their tribute to Spinal Tap as pure as possible. I’m blown away that the entire audience is singing every word. Instantly I’m reminded that Spinal Tap is a cult classic film, one that is so nuanced with witt and musician humour. I’ve watched and rewatched it at least 20 times and still get so much kick out it. I’m not alone. Lead singer Tim Rogers addresses the crowd as “The Richmond Chapter of the Spinal Tap Fan Club”.
In a blaze of guitar solos, finger tapping, double kicks and expertly poised rock poses, You Am I drive through the chronicle narrative of Spinal Tap’s timeline, performing tunes from their early days as The Thamesmen with “Gimme Some Money” and debuting Tap’s early songs like “Cups and Cakes” and “Listen To The Flower People”.
As the decades push on, the sounds become heavier and bountiful with Rock’n’Roll wisdom and glory. Tim Rogers swigs from his bottle of white wine while he carries the banter between songs with rich quotes and jokes from the film. Laughter isn’t usually a response a band would want from their epic performance. But tonight it’s in abundance and it’s magnificent.
The night reaches its climax as the band perform the epic masterpiece “Stonehenge”, during which an 18” styrofoam monument is slowly lowered from the ceiling. The crowd bursts into hysterics and applause and the song closes with a mandolin solo. The band make sure not to miss any hits, performing all the classics “Majesty of Rock”, “Heavy Duty”, “Sex Farm” and the crowd favourite “Big Bottoms”. You Am I bring the night to a close as they return to perform their encore (just like the film) with “Tonight We’re Gonna Rock It”.
We stagger out of The Corner Hotel with massive smiles across our faces. You Am I did a spectacular job of honouring and maintaining Spinal Tap’s integrity, with both humour and face melting guitar solos.