Almost a decade on from their infamous North American tour, Spinal Tap are back at the top of their game playing a sellout gig to London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The Return of Spinal Tap further blurs the line between documentary and spoof, taking the form of a real gig by the satirical band
Considerable lengths have been gone to to make this more than just a concert movie, however, as we get snippets of the band’s life outside showbiz; particular highlights including Nigel’s inventing workshop and Derek’s father’s phone-sanitising business.
We also get to catch up with some of our favourites from the last movie, including down-and-out director Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner), who works from his office in a hallway, and promoter Artie Fufkin (Paul Shaffer) who’s emigrated to Australia following a sexual harassment case.
The band are awesome, from tight harmonies to diverse instrumentation. The staging is excellent, accompanied by Tap’s trademark mishaps along the way. It’s a testament to the quality of the original songs, presumably only intended as a 30 second joke, that they can now be played to crowds of adoring fans who know all the words. There are new songs too, which achieve the same blend of authentic rockery and total absurdity.
The film could have been filled with obvious and unnecessary callbacks to their first outing, like the awkward David Brent movie, but instead they try new ideas and the concert makes complete sense in the Tap universe, with the possible exception of the fact they’re able to fill the Royal Albert Hall in the first place.
This Is Spinal Tap was a hard act to follow, but The Return of Spinal Tap manages to create a wholly new beast which gives fans what they want without seeking to imitate the original.