SPINAL TAP reunited for a 35th-anniversary screening of the film "This Is Spinal Tap" on Saturday (April 27) at New York's Beacon Theatre as part of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. The event saw the band — Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer — take part in a question-and-answer session with "This is Spinal Tap" director, co-writer and star Rob Reiner. McKean, Guest and Shearer then played an acoustic set, which consisted of tunes from the movie, including "Hell Hole", "Big Bottom", "Rainy Day Sun" and "Clam Caravan". A surprise guest, Elvis Costello, joined SPINAL TAP for "Gimme Some Money" before the band closed out with "Sex Farm".
Released in 1984, the mockumentary follows the fictional heavy metal rock band SPINAL TAP on tour.
"'Spinal Tap' proves there is definitely a fine line between stupid and clever," said Reiner.
"This Is Spinal Tap" was released to little fanfare in 1984 with some viewers convinced the bumbling dinosaurs — who had a knack of losing drummers in freak accidents — on screen were a genuine band. But word of mouth about the smartly observed film, which took a pop at bands such as STATUS QUO, LED ZEPPELIN and BLACK SABBATH, spread and it became a sleeper hit.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, McKean, Guest and Shearer prepared several scenes with Reiner but then ad-libbed. At the end of filming, they had more than 40 hours of footage, which was edited down to a more manageable form.
When "This Is Spinal Tap" was released, not everybody got that it was a "mockumentary." U2's The Edge immediately embraced it, saying: "I didn't laugh, I wept. It was so close to the truth." Ozzy Osbourne didn't understand it, saying the first time he watched it, he thought it was a real documentary. Early home video versions of the movie reportedly even had a disclaimer at the start and finish of the movie stating the band didn't really exist.