Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spinal Tap at The Avalon in Hollywood

Last night I saw Spinal Tap at the Avalon theater in Hollywood. They were playing a benefit show for the International Myeloma Foundation. McKean started the show with his wife, a marriage which was a big surprise to me: actress of stage and screen and co-writer of many of The Mighty Wind tunes: Annette O’Toole. McKean and O’Toole started the show with a small set from their stage act “No Standards” which was actually a trio group with O’Toole’s talented daughter Nell Geisslinger. The highlight was the hilarious celtic spoof “Killington Hill.”

Next Harry Shearer arrived to play bass for a few songs with his wife Judith Owen, a Welch singer-songwriter. Owen sang songs from her latest album “Happy This Way” including the funny take on Paris-Hilton-types in “Cool Life” and the amazing “Painting By Numbers.” Owen’s comedy schtick was laid on a little too thick. She was funny, yet annoying. But her voice was stridently soulful and her lyrics were amazing. I'll download some of her songs for sure.

McKean came back to play with Naomi Margolin who sang Lee Grayson’s signature song “Rainbow Connection.” Grayson was a mentor of McKean who died of Myeloma. McKean then enthusiastically introduced Van Dyke Parks for a short set with his band. In blue jean overalls, Parks impressed the music nerds in the audience who appreciated his legendary stauts. I was clueless about his piece of history but enjoyed the song “Orange Crate Art.”

Christopher Guest then arrived, the only Tap member of the evening sans wife (Jamie Lee Curtis). C.J. Vanston also joined on keyboards and Shearer came back for the full Tap show. It was fun. It was rockin and Guest played some mean guitar. It still doesn't go without saying: these guys can perform. They played Spinal Tap songs:

- Hellhole
Stonehenge (with Annette and daughter running about like elves)
Cups and Cakes
Gimme Some Money (which they dedicated to American Express)
Listen to the Flower People
and the first song David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel ever wrote together, All the Way Home

They sang Mighty Wind songs:

- Never Did No Wanderin'
Loco Man
Corn Wine
Blood on the Coal
Start Me Up (my absolute favorite so I was a thrilled peach!)

(and even three songs from The New Main Street Singers)

- Old Joe's Place
- and
Jane Lynch joined them on The Good Book Song and
Potato's in the Paddy Wagon

Christopher Guest seemed pouty and sullen most of the evening, sitting out two or three songs, and Harry Shearer was pretty quiet overall but funny when he accidentally dropped his guitar much in the character of Derek Smalls. Michael McKean who very happily and charmingly hosted most of the night’s show seemed to have the best time being on stage with his friends and family. I only wished David Lander as Squiggy could have been up there for old times. But he was probably goodwill ambassadoring for MS.

Note: photo from recent Newport Music Festival.

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