As sure as the cover of Smell The Glove is black, ex-metalhead Sacha Gervasi’s account of the band Anvil is iron-on proof that This Is Spinal Tap wasn’t a wholly fanciful account of metal’s casualties.
To call it merely Tap-but-true is reductive, though. Gervasi’s account isn’t simply comic: it’s an affecting study of young dreams buffeted by middle age...
Formed by lifelong Canadian friends Steve “Lips” Kudlow (vocals/ guitar) and – oh the irony – Robb Reiner (drums), Anvil courted Kerrang!-cover glory in the early ’80s.
Metallica’s Lars Ulrich and Guns N’ Roses’ Slash appear on screen to say as much. Festival footage shows Lips in S&M gear, playing guitar with a dildo like some idiot-savant satirist of Jimmy Page’s violin-bow trick.
Success eluded him, oddly enough. But 35 years on, with families and day- jobs to maintain, Lips and Reiner are still rocking...
You wonder if they’re heroes or fools. But Gervasi isn’t taking the piss. We watch Anvil on a Euro tour that makes Tap’s US
tragi-tour look like a stadium stint, woefully mismanaged gigs prompting punch-ups with promoters who offer to pay the
band in goulash.
What emerges is a comedy of errors, sure, but it’s also a warts-and-all study of rock-rooted tenacity.
In particular, Lips’ fight to keep band and soul strong plays like some kind of psychodrama of optimism against reality.
“At least there was a tour for everything to go wrong on,” he philosophises. There’s poignancy in his gob-smacking perseverance and empathy in Gervasi’s eye: you warm to the band and their dogged underdogs’ devotion to metal’s call.
Granted, you’ll titter at their ill-starred stab at a comeback album, too. But after the rousing twist, don’t be surprised if you find your hair has sprouted extra inches in sympathy...