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...
Tune in, turn on, whip your air guitar out. Sacha Gervasi’s show-all doc rocks you like a hurricane, hammering Tap-tested giggle-notes but rooting them in time-tarnished truth. Result? A touching, gripping tale of friendship and forever-young fantasy in failure’s frontline.
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