Sunday, November 22, 2009

Harry Shearer: Pushing It Up to 11

WRIR's benefit at the Byrd Theater featuring Harry Shearer and showing the classic 1984 film, This is Spinal Tap, had something for everyone: fans of the Simpsons, fans of Saturday Night Live and, as evidenced by the age of some in the crowd, fans of hair bands and especially Spinal Tap. And like any special event at the Byrd, it began with Lin Lundy playing the mighty Wurlitzer.

When Shearer took the stage, his first comment was, "I actually thought I might rise from the floor and play my organ, but they said that was already taken care of." It was a line that couldn't have been scripted and couldn't have been more appropriate for his Spinal Tap character, bassist Derek Smalls (he of the strategically placed foil-wrapped cucumber in the movie).

Shearer went on to share his opinions of the corporatization of radio ("absolute and devastating"), media monopolies ("Even if C. Montgomery Burns can live forever, Rupert Murdoch can't.") and the recording industry ("A record exec couldn't recognize artistic rights if it crawled up his backside and bit him in the pancreas."). Perhaps most tellingly, he said that he makes fun of this stuff because he is so serious about it.

As for Spinal Tap, Shearer claimed it was the first non-porn movie to make money on VHS. Oasis singer Liam Gallagher supposedly walked out of a screening of the movie because it was too real, a comment Shearer says the creators have heard countless times. He also clarified that there will never be a Spinal Tap sequel and that the Simpsons will never leave the air.

By that point, the WRIR-loving audience was eager to get to the 25th anniversary screening of the rockumentary that gave us the concept of pushing it to eleven. Or, as Shearer encouraged the enthusiastic crowd as he introduced the film, "Rock on!"

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