Rock ‘n’ Roll excess: Exploring the unusual link between Mexborough band Saxon and Spinal Tap

From l to r:- John Beal, chair of the Cosy Cinema, Graham Oliver, Chris Chapman and Paul Dyson.
From l to r:- John Beal, chair of the Cosy Cinema, Graham Oliver, Chris Chapman and Paul Dyson.
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A pub cranked up the volume to 11 for a special night to celebrate the local link between fictional rock band Spinal Tap and Mexborough’s very own rockers Saxon.

The Cosy Cinema, based at the Concertina Club in Mexborough, hosted a showing of the hit 1984 mockumentary ‘This is Spinal Tap’ before a crowd of around 80 film fans.

Harry Shearer, left, Christopher Guest, centre, and Michael McKean as Spinal Tap

Harry Shearer, left, Christopher Guest, centre, and Michael McKean as Spinal Tap

The event was hosted by Graham Oliver, 63, guitarist in real life rock band Saxon, who was on hand to tell all about his life as a musician and to ‘spill the beans’ on how the inspiration for the film came about.

Graham told how the film’s star and writer Harry Shearer spent a week on tour with Saxon in 1982 and decided to base the film’s exaggerated story on the antics of the band.

Presented in a ‘fly on the wall’ style format, the movie follows the highs and lows of Spinal Tap on a tour of America, including one legendary scene where a band member insists his amp is louder because it goes up to 11 instead of the usual 10.

Harry, who played bassist Derek Smalls, also sent a message through social media to the event organisers Right Up Our Street before the event last Thursday, telling them to “turn it up!”

Graham, who tours with bassist Steve Dawson as Oliver/Dawson Saxon, also gave an insight into his time in Saxon during the early 1980s in which they scored five top 20 albums in the UK.

He said: “It was great to share all of those memories. Harry was a great guy to have around, he saw all the meetings with record company execs and the rest of it so he had plenty of sources for inspiration.”

Audience member Chris Holden, 34, of Marvell Way, Wath-upon-Dearne, said: “It’s been a great night. We’ve really enjoyed it – a great atmosphere.

“The quality of the picture and the sound were spot on, you couldn’t want anymore – I’d come again.”

Musician Mike O’Brien, 54, of Celandine Rise in Swinton, said: “When you have a community event like this, with people that you know, celebrating somebody that you know, it’s a great thing.”

Stephen Hamilton, 64, of Adwick Road, Mexborough, added that he “loved listening to Graham’s insight into the world of heavy metal mayhem and the comedy of errors encountered along the way.”