We have a lot to be grateful to the Japanese for. They seem to be particularly fond of music that nobody else likes much. They liked Canadian heavy metal group Anvil back in 1982, and some fans travelled to Sölvesborg 25 years later to see Anvil again. This tiny Swedish town looked a lot more welcoming than many of the other venues on a rather disastrous European tour the band made recently, to see if success could be theirs after all these years.
Lovely as she was, I think they should have picked a more capable tour manager than Tiziana. She loves them, but she’s no planner. The two young men present at the Cornerhouse preview will have to forgive my outburst of the giggles on finding Anvil stranded in a small town, near and relatively dear to the witch, on the Swedish west coast. Tiziana was busy shouting L-A-H-O-L-M down the phone, while the band got nowhere. It wasn’t the best coast for them. Neither was Prague or Transylvania. They miss trains, and they don’t get paid.
But singer Lips manages to be sweet about it all, and even at the end of the film he’s philosophical about what matters most in life, and what makes him happy. To go from being one of the big groups of heavy metal in the early eighties to driving bananas to Toronto schools in the snow, and still be happy, takes a big man.
Drummer Robb could always fall back on selling his paintings, if all else fails. Very Hopper-esque streetscapes, totally to my taste in art. I’ll have one, if he’s selling, as long as it’s not the WC one, which even for a toilet-art-loving witch was one step too far.
I have to be honest. Heavy metal is not for me. I’m a decade out, and feel the eighties are a time best forgotten, especially for music. Though I wish we’d known about Anvil when Son was given this very period for his GCSE music coursework. I never thought we could struggle so much to find 1980s style music. But looking at the fifty-somethings Lips and Robb, with their long hair and wrist chains (and what’s with the bandannas?), I see they are the same boys as my beloved Dr Hook ten years earlier. It’s just that their music is not for me. Not yet, anyway.
The Story of Anvil is very, very inspirational. After the tour to hell (and Sölvesborg), they get in touch with their old record producer in England, manage to find the money for a new album, and record it, amidst plenty of falling out. Then comes the selling of album thirteen, which is not easy. And then it’s time for the Japanese again.
OK, I cried. First with mirth over Laholm, and then over Japan. And a little over the fairly grey cliffs of Dover.
(Special preview at Cornerhouse Thursday 12th February. Then from 20th February.)