Spider-Man [anti-climactic thoughts]

So, I saw Spider-Man on Broadway last week and it only took me 9 days to write about it. (Sorry about the delay. And yes, this will be anticlimactic.)

My first thought when I left the theater was: “I enjoyed that.” And I did. I did. If you enjoy watching men in Spider-Man tights fly around above your head, you will enjoy this, too. I promise!

Several days removed from having seen the show, however, my lasting feeling about it is … nothing. I mean, really, nothing. This show did not leave me with any real emotional impact. It didn’t leave my heart full. Or bruised. Or touched. At all. The story didn’t move me. The music didn’t wow me. “Eff yeah those dudes are FLYING!” is about as excited as I got. (Sidenote: I don’t take lightly the risks taken by the people on stage and behind it to make this aerial stuff happen. Bless you, Spidey people.)

Of course, this was JUST A PREVIEW. It could all become perfect by February when the show officially opens. And I really do hesitate to critique it too much because A) that’s been done and done already and B) I really do think it’s a work in progress that will only get better.

But anyway…

Costumes, sets designs, choreography: all amazing.

The book, the story, well I expected it to be awful. “Irredeemable” and “a mess” were two descriptions of the story I had read going into it. The ending did not satisfy me and the beginning bored me, but overall, the story was not as bad as I feared. (And it’s a work in progress, don’t we know!)

The music? I am happy to hear that Bono and Edge are at every preview this month in order to assist with the show. They should be. There is a wide range of songs in the show and some of them seem to work better than others.

Example (see 5:30 – 6:00 in this 60 Minutes Spider-man clip). That sounds like it has potential coming out of Bono’s mouth. But on stage, like about half of the songs in the show during the performance I attended, it just came across as dull.

The Boy Falls From The Sky should be a highlight of the show. This song is obviously very U2-ish but thematically it is also very Spider-Man-ish and lyrically and musically it brings the show to its climax. But it didn’t come across with the power it has inside of it during the show I saw. Can Spider-Man sing this like Bono can? If not, whose fault is that?

Other thoughts:

The show I saw was a matinee on a Wednesday (December 29) and the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man was being played by understudy Matthew James Thomas. The role of Arachne was being played by T.V. Carpio. Her voice suited the songs written by Bono and Edge the best among all the cast, in my opinion.

Our original seats were front row balcony. These seats do not exist anymore as they are in the “flying zone” and we were upgraded down stairs to an orchestra seat six rows from the stage. This was great.

We were on the left side of the theater, and were very close to Zane Carney (guitarist) and Aiden Moore (bass player) who are visible on one side of the stage throughout the show. The rest of the band/orchestra is off stage. Zane Carney plays a Gibson Explorer for many of the songs. This is a Broadway show and not a rock show—but still, I kept wishing his guitar was more prominent in the mix during many of the songs.

I am not interested in a U2 Spider-Man record. These are songs by Bono and Edge. These are songs written specifically for this show. Why should Larry and Adam record songs like this as sidemen? (The Boy Falls From The Sky is a U2 song and is credited as such on the program. You are allowed to record this one if you want, U2. Heh)

Rise Above is one song in this show that comes across powerfully as a Broadway piece of music. Power ballad with motivational greeting card type lyrics.

There is one song where the lyric repeated over and over is “You set yourself on fire.” There is another lyric that goes something like “there is no time for sorrow when there is no such thing as time”. Another song uses Bono’s “vision over visibility” phrase. Yes, I laughed at these lyrics once or twice.

There are some musical interludes and scenes with some chanting lyrics underneath “villainous” music that are all pretty interesting. Dark, metallic. There’s one called Sinistereo with a frantic, industrial feel that is left of center.

Oh. Did I mention: The flying stuff is COOL.


4 thoughts on “Spider-Man [anti-climactic thoughts]

  1. I’m just kind of ambivalent about this whole Spiderman thing. Being the completist U2 nerd that I am, however, I will buy the inevitable cast recording.

    I hope they can fix the big problems I keep hearing about (i.e., the second act). While I’m ambivalent, I want it to do well and be at least better received than the previews have been, because I like Bono and Edge, and I want them to do well.

    … I’m so lame.

  2. Good review! I hope it works out for them but I’ve a bad feeling about it. Worrying that the music is lacking in something (another U2 fan I know who went to a preview said the same) but writing for the stage and for a rock band is a very different thing. If it fails I hope it doesn’t rub off on U2. I think Adam and Larry are right not wanting a U2/Spidey album released.

  3. Yes that Onion story is hysterical. As far as the “hiring Bono and Edge” thing, they have been on board before the show was even happening, so I don’t think there was ever a question they would be the songwriters if they wanted to be. They are also a major selling point of the show – it’s not built around superstar leads, it’s a “Bono/Edge” score. I found a lot of the songs dull, but when it opens for real, that may not be the case, and either way it may not matter, because the spectacle of the show is so entertaining.

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