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Loaded: Spider-man’s web of woes grows with bad reviews

Even those with a cursory knowledge of Spider-Man: The Musical will know that it has been beset by problems for years. There must have been moments when Bono and The Edge -- who are responsible for the music and lyrics -- wished they had never got involved.

And the bad times just keep on coming. This week, several newspapers have broken with Broadway convention and reviewed the previews. Few of them had good things to say, with the music taking quite a battering.

The New York Times -- whose reviewers often have the power to knock fledgling shows dead -- was especially critical. "The songs by Bono and The Edge are rarely allowed to take full, attention-capturing form. Mostly they blur into a sustained electronic twang of varying volume, increasing and decreasing in intensity, like a persistent headache." Ouch.

  • Copenhagen's Agnes Obel released one of the loveliest albums of 2010. The piano-led Philharmonics proved there is some life in the confessional singer-songwriter genre yet, and her cover of John Cale's Close Watch was especially arresting. Now she makes her Irish debut with a concert in the intimate surrounds of Dublin's Sugar Club on April 16. Tickets are now on sale and cost a reasonable €15.
  • Kudos to Harmonic for promoting the Agnes Obel show -- and several more announced in recent weeks. The smaller promoters face an incredibly tough time in an economic climate as wretched as this one and it's good to see them fighting the good fight.

Meanwhile, the Button Factory is under examinership at present. Here's a statement from the Temple Lane Management Ltd: "Examinership does not affect any gigs, club nights or promoters. It is business as usual. Examinership simply means we have a period of 90 days to make arrangements to safeguard the viability of the business and make the business stronger for the years to come."

Here's hoping they pull through.

  • James Yorkston is one of the better Scottish songsmiths of recent years and I had high hopes for his "touring diaries" memoir, It's Lovely to be Here -- the first book to be published by the esteemed Domino label. Yet, in his efforts to be as honest as possible about the quotidian life as a comparatively obscure troubadour, much of the book really is quite dull. The best music biogs tend to be about people who have lived life on the edge and this one is about as far from the groupies-and-drugs-type as it's possible to get. That said, aspiring songwriters dreaming of a glamorous future could read it for a sharp reality check.
  • REM fans keen to try their hand at remixing have been handed a gift in the form of new song It Happened Today. Culled from their forthcoming album, Collapse Into Now, the song is available as a multi-track file on remhq.com

Here's what Dublin producer Garret "Jacknife" Lee had to say about the project: "Right from the early stages of recording this song in New Orleans, Michael wanted to share the files with people to hear their different ideas and versions. So here they are. I have bounced some tracks together to make it easier to download and use. We ended up with over a hundred tracks with all the percussion, brass, three pianos, celeste, glockenspiels, vibraphone, eight acoustic guitars, two drum kits, bass synths, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, electric guitars, bass and all the voices. Enjoy, and be bold."

Day & Night