A good comic book or graphic novel is a phenomenal work of art. It can be literary, subversive, disturbing, titillating, all while being potentially very accessible.
The idea of taking a great comic book and presenting it in real-time, such that the audience experiences the visual presentation freed from the confines of a small page – that’s an idea that CAN work. Usually this comes about as a movie adaptation.
Music, especially rock music, has a great ability to enhance emotion and communicate drama in extreme measures. A real-time presentation of a comic book or graphic novel cries out for an ambitious musical component.
Performance, true performance, happens on a stage and has always been 3-D. True performance places musicians and actors in the same physical space as the audience. True performance does not get to rely on computer editing, or special effects animation. True performance provides a more direct experience to the audience.
I believe that a project which combines all of these values is not impossible. I believe there are risks that ‘The Theater’ has expectations and baggage which will necessarily detract from and harm this project. Even without worrying about a schmaltzification, the project may literally collapse under the weight of it’s own ambitiousness.
And yet, I understand why it should be attempted.
Apple and Blackberry may be direct competitors in the world of mobile phones, and Bono’s image may be indellibly and permanently stamped onto every iPhone and iPod Touch, but do you think Blackberry cares about that? And U2 needs as much extra scratch as possible to help pay for all those nice folks helping to move The Claw all around the globe on this tour. If Steve Jobs is feeling bad that his former pitchmen are now selling Blackberry, well, that’s too damn bad. Because when you’re U2, you don’t sign a restrictive covenant or an agreement not to compete. Pretty good video too.
A new week begins and we can start by getting the new U2 record – “No Line On The Horizon” on Tuesday. Right away, it feels more vital and risky than the last two records, but nothing seems to have been compromised. All the elements of what they do well (and have done well for the past three decades) is present, but the sounds draw from all of their career, including Pop and Achtung Baby.
Somehow they push themselves to do something that is not easy, but they just don’t look like they’re trying that hard. John Pareles of the New York Times offered the nice observation that they strive for
an intimacy that strives to encompass the universe.
Standout songs are ‘Magnificint’, ‘Unknown Caller’, ‘Stand-up Comedy’ and ‘Breathe’.