Belfast Telegraph

New musical panned and his country in a financial mess... Bono faces taxing times

By Elaine Loughlin

It has been a bad week for Bono.

The pop superstar and anti-poverty campaigner is used to playing to arenas full of screaming and adoring fans.

But his new Spider-Man musical has become tangled in a web of bad reviews and audience complaints.

As the most expensive Broadway show ever staged, with dazzling technical displays, a massive cast and a musical score written by Bono and The Edge, it promised to be one of the most entertaining events of the year.

But when Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark finally opened in New York on Sunday it began almost half-an-hour late, had to be stopped five times, and received catcalls from members of the audience.

Spider-Man Reeve Carney was left dangling 10ft above the audience after a stunt where he was supposed to glide across the theatre went wrong. The first act was then abruptly ended as crew grappled to free the main character.

Wires dangled from the ceiling, stage scenery appeared incomplete and audience members became so bored and frustrated during the extended intermission that they began clapping to encourage a restart.

New York Post critic Michael Riedel called the show an “epic flop”.

“Stunned audience members were left scratching their heads over the confusing plot — when they weren't ducking for cover from falling equipment and dangling actors,” he wrote.

Bono and The Edge agreed to write the score for the $65m (£41.7m) musical, which was inspired by the Marvel comic books, almost nine years ago and since then the production has been marred by setbacks.

The U2 singer admitted that putting the show together had not gone as smoothly as he had hoped.

He said that bringing the show to the stage was “easier than we ever could have imagined, harder than we ever thought”.

“I mean easier in the sense that the music came to us effortlessly. Dreaming up the show, the scale of it, the flying sequence, the pop art opera that it is — that was all pure joy.

“What we didn't realise was how difficult it is to stage this stuff, both technically and financially,” he said.

Bono and his band members were not able to make it to the preview of the musical as they were busy preparing for the Australian leg of their world tour which kicks off in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Meanwhile on this side of the Atlantic the outspoken Irish rock star who shouts and spouts about Third World debt has been criticised for remaining quiet about the woes of his native land.

As Ireland’s debt-stricken government called on the International Monetary Fund and EU for a bailout, the U2 frontman lay low.

Irish Independent columnist Kevin Myers was critical of the singer.

“I imagine Bono has stayed silent on the Irish crisis because the solution of it was always going to involve the abolition of the artists tax-exemption, which has now happened. He will be paying 53% of his income in taxes, like the rest of us.

“Now we'll see how keen he is on giving government aid raised from taxpayers to developing countries — or will he simply flee to an easier tax-regime?” Mr Myers asked.

Bono and his bandmates did not pay any tax under the Irish government’s artists exemption.

But a €250,000 (£212,000) exemptions cap was placed on earnings in 2006 and U2 began moving their multi-million business empire out of Dublin to the Netherlands shortly after this.

The controversial move meant that the rockers avoided paying a tax bill which could have amounted to millions.

It seems the Irish public has now grown tired of the U2 frontman who owns a sprawling mansion in the exclusive Dublin suburb of Dalkey.

He came last in the RTE search to find Ireland’s Greatest after receiving a meagre 4,426 votes which amounted to 3% of the total cast. This was nowhere near the winner John Hume who managed to rack up 54,586 public votes.

The singer and campaigner will be hoping that his Spider-Man musical will be able to soar above the teething problems it experienced at the weekend.

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