City Paper is not for tourists
Tuesday night, I had the privilege of attending Musselman’s Apple Sauce Presents: The Music of Seal on Ice. I had been anticipating the event for weeks–ever since I first set my eyes on the event’s glorious promotional shot, pictured at right.
Damn you, mastermind photoshop artists: You have fooled me once again with your impressive fonts and your smirking representations of Seal. Sure, Seal–a towering vision in white–finessed the mic. Yeah, people skated or whatever. But the whole thing came off as a little bit half-assed, less a true marriage of Seal and Ice than a hastily-assembled feature for television that didn’t require any pesky unionized writers (check out the broadcast on New Years Day, NBC, 4-6 p.m. EST). When a skater’s bottom grazed the ice or Seal led the audience in a markedly off-rhythm clap, you could almost hear the event promoters sighing, “Meh. We’ll fix it in editing.”
Moments of synergy–at one point, a skater sailed over to Seal’s stage, where the two exchanged a sick high-five–were rare. Mostly, the event suffered from a serious lack of focus. Given the expanse of the Verizon Center ice rink, it was hard to tell where to look: Do you choose to watch Brian Boitano shimmy across the ice while swathed in restrictive skin-tight leather pants? Or do you choose to watch Seal triumphantly pump his fist while “Amazing” builds to finale? One thing’s clear: Nobody should ever have to make that choice.
But midway through the program, The Music of Seal on Ice made the choice for me. In an astonishing turn, Seal disappeared backstage for a staggering five songs while skaters performed their routines to canned Seal records. Playing recorded Seal while Seal is in the building is like staging an ice dance routine without any axels: It’s just bullshit. I’m interested to see how NBC deals with this; I’m betting they just loop one clip of Seal clapping his hands over his head and stomping his foot to the songs he didn’t actually sing. Just add in the “15 to 20 seconds of [forced] enthusiastic applause” the Verizon Center audience was instructed to record, and TV viewers won’t know the difference.
Still, the male audience member who screamed, simply, “Yeahhhh, Seeeeeaaaaaal!” across the arena after each song had a point: When everything’s said and done, Seal’s awesome. New single “Amazing” is a surprisingly catchy dance number, his back catalogue is stronger than you’d think, and his package alone has the power to make supermodels fall in love with him and want to have his babies.
Near the end of the show, when Seal serenaded Kristi Yamaguchi to “Kiss From a Rose,” everybody in that arena felt it. This time, the 15 to 20 seconds of enthusiastic applause was uncued.