Skylight at Moynihan Station in Midtown Manhattan resembled an "Amazing Spider-Man 2" theme park Thursday evening, complete with a Spider-Man ice cream truck, Spider-Man video games, and cocktails with names like the Peter Parker Rita, the Ultimate Mary Jane, and the Amazing Sipper. But the real main attraction at the afterparty for the U.S. premiere of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" was the concert by the eclectic range of artists who contributed to the film's soundtrack — all performing on a spider-shaped stage, of course.
Taking that stage well after 11 p.m., Pharrell Williams, film scorer Hans Zimmer, and their many special guests played a 25-minute set that resembled a theater in the round. Jamie Foxx appeared first (with his 5-year-old, face-painted daughter in tow), and then Pharrell — casually clad in a hoodie, torn jeans, brown boots, and his trademark Buffalo hat — sauntered up just as his hit song "Happy" blared from the speaker system. Pharrell sang along, beaming like a kid, before Foxx joked, "This man has been making great music for 30 years — and he's only 15 years old!"
Pharrell then took a seat behind the drums as Zimmer led his all-star band through a multifaceted part of the movie score that genuinely felt like movements in a symphony — only with rotating vocalists. Pharrell may have been an integral part in the composition process, but clearly Zimmer was the architect of this project, assembling gifted musicians that spanned generations and encouraging them to work together in a way that never felt like a tug-of-war between the veterans and the newbies.
Smiths legend Johnny Marr seemed to be enjoying himself as he strummed and plucked on his green Fender Jaguar alongside Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger, Pharrell, and various guests. Vocally, the highlight of the evening came when Alicia Keys joined the band for the song "It's On Again," which also featured Kendrick Lamar. Contrasting with Lamar's aggressive rapping, Keys belted her sweet, soulful lines with seemingly no effort.
There were two other vocal numbers, which featured members of Hans Zimmer and the Magnificent Six, but the instrumental passages were just as captivating, combining traditional classic score music with hip-hop rhythms and electro-industrial effects on numbers like "Within the Web," "Of Time and Dreams," and "Electrified," which built and receded in intensity in grandiose orchestral swells. During the show's most dramatic climaxes, it wasn't difficult to imagine everyone's favorite web-slinging superhero zipping through the city, chasing nefarious villains as cars explode and innocent lives are saved at the last possible moment.
Fortunately, the team of Zimmer, Williams, Marr, Einziger, Keys, and Lamar offered more than mere escapism. Together, they created music that defied boundaries and, like Trent Reznor's scores with Atticus Ross for David Fincher's films, created new possibilities for cinema soundtracks.