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March 14, 2007

Age of Ga Ga


Sweet Suzie McNeil* took centre stage all too infrequently in last night's final dress rehearsal for "We Will Rock You", the Queen tribute craptacular now arrived in Toronto. This is a shame. McNeil provided the only touchstone of authenticity in the entire piece.

"Set 300 years in the future, in a time when live music is banned on earth, We Will Rock You is about the kids who are in rebellion, fighting against the all-powerful Globalsoft Corporation that controls their lives and feeds them a diet of synthesized pop," according to the producers. "Could the young Galileo and Scaramouche be the heroes needed who will help them 'break free' of their chains to rediscover themselves and live music?"

Anyone expecting Mama Mia is going to be disappointed. We Will Rock You has the sketchiest of plots, a hand-wavey science fiction story whose sole intent is to string together three hours of Queen's greatest hits. In the future, see, rock music will be against the law and young people will only care about shopping and boy bands. Two plucky misfits join the Bohemian rebellion to take on the forces of Ga Ga; could there be love? Etc., etc. If it all sounds familiar it is only because the rest of your brain has yet to leak out of your head in a desperate attempt to escape. I knew we were in trouble with the first reference to missing weapons of mass destruction; it could only be a matter of time before global warming and globalization were worked into the plot (as indeed they were). Still, better than Shostakovich.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the piece** might be described as a founding absence of "rock". The Bohemians are dedicated to rock, learning about it through lyric remnants in the sacred scrolls, but do not know what the words mean. Even rebellion itself is a hazy concept - as are anarchy and individuality - long lost to the homogenization of Planet Mall. Which is what we might call ironic given most of the audience appeared not to have a clue either. The show is a nullity; a commodification of the Queen oeuvre as an ersatz protest against commodification. As if Queen were not out to make money in the first place. As if the survivors are not using this show to keep the franchise going long after its sell by date. Vulgar, knowing and ignorant: We Will Rock You is an abomination. An offense to the holy memory of Freddie Mercury (pbuh).

* Back from entertaining the troops in Afghanistan, bless.
** Second to Suzie in torn tights and combat boots, of course.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 14, 2007 07:43 AM


Funny, when I saw it in London it was MiG (from Rockstar INXS) who played Galileo. I had fun, I must admit.

Which subway station did they use for the kids' base?

Posted by: The_Campblog [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2007 08:49 AM

The Sister of the Flea, responsible for the tickets and who enjoyed the show better than I did, suggested the London iteration would have been better due to MiG. Though she also liked him better on Rock Star than I did. Basically, for me, more Suzie more better. Also, they really should have found a way to give her Bohemian Rhapsody.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2007 09:10 AM

I missed the subway station reference, lost as it was in asides about Maple Leaf Gardens, Zellers, that revolting "I Am Canadian" ad, Celine Dion and a flash of maple leaf knickers. Globalization, bad. Canadian jingoism, good.

Also featured: Frequent use of the term "assh*le", facial expressions during bikini waxing and "don't call me babe" girl-power. Troy McClure would have raised the tone of the piece.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2007 09:17 AM

I wish somebody would make a musical vehicle for the entire works of a lightweight hair-metal band. It would be incredibly cheesy, but also nigh-impossible to work any sort of political consciousness into it.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2007 09:55 AM

Can there be irony in such an apparently vacuous piece in the non-futurist reality that the rebellious Queen of Queen II was sold out by the Queen of "I Want To Ride My Bicycle" to whatever corporatist interests there were to be sold out to?

Posted by: Alan McLeod [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2007 10:22 AM

A far cry from Tottenham Court Road tube station and a finale at the ruins of Wembly! 8-)

The next big one will probably involve the Billy Joel catalog.

Posted by: The_Campblog [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2007 11:03 AM

Wembley got a mention but only with reference to Maple Leaf Gardens being turned into a Loblaws. It really was that parochial and inane.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2007 11:22 AM

Three words

Blas phem ous

Posted by: Gorthos [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 17, 2007 01:11 PM