Queen: We Will Rock You Musical Review

So, I’ve started writing about this bout half an hour after the musical, and frankly speaking the musical had some good points and some bad points (let’s just call it not-so-good points).

I think that anyone who at least likes Bohemian Rhapsody would say the musical is good, but how good it is (and whether it deserves your money/ night) really depends what you, on a personal basis, listen to Queen for. A lot of Queen’s hits are hits because they fuse glam rock, hard rock and a decent melody/ beat (things like Fat Bottomed Girls, We Will Rock You, Hammer To Fall); and there is another group of hits that are hits because they are peaceful, calm, beautiful, and sung by Freddie Mercury (e.g. Love Of My Life, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy). Which is why I concur with many other people who say that Bohemian Rhapsody is Queen’s magnum opus; it balances the two elements into a partially operatic and ultimately explosive track, both in the rock and the shock value. Everything about it is pioneering: the 81 layers of voices (I may be wrong about the number), the video which centres around 4 faces (which honestly IS glam, because nothing else can be better), the crazy B flat that Roger Taylor hits at the end of the operatic section and the lyrics which, uh, really don’t mean anything much.

Obviously it isn’t as simple as two reasons to love Queen (if you were to ask me to list reasons why I love Queen, I’d mention the Red Special, Roger Taylor’s “stadium drumming” effect, the “choir” effect and the awesome [and underrated] bass, not forgetting Mr. Bulsara), but you’ll see why I divide it this way when you look at the song list. Undoubtedly speaking, anyone who loves the electricity in Queen live would absolutely enjoy the musical. It sets your feet tapping (or at least it set mine); the performers know what being a modern rock star is like (so at some points it will feel like a rock concert, plus they sing well, so jeez pwn plez); the band is pretty decent; these three factors combine to awesome awesome awesome. However, I personally felt the list was too engineered towards hard rock; there were some notable missing tracks from it – Play The Game, Love Of My Life, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy, The Show Will Go On; all of which are relatively balladic/ operatic and to me are more suitable for a musical. (Love Of My Life is my second most favourite track from A Night At The Opera, after Bohemian Rhapsody. A Night At The Queen Musical. Featuring ONLY one track from A Night At The Opera – that’s disappointing.) Inclusion of some of these tracks would have made the musical experience truly magnifico.

Moving beyond the set list, I’d say some performances were disappointing while some others were just breathtaking. The first song, Radio Ga Ga, was desperately lacking a Freddie Mercury (I almost teared on this song because it cannot bloody do without him), and I thought the music would be doomed; but it was redeemed later by I Want To Break Free (not the best, but still not bad) and Somebody To Love (I loved this regardless of the performance [which was decent]; one of my all time favourite Queen songs). Under Pressure was horrid without the bass line at the start (but that may just be my bias towards John Deacon, and I think the bass line came in at the end); but thank goodness Act 1 ended with a truly awe-inspiring Crazy Little Thing Called Love (which was EXACTLY Elvis in terms of the Jailhouse Rock video, brilliant).

Act 2 had hilarious scenes accompanying the music (for those watching, look out for Flash, Another One Bites The Dust); if I didn’t like the music, at least I spent the time laughing. Flash was missing one important part “He’s for every one of us, Stand for every one of us, He’ll save with a mighty hand, Every man every woman every child, With a mighty flash”, which is incidentally my favourite part of the song, but well it wouldn’t fit into the plot. Seven Seas of Rhye was missing the essential high (soprano?) part for “Storm the master marathon I’ll fly through, By flash and thunder fire I’ll survive, I’ll survive I’ll survive” but other than that it was niceish. Don’t Stop Me Now was cut too short, but maybe it’s because the lyrics of the second verse aren’t that appropriate :). The introduction to These Are The Days Of Our Lives was reminiscently mercuric; I enjoyed it immensely. We Will Rock You might have been a little too poppish in terms of vocal delivery (i.e. it needs to be more aggressive, growly, straight-to-the-pitch), but no biggie. And Bohemian Rhapsody was done with 10000 Telsa coils striking down on the audience but I’d wish the operatic section was arranged better :(. Looks like I complain more than I praise, but the “complaints” are just very minor comments which do little to damage great music.

If you’re hunting for a good storyline, don’t bet on this – the storyline is pretty cheesy and boring. You’re not going to be engaged by it, unless you find typical dystopias interesting. But if you’re looking for a good laugh, and know something about pop music history (well, if you know who Victoria Beckham is it’s enough), you’ve found the right play – Ben Elton delivers a stunning comedic script; you do not need engagement with the plot to enjoy the show (not like The Pillowman which was great in its own ways). A plus point is that there are local jokes (and textbook comedy) included so if you don’t know about Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain you’re not lost entirely. To end this off, if you want to watch the musical, watch it for the laughs (that are seriously quite awesome, if I have somewhat downplayed them), and most importantly the music (i.e. please like Queen A LITTLE, at least, before you decide to go. If you think this review is THAT positive, remember that it comes from a Queen fan. And if you think this review is negative, remember that I like X Japan too, as much as Queen. Don’t trust my tastes).

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