Nights In

We will rock you: musical review

Real music is long dead. Instruments are banned. The iPlanet chart is dominated by hits that are scheduled years in advance. There are no rock bands, only boy bands, girl bands, boy and girl bands and “girl bands with a couple of boys in them that look like girls anyway”. The Bieber fever epidemic is the least of our worries.

Only the rebellious Bohemians can save the iPlanet. They believe there was once a time when young people formed their own bands and wrote their own music – a time they call The Rhapsody.

An unlikely hero who calls himself Galileo guides the Bohemians in the hope of reviving rock music. He dreams of songs and lyrics from the forgotten past. With the help of his “chick” Scaramouche, he uses these fragments to search for Brian May’s guitar (The Hairy One’s axe) – which is the only real instrument left in the world.

Ben Elton and Queen’s We Will Rock You is one of the longest running West End musicals, having made its London debut over ten years ago. And despite taking an absolute hammering from the critics, the show has been a massive global success.

An estimated 15 million people have seen the show worldwide. Surely this is a testament to Queen’s songs. Without the hits, it is doubtful the show would have run for as long as it has. The storyline is banal, the jokes are silly – but every song is a gem.

We Will Rock You played four times over three days in the O2 Dublin last week. The show attracted decent numbers, but it was far from a sell-out. This is not surprising – there were no major star appearances or surprise cameos that tend to draw people into these things.

The cast was made up of talented performers and musicians who worked hard to interact with an otherwise reserved audience. There seemed to be an overall reluctance to fully engage with the act itself – most people simply wanted to hear Queen’s giant hits in a suitably large arena setting.

There were some genuinely funny moments and impressive dance routines, but nothing beats the real deal. If anything, We Will Rock You proves that no one will ever replace Freddie Mercury – not even a huge cast of gifted singers and dancers. His absence from the music world is accentuated by this massive show – it makes you wonder what could have been.

There will only ever be one Freddie.