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GonnaUseMyPrisoners user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 19 Sep 04, 23:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm sure you'll love this scathing article found in today's Chicago Tribune, so enjoy! Author: Chris Jones, Tribune Arts Reporter.

LAS VEGAS - The late Freddie Mercury and his Queen (sic) pursued radical, boundary-crashing careers that resisted generic restriction, critiqued the masculine assumptions of rock music, and produced a body of work that managed to be grandiose, playful, classical and camp. All at the same time.

But if actual life could not tame the greedy red lips of the irrepressible Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991, his legacy has proved unable to resist the forces of Las Vegas, which now draws its lifeblood not from the Rat Pack, but from Boomer culture.

It's Baby Boomers - especially California Baby Boomers - who now feed the Vegas slot machines and crowd its tables. And thus their fantasies of eternal youth and perpetual cultural relevance must be indulged. Ergo, the deftly timed "We Will Rock You," the latest spectacular theatrical product to make landfall on a Strip that's rapidly overtaking Broadway in size and scope, has arrived to fill that need.

Here at the Paris Hotel in the world's weirdest desert, the Queen oeuvre has been given a colossal makeover. And the great, strange Mercury himself has been retooled as a kind of resuscitated spokes-model for the most hackneyed, self-serving, geezer metaphor in the world.

Those boy-band, rapping, teeny-pop stars know nothing about real music, Queen is now screaming metaphorically from the stage of the Paris Hotel six nights a week, and often twice a night. Ah, but YOU do, my middle-age friends! For YOU will never, ever be too old to rock 'n' roll.

A GAME FOR THE AGES.

This is a game that plenty of aging rockers are all to happy to play in today's Vegas. At the opening of "We Will Rock You" here earlier this month, the [GUMP: NOTE - the rest of this hilarious sentence is a CAREFUL, EXACT QUOTE FROM THE ARTICLE] two surviving members of Queen, Roger May and Brian Taylor, were playing their instruments, drinking in the adulation and, presumably, the money. Even Meat Loaf was on hand for atmosphere.

"We Will Rock You" sticks powerhouse renditions of 20 of Queen's best-known hits within a largely incomprehensible, futuristic plot of staggering stupidity. It is not so much selling nostalgia as eternal youth. Vegas now has figured out that ever-competetive Boomers don't want gentle memories as their parents did (an Elvis gone to seed, for example). That won't cut it. Boomers need to believe their culture is still superior to all that came thereafter.

From the lounges designed to excite a man in his 40s to the paunch-heavy parties at the House of Blues, Vegas is all too happy to deliver. Better than anywhere else in the world.

And in a town that subsists very nicely on our growing need to make a bet, it's a sure bet that plenty of people will be buying this brilliantly packaged latest brand of Queen-themed snake oil for months, if not years. At a top ticket price of $113.50.

This is why Las Vegas now is threatening Broadway's dominance when it comes to live entertainment. The hotel executives who book the entertainment here have a much more sophisticated understanding of pleasing an audience. Unlike the producers in New York, they know precisely how to attract people between 35 and 50. The people with the money and the inclination to blow it.

<<<part 2 to follow in next post>>>


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joeyjojo user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 19 Sep 04, 23:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Well, to be honest, sounds like a valid critique of most pop-culture off-broadway schlock...especially the ones based on musical careers (Abba's, Billy Joel's, etc.)

But, schlock sells--especially in Vegas--so be it.

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Posted: 19 Sep 04, 23:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

<<<cont'd from previous post>>>

JAW-DROPPING DISCONNECT

But even by the lofty standards of Vegas - where cultural iconography routinely is co-opted, re-packed and re-purposed - the disconnect between "We Will Rock You" and the originial impulses behind the work of Queen is a jaw-dropper.

Born in Zanzibar, the iconoclastic Mercury wrote a score for Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" [GUMP: ahem!!!], was embraced by the Spanish opera diva Montserrat Caballé, and back in 1975, penned the eccentric epic "Bohemian Rhapsody."

That multimelodic masterpiece - a record that pretty much overcame all attempts to define it - came replete with pan-cultural references to Bismillah (an invocation from the Koran), Scaramouche and Galileo. And it took nearly six minutes to play - an age in those vinyl times.

When he died, Mercury still had never fully explained what the strange lyrics of "Bohemian Rhapsody" actually meant. Mercury always resisted questions like that.

But Ben Elton, the British writer-director who penned the story and script for "We Will Rock You," which was a monster hit in London prior to Vegas, stepped into the breach. He seems to have stared at the opening lyrics to "Bohemian Rhapsody" and seen a prescient critique of Internet culture:

"Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see!"

Frankly, it's a bit of a stretch.

Go and see "We Will Rock You," and you'll find yourself stuck in a truly bizarre Orwellian fantasy universe in which globalization has rendered the entire world homogeneous, and computers write all the songs on Radio Ga Ga, to be dutifully downloaded by the pliant populace.

Only an old, rock-loving hippie (modeled incredibly on the character of Neil from "The Young Ones," an iconic MTV show in the 1980s) can save the world. "I want to break free," indeed.

If it all weren't so dumb, it would be kind of sweet.

Boy, Vegas these days is full of neo-Luddites, a.k.a. the middle-aged and the paranoid. A souped-up "Blue Man Group" uses technology to bash away at technology.

Penn and Teller fight on with anti-establishment attitude, desperate not to become Siegfried and Roy.

RADICAL REFORMATION

"We Will Rock You" originated in London (where it has played for three years), so it cannot entirely be blamed on Vegas. But it has been radically redone to conform to the Strip's new image of itself.

In one jaw-dropping rewrite, the countercultural types resisting Radio Ga Ga hang out not on the London Underground but in a Vegas bar, where hipsters sit around tables made from gambling devices, acting as if the good old days meant the days when slot machines had actual reels, not video displays.

Even as two or three companies are taking over most of the Strip hotels, Vegas, the ultimate capitalist triumph, has set itself up as a place where hippies once wanted to change the world.

It's a preposterous idea and makes a complete nonsense of the history of a place where Sammy Davis Jr. couldn't walk through the front door of a casino. But it seems to be working.

Boomers will buy anything that feels good.

[GUMP: the article, found on p.3 of the "Arts & Entertainment" section, also contains a really "MeatLoaf-y" photo of a Hippie Biker & 2 passengers sharing a large motorcycle. The picture's caption is: Even by the lofty standards of Las Vegas the disconnect between "We Will Rock You" at the Paris Hotel and the original impulses behind the work of Queen is a jaw-dropper.]

GUMP: I must say a few things - (1) This reviewer seems to retain a lot of respect for Queen's contribution to music (somewhat of a rarity in the U.S.A., it should be noted) (2) But he seems embarrassingly short of factual details, e.


...gonna use my prisoners, gonna give 'em the business...
Gunpowder Gelatine user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 19 Sep 04, 23:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Call me crazy, but I just saw We Will Rock You in Vegas a few days ago, and I liked it. Even having read all the bad reviews, I still think it was a good, well-written show.


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Posted: 20 Sep 04, 00:11 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Simply put, I can't stand "the theatre", and above all, the bewildering "musical theatre". And I think I've figured out the dividing line question that will separate those that like from those who won't: "Did you like Moulin Rouge?" god that frickin movie was awful. worse than having your toenails tweezed off your feet in a vat of boiling lime juice.

OH, and if you go, and you like it, god bless you. Honestly, I don't want to take away anyone's fun if they truly enjoy it. Live & let live. But despite my inherent hatred of boy-bands, being 41 (borderline Boomer/GenX), and not identifying AT ALL with rap, even a night of bad, drunken karaoke sounds more appealing!


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Posted: 20 Sep 04, 02:31 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Ah, dammit. You mean John died?

Fuck, I missed it.

-Amethyst


~~~

"You haven't lived until you've swallowed Freddie Mercury's cum." -- Roger Taylor

~~~
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Posted: 20 Sep 04, 08:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

GonnaUseMyPrisoners wrote:

Simply put, I can't stand "the theatre", and above all, the bewildering "musical theatre". And I think I've figured out the dividing line question that will separate those that like from those who won't: "Did you like Moulin Rouge?" god that frickin movie was awful. worse than having your toenails tweezed off your feet in a vat of boiling lime juice.

OH, and if you go, and you like it, god bless you. Honestly, I don't want to take away anyone's fun if they truly enjoy it. Live & let live. But despite my inherent hatred of boy-bands, being 41 (borderline Boomer/GenX), and not identifying AT ALL with rap, even a night of bad, drunken karaoke sounds more appealing!


Well, haven't seen it in Vegas, but been 3 & 1/2 times in London (was at the infamous Pepsi Night show but had to leave at half time as they overran so badly) and I enjoyed it each time. I have to say though, that I do cringe near the end when the story really does go a bit OTT with the "interpretation" of BoRhap. BUT, I am able to switch my brain off and just enjoy the humour and the music.

It's not meant to be Queen up there, it's meant to be young performers doing their best to sing great songs. And they do it a lot better than most other non-Queen artists have done in the past. If the quality of the Vegas show is anything like the London one, look out for the three female leads. They nail their songs (Break Free, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, Don't Stop Me Now and A Kind of Magic being the ones which stick in my mind).

I can see where your reservations come from, but it's just a fun night with a few laughs and great music.

Moulin Rouge? It was ok. Not fantastic, but ok. Wouldn't rush to watch it again.


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Posted: 20 Sep 04, 23:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Oberon wrote:
It's not meant to be Queen up there, it's meant to be young performers doing their best to sing great songs. And they do it a lot better than most other non-Queen artists have done in the past. If the quality of the Vegas show is anything like the London one, look out for the three female leads. They nail their songs (Break Free, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, Don't Stop Me Now and A Kind of Magic being the ones which stick in my mind).



I don't think anyone's under any illusions about whether it's a Queen lookalike or not up there... the article points out that in his mind it's really the current pop music & Las Vegas references that really make it obnoxious & unbearable. And the inference is that while the London version might very well be successful, it just don't "play" in Vegas with the Vegas references.

Oberon wrote:
Moulin Rouge? It was ok. Not fantastic, but ok. Wouldn't rush to watch it again.



I seriously think that's why you like WWRY: because musical theatre doesn't offend you like it does me. Oh, and Moulin Rouge really is PURE, BONELESS, SKINLESS, PITTED, UNADULTERATED CRAP.

At any rate, I'm fairly bummed at how few people replied to this thread - perhaps it's too topical, and doesn't attack enough people. Hell, at very least I thought SOMEONE might say "thanks" for typing that whole fucking thing out like I had nothing better to do for an hour. Whatever.


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Posted: 20 Sep 04, 23:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"Hell, at very least I thought SOMEONE might say "thanks" for typing that whole fucking thing out like I had nothing better to do for an hour. Whatever."

haven't discovered the power of cut-and-paste yet?

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Posted: 21 Sep 04, 00:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

GonnaUseMyPrisoners wrote:

At any rate, I'm fairly bummed at how few people replied to this thread - perhaps it's too topical, and doesn't attack enough people. Hell, at very least I thought SOMEONE might say "thanks" for typing that whole fucking thing out like I had nothing better to do for an hour. Whatever.


I didn't reply till now because I just got home! But trust me, I can relate to putting a lot of enthusiasm into a topic, and having it go over almost everybody's head. It's frustrating.

In terms of the article... you're never going to find a completely positive review on anything Queen in the US. Far too many people here just can't understand that concept.

joeyjojo wrote:

"Hell, at very least I thought SOMEONE might say "thanks" for typing that whole fucking thing out like I had nothing better to do for an hour. Whatever."

haven't discovered the power of cut-and-paste yet?


The Tribune is a newspaper. Thus, it requires typing. :)


"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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egret user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 21 Sep 04, 00:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Heck, GUMP, I will thank you for copying this here. I was fascinated, and cut and pasted it into my files, so your typing work will last for the ages, my friend.

I share your feelings about WWRY, to wit: highly-suspicious-of-it-but-don't-wish-to-be-wet-blanket

I LOVE that Chris Jones took account of the wonderful weirdness of Freddie, who was productively and artistically out there on so many more levels than just the sexual shenanigans frequently ballyhooed on this board. (Again, ballyhoo away, don't-wish-to-be-wet-blanket.)

Also, I've tried several times to watch the endlessly praised Moulin Rouge, and can never get through the first ten minutes without revulsion. And I sometimes like musical theatre.

So again, my appreciation and regards,

--Egret



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Posted: 21 Sep 04, 01:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Haven't seen the musical, but the WWRY musical CD is enough to discourage me from doing so in the future. (and that is, although the performance was interesting and at times very good!)


Goodbye April lady, It's been good to have you around - Goodbye April lady, You've done a lot for the folks in this town...
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Posted: 21 Sep 04, 01:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yeah, as Sir GH noted, I'm having some difficulty getting cut/paste to work between printed media and computers. Sorry my PC skills aren't that finely honed yet. (and I will NOT subscribe to on-line newspapers - it only results in endless spamming & phone solicitations.)

I'm not sure that John is dead, necessarily, though I could be wrong - he's always looked a little pastey to me. Maybe the author is counting the fabulous Freddie as 2 people? ;-) "Surviving" was a truly curious choice of words.

To my grateful and/or otherwise appreciative friends: You're welcome!


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Posted: 21 Sep 04, 04:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

GonnaUseMyPrisoners wrote:

Oberon wrote:
Moulin Rouge? It was ok. Not fantastic, but ok. Wouldn't rush to watch it again.



I seriously think that's why you like WWRY: because musical theatre doesn't offend you like it does me. Oh, and Moulin Rouge really is PURE, BONELESS, SKINLESS, PITTED, UNADULTERATED CRAP.


I think it's more to do with having an open mind and not discounting one show based on another. Don't understand how something like Moulin Rouge can "offend" you. You may not like it but, seems a little over the top to say it "offends".

Obviously I can't comment on the Vegas version, but critics do seem to take the whole thing WAY too seriously and you do too. The thing about it being so far from Queen's original impulse is irrelevant to me. Like I said before, it's not Queen up there, it's a new show to utilise the music. Why does it have to be in tune with their "original impulses" whatever that means. The fact that the musical doesn't take itself seriously, but takes the music seriously is, in fact to me, testament to the fact that it is in tune with Queen's orgininal impulses to some degree.

People are too precious about the music they love, and I am guilty of this too, but have learned to lighten up a little and live and let live. Critics are less likely to, and some people take them on their word without checking it out themselves (not too many people, of course, as the London show is still going strong despite being canned by the critics).

I'm not saying you have to go watch it, but I think you're missing something if you don't.


Tatterdemalion and the junketer

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Posted: 21 Sep 04, 04:45 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Kuku wrote:

Haven't seen the musical, but the WWRY musical CD is enough to discourage me from doing so in the future. (and that is, although the performance was interesting and at times very good!)


So why don't you want to go and see it then?!?!?!


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Posted: 21 Sep 04, 18:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Oberon wrote:

Kuku wrote:

Haven't seen the musical, but the WWRY musical CD is enough to discourage me from doing so in the future. (and that is, although the performance was interesting and at times very good!)


So why don't you want to go and see it then?!?!?!


Hmm.. good question. I see WWRY musical as a MUSICAL - as in, I don't care that the music the production uses is QUEEN, my favouriate band - it has to be a good musical for me to want to go see, and for me a good musical has to have certain elements which includes the elements of thematic approach, symbolism and dramaturgical structure. The lyric changes in the songs, the plot... I find them simply without substance (in terms of literary perspective) and too banal to really interest me - I admit it might be very different if I watch the actual show (that is, if it comes to my town at all), but for now I have no desire to go all the way to the US or other countries to watch it.


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Posted: 21 Sep 04, 19:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm only gonna get to see WWRY in my dreams. Literally. I actually had a dream the other night that I saw it, but I kept sneaking into the theater and getting kicked out cause I didn't have a ticket. :'( Also, in my dream, Marilyn Manson did a remake of Son & Daughter. Scary bananas.


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Posted: 22 Sep 04, 02:57 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I'm glad you posted that, GUMP... twas an interesting read.


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Posted: 22 Sep 04, 05:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Kuku wrote:

Oberon wrote:

Kuku wrote:

Haven't seen the musical, but the WWRY musical CD is enough to discourage me from doing so in the future. (and that is, although the performance was interesting and at times very good!)


So why don't you want to go and see it then?!?!?!


Hmm.. good question. I see WWRY musical as a MUSICAL - as in, I don't care that the music the production uses is QUEEN, my favouriate band - it has to be a good musical for me to want to go see, and for me a good musical has to have certain elements which includes the elements of thematic approach, symbolism and dramaturgical structure. The lyric changes in the songs, the plot... I find them simply without substance (in terms of literary perspective) and too banal to really interest me - I admit it might be very different if I watch the actual show (that is, if it comes to my town at all), but for now I have no desire to go all the way to the US or other countries to watch it.


Fair enough. Hopefully it'll tour Canada! But if you're big on the dramatics and themes etc, you might be right in thinking it's not for you. Call me a Stepford, but I just enjoy seeing the music performed (and there are some laughs to be had).


Tatterdemalion and the junketer

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