Happy news today that the Queen musical We Will Rock You is to finish.


My glee is not due to Queen hatred, nor is it cultural snobbery. Well, alright, it is a bit culturally snobbish. Yet it is my culture, so permit me do weird self-loathing and disdain as I please. I wrote an article about We Will Rock You the musical in 2006, on a previous blog (Slalom Speaking).

After some introductory associative waffling, the main thrust of the article was about what a disappointment Ben Elton turned out to be:

“…This witless combination of hamfisted satire and late 20th century media obsessions kind of exemplifies where it all went wrong for Ben, or Baron Benjamin of Elton as he is now certain to become, thanks to his close links with the Royal Family. When his essentially reactionary jobbing farty persona was revealed to be, well, not a persona. Yes indeed.

Align Left (until 1993)

Align Left (until 1993)

I mean, I let him off to a certain extent because he co-wrote Blackadder. However, the chamber of horrors London West End rock musicals lay like a fat grease spot on a napkin undulating over a contentedly stuffed gut.

It’s not just Queen, but “Tonight’s the Night”, about Rod Stewart (Actual quote: “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy sung by groupies, Hot Legs sung by masseuses, Sailing sung by sailors” – SWEET JESUS!) “The Beautiful Game”, about football… Benny, will you give it up? It’s a short step from “Tonight’s the Night” to ‘Ben Elton announces his new project, a musical about T.Rex called “Dandy in the Underworld”, in which Marc Bolan returns from the dead to show people how we can save the world with glam rock, feather boas and eyeliner…’, and then I’m afraid I shall have to call the police.

Here is my idea for a new musical: “Elton Benny & The Jets”, a rock-musical about a wealthy but washed-up comedy writer in his fifties. Elton Benny has rejected glam glitz and spangly suits and pseudo-political engagement and being funny in favour of novels about banal bourgeois mating rites and doing the book for a succession of feeble yet toweringly successful musicals which allow already insanely, impossibly wealthy 70’s rock musicians to further milk a bored public for their hard-earned readies. Watching some old comedy clips and punk videos on YouTube he rediscovers his political mojo and with a refreshed engagement with reality inspires a new generation of performers, before being tragically, farcically, crushed by a giant eclair.

Featuring the music of Elton John. Starring Jake Shears from Scissor Scisters as Elton Benny. Rik Mayall as The Pinball Wizard (until September). One stalls seat: £274.50.

I can pinpoint the exact moment I knew it was over between me and Sir Lord Benjamin-Benjamin of Eltonia. It was the juncture at which, hosting the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, he turned to the crowd at Buckingham Palace with that familiar elbow-out microphone gesture and upturned shiny face and intoned the deathless phrase:

‘Ladies and Gentlemen, will you please give it up for The Spice Girls?!’

Yes indeed.”


Well, I’m sure that told him. Fortunately, all that tide of bile can now ebb, because the ‘jukebox musical’ We Will Rock You has closed, which perhaps might signal an end to That Sort of Thing in general.

Still, I like Queen a great deal – so do lots of people, they’ve sold squijillions of records. Which was why I suppose I always hated the idea of the musical. My sister saw it. She said it was enjoyable crap – terrible dialogue and story, but Queen songs. I’m pretty sure she said there was no way she would have gone if it hadn’t been someone else that paid for the tickets. We-Will-Rock-You-at-The-Dominion always struck me as a bit of a tawdry cheat, when you could just stick on a Queen album. Or, as anyone who has read Good Omens will tell you, any tape at all in a car, seeing as they will over time transmute into a Greatest Hits of Queen.

So, happy news. Besides, whenever I feel sad about anything, I just pop on this version of ‘Somebody to Love’, recorded at the Milton Keynes Bowl in 1982.

Free, I tell ya.