Friday, May 23, 2003

With the belter at the Western Canadian Magazine Awards tonight, I had the place to myself. After she left, I looked out the peephole to make sure the coast was clear, then I locked the door. I turned on the TV, making sure the volume wasn’t too loud. Finally I kicked off my pants, flopped down on the chesterfield and watched a Queen concert on the CBC.

Well, it wasn’t really Queen—more like Roger Taylor and Brian May and Phil Collins out of Genesis and dozens of nobodies. It wasn’t really a concert either. It was some kind of outdoor fest adjacent to Buckingham Palace. They did four songs, then got off.

First up: “Radio Ga-Ga.” Not a good way to start. Roger Taylor sang this one. He wrote it, didn’t he? I wasn’t buying Queen albums when this came out, so I can’t check credits. The crowd did the obligatory Nuremberg rally hand-clap routine and that was that. If Roger had to do one of his songs, I would have preferred “Tenement Funster.”

“We Will Rock You” (May sang this one) and “We Are the Champions” followed. Someone named Will Young came on stage and took the mike for the latter tune. (I just had a look, and young Will actually battled Gareth Gates to take England’s Pop Idol competition.)

At some point during this double-shot, the stage was invaded by…what the hell was that? Some kind of mob swathed in torn denim and Danskin. The cast of Cats? Oh, right, it must be the cast of that Queen musical, the one Ben Elton ripped off the plotline of 2112 for.

Finally the money shot—“Bohemian Rhapsody.” I eyed the door nervously. What if the belter forgot her purse and came charging in? I picked up the remote, ready to change the channel at a split-second’s notice.

But what’s this? Some red-shirted weed from the Queen musical had the mike now, performing the song as a duet with a short blonde woman. This made no sense at all. Then, after the cast of dozens did the opera section, a black lady with a hairdo like the Heat Miser sang the heavy bit at the end. It was a far weirder scene than anything Freddie Mercury could have dreamt up.

“Anyway the wind blows…” As the final gong reverberated, so did the guilt and shame through my being.

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