Gig review: Bohemian Rhapsody, Edinburgh

Nathan James in Bohemian Rhapsody. Picture: Comp

Nathan James in Bohemian Rhapsody. Picture: Comp

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IN 30 years’ time will Justin Bieber be touring the UK in much the same way as David van Day of Dollar does now? Will we be turning out in droves to watch tribute acts of the Pussy Cat Dolls, Eminem and One Direction?

Edinburgh Playhouse * * *

It’s a sobering and somewhat melancholy thought. All that passion and vigour we have now, replaced by fond nostalgia and nights out where we try to recapture the fleeting essence of our youth.

The thing with Queen is that its music has a transcendent energy, like Wagner or Gershwin. It bridges generations and captures our hearts afresh each time we hear it, it is a kind of magic that makes us feel young and alive, even on days when we feel particularly weary with life.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a tribute to that, a perky run-through of all our favourite Queen anthems by a group of talented singers. Everything a decent tribute act should have is there – an enticing line-up of first rate voices, great sound from a good live band, the obligatory moving light rig and lissome dancers in sparkly hot pants with ripped fishnets and big hair. The costumes are the de rigueur 80s rocker meets Steampunk down the back alley of a Soho cabaret bar. All a bit reminiscent of an early 90s chewing gum ad, really. What’s not to like?

Their final three songs, Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions, had the audience on their feet joining in and, for a Tuesday evening, giving it laldy.

Yet the production as a whole lacks charisma, that quirky vim which catapults a show from the so-so to the outstanding. For a crazy moment the mind bogglingly literal choreography of Bicycle caught the attention for it’s eccentric fun, but it was all too brief a Eurovisionesque aside.

What really stands out, bizarrely, is the similarity of the ensemble to a Rocky Horror Show cast. It’s almost as if they were planning a Rocky tour, but the rights fell through at the last second so Brad and Riff Raff picked up guitars and came up with this instead.

At least Rocky would have stretched the cast’s talents somewhat more than this glorified karaoke.

• Run ends Saturday.