“We Will Rock You” close on 31st May
After 12 Years on the West End, the hugely popular show, ‘We will rock you’ will be closing for the final time. Although with 4500 performances and 6.6 million tickets sold across 12 years, what will the musicians do now?
Some of the shows composers and accompanists have formed a new band called Space Elevator, playing the same type of rock music and unlike the iPlanet, no musical instruments are banned.
The group have played together in ‘We will Rock You’ and have now hooked up with the beautifully bonkers front woman ‘The Duchess’ to form the next best thing in British Rock.
The job of a pit musician is to be heard and not seen. They provide memorable backing tracks and sound effects to the actor’s performance. Their job is not an easy one, relentless playing of instruments for 3 hours a night would take its toll on the best of us.
As the repetition can be rather gruelling, playing six nights a week plus two matinees, there is a prevalent fear that the musician will lose their edge. This is one reason why deputies are regularly used; they provide rest periods and help maintain the quality you show all week round.
After the success of the 1986 ‘Musicians Union’ Strike, the west end saw an increase in rates and the pits saw an introduction of new talent; with past experience of working in recording studios.
Show producers want the shows to emulate that of a recording to the audience and there are now many famous session players in use to keep the standard of music as high as possible.
Whilst ‘We will Rock You’ used accompaniment from a live band, it was disappointing to see the pit musicians in ‘War Horse’ being replaced by an original Soundtrack (OST) and yet the music is considered to carry enough gravitas to be used ‘live’ at the proms this year!
Members from the new band, Space Elevator are asked about the show and their aspirations
When asked why Queen and Ben Elton’s show was such a success, they believe it is simply the Music.
“This is universally known and loved, Queen have so many hits that we would defy almost anyone even almost 30 years after the original four last played live not to know 90% of the Show. The music is loud and the audience gets swept away every night and at the end it’s like being at a rock concert, with the chance to stand up, stomp and clap and go nuts. Queen wrote songs that speak to all classes, all generations. They write songs to be sung on football terraces and also on the West End stage. Every member of Queen has written a top 10 hit. Such a vast catalogue of instantly catchy accessible music! The lyrics are witty and poignant and uplifting. The band in the show sounds so incredible that you get carried away with nostalgia and enthusiasm. Even though most of the vocals sound “musical theatre” the actual band sounds totally authentic and rocking like a Queen concert and that’s why it works. Also it shows great respect to Freddie’s memory. He was the greatest frontman ever and this is acknowledged in the story”.
Collectively, the members of Space Elevator have appeared in over 4000 WWRY shows. They have all contributed to the show on and off since the very beginning, either as musical directors, full time band members or as a guitar and key deputies (deps).
Upon being asked if they were ever nervous they told us that performing in the show is not a unique experience, as they regularly play in orchestras and rock bands, but of course musicians do experience nerves from time to time…you have to get it right, and be able to create that authentic Queen sound.
The first few shows can be difficult for deps as they have no rehearsal on the show apart from sitting in and watching, just imagine your first night in front of 2000 in the West End where everyone knows every note!!!!……That’s Pressure.
Memorable WWRY shows
Included is one which was a tribute to what would have been Freddie Mercury’s 60th birthday. Brian May and Roger Taylor joined in for an extended encore. We played The Show Must Go On with them, Brian performed Love Of My Life and Roger performed Say It’s Not True. That was a lovely night.
Another fantastic night was the Cast Change 2011, where Brian May came in and played Bohemian Rhapsody with us.
Some nights it is the audience. There have been many famous people in the audience, such as Beyonce, Britney Spears, Victoria Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Liza Minnelli etc or well-known people guesting on stage on special occasions, such as McFly, but the most memorable performance for many of the full time members of the band was at the Queen’s Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace in 2002.
The Space Elevator line up have also worked in other West End shows including Rock of Ages, Rocky Horror, Wicked, Footloose, The Sound Of Music, Flashdance and Quadrophenia but now the focus is on the new music.
A final question was put to lead singer The Duchess…as to whether it was the show that gave them the Space Elevator idea? She commented that
“the music of Queen massively influenced Space Elevator’s sound, Freddie’s voice and Brian’s guitar especially, plus the bombastic theatrical sound of Queen. The song We Are The Losers is a complete homage to the sound of Queen with an obvious nod to We Are The Champions!”
Space Elevator consist of guitarist David Young (We Will Rock You/Curved Air), Elliott Ware (The Who/Rock of Ages/We Will Rock You/Sunny Afternoon) on keys, Neil Murray (Whitesnake/Black Sabbath/Gary Moore/The Brian May Band, We Will Rock You) on bass and Brian Greene (George Benson/Curved Air) on drums along with mysterious lead singer “The Duchess”.
Space Elevator CD is out now – from Amazon, HMV and all good record shops. Cat No SECD1
Musicians/singers are available for interview