Riffs of regret

May 6, 2008 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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On June 27th, expect Hyde Park to be packed with platitudes from washed-up musicians. A massive open-air concert is planned in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday and artists as diverse as Shirley Bassey, Razorlight, Eddy Grant, Annie Lennox and Sugababes are all slated to appear, belt out a few hits and make some cloyingly sentimental statement about how apartheid was a really dumb idea.

Incredibly, they’ll be joined by a Freddie-less Queen, whose social conscience runs so deep that they were one of a small number of ‘artists’ who insisted on breaking the United Nations’ cultural boycott of South Africa. “The band is not political”, Brian May said at the time. “We play to anybody who wants to come and listen”. And if that audience just happened to be exclusively white and complicit in the oppression of those who weren’t, well, Queen weren’t going to tell them how to run their country.

The band’s been enormously successful since those performances, but I suspect they lost more goodwill among music fans than the fees they received could ever compensate for. Why do I get the feeling that each guitar riff Brian May regurgitates on June 27th will be dripping with regret?

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