Shop Boys, De Montfort
University, Leicester (14.01.2002)
The Pet Shop Boys doing a proper gig?
This has got to be one of the most anticipated shows of the year from
a duo whove managed to clasp onto their own identity throughout
3 decades. I started noting down all their hit songs from
memory and gave up after I reached the 20 mark, cant say that for
The stage is impressively lit with a rig that looks like it cost more
than it did to make their entire catalogue of albums. Lord knows how much
their usual choreographed theatrical show costs, but Im told this
is stripped down.
Chris Lowe comes on towing the session band sporting the trademark hoody
and cap, still emotionless still engaging.
Neil Tennant arrives after the beat-fuelled intro, wearing a black designer
shirt ready to pop the house and for a thin sounding voice
his words cut through astonishingly well through the hungry but harmless
male dominated audience.
The fact is PSB dont really need to gig at all. They could easily
roam the West End never having to worry about paying their rent. You get
the impression though that they are doing this purely because they want
a new challenge and in their own unique way they pass the test from the
outset Disco Pretentia (Im sure you can visualise this
For a set almost 90 minutes long (with encores) youd be forgiven
for thinking it should sound like a greatest hits show with classics like
Opportunities, Its a sin, Rent, Domino Dancing and Jealousy at their
command. After all its not like theyve played these songs
to death over the years...theyve never seen the light of day in
an intimate environment.
Yet more than half the set is either B-sides or songs from their new album
of which the most instant is Home and dry, there first single
this year. Tennant plays many of the songs with an acoustic guitar which
makes me wonder if all PSB songs were composed in this fashion. They are
always very simple and direct but maintain their inimitable style by throwing
in some humorous observation, He wants to be, a graphic designer...Sexy
northerner (Sexy Northerner-B-side to Home and Dry).
I get the nagging feeling that despite having a percussionist and two
live guitarists (who throughout the set are suspiciously low in the mix)
there is a real lack of dynamics here that would normally thrill with
a live drummer. The songs are rigidly programmed but this should be expected,
from a duo always heavily studio based.
The highlights come just when Im on the point of disappointment,
Love comes quickly is simply beautiful and Go West
has just the right amount of camp irony. Through the crowd mouthing the
lyrics, is a lone bearded, leather bound biker, mincing as the sampled
backing from the London Gay mens choir chant Together, this
is our destiny!
You could never accuse the Pet Shop Boys of being under ambitious but
tonight Matthew this is the real thing.