Pet Shop Boys goes purely electronic again with Super album
ONE OF the pioneering acts in electronica, Pet Shop Boys blurred the line between music and theatre with elaborate, quirky concerts that made crowds dance and chuckle at once.
Some 35 years since Chris Lowe ( right) and Neil Tennant ( far right) formed the duo in London, electronic dance music with extravagant shows has become the norm on the live scene – and Pet Shop Boys is once again charting its own way.
the 13th album by Pet Shop Boys, is its second straight release that is purely electronic, with none of the instrumentation from piano to strings to Latin drums that sprinkled earlier work.
The first single, The Pop Kids, sets the tone for the latest Pet Shop Boys period with singer Tennant and keyboardist Lowe embracing the joys of club life, yet unabashedly taking the vantage point of elders.
“We stayed out ‘til late five nights a week /And felt so chic / They called us The Pop Kids,” Tennant sang of the London club life of yesteryear in his recognisable voice, high-pitched and elegantly understated.
In touring for the album released earlier this year, Pet Shop Boys is also stripping back. Performing Saturday night in New York, the duo presented the musical roots of electronica, performing not as showmen but as a full-fledged band.
“At the end of this strange and significant week, what better place to be than among friends?” asked Tennant, referring to the shock presidential election victory of Republican tycoon Donald Trump.
As the crowd cheered, he added: “Tonight, New York, you are The Pop Kids.”
Tennant and Lowe entered The Theatre at Madison Square Garden with typical pizzazz, with each of them strapped to an oval white screen that flipped 180° to face the crowd.
Sporting oversized metallic helmets, Pet Shop Boys opened with Inner Sanctum, a steamy house club track off before going straight into West End Girls, duo’s very first single.
The two quickly drew open a curtain to transform from a duo into a five-piece act, with two percussionists and another keyboardist joining the show.
As if reinforcing the idea that electronica can be a band affair, the the stage transformed for Left to My Own Devices, the three back-up musicians upfront even as the beat went deeper into the club vibe.
In contrast to much dance music, Pet Shop Boys songs nearly always possessed a deeper layer of irony or melancholy.
For Home and Dry, a forlorn tale of the loneliness of long-distance love, the back-up musicians encircled Tennant to accompany him as a mini-choir.
On Love Comes Quickly, Pet Shop Boys updated another early hit into the contemporary club age, with a sultrier synthesised backdrop.
The stage visuals ran from bright illuminated balloons to projections of pink-and-psychedelic revolving cubes.
But the show focused on the music rather than the theatrics, with none of the wild choreographed routines or animal costumes that characterised Pet Shop Boys’ previous Electric tour.
In evidence of the dedication to the music, Tennant abruptly stopped one of the new tracks, TwentySomething, noticing that a keyboard patch had gone awry.
“There’s no point doing it wrong,” Tennant said, noting wryly a lyric he had just sung: “Life is much more simple when you’re young.” – AFP