First published: GuySpy, July 2013
“You’ve got the brawn, I’ve got the brains, let’s make lots of money” was the anti-Thatcher mantra that mechanised its way through ‘Opportunities,’ Pet Shop Boys’ ‘greed isn’t good’ satire back in the 1980s. The irony above ironies being that Tennant/Lowe have earned more filthy lucre from the song’s subsequent use in television than they ever did on record. Hell, the BBC even used it in their report announcing the death of Mrs T. herself. Perhaps that was the idea all along. Now that’s what I call ennui.
Another paradoxical point about this pioneering pair is that they refused to tour their ‘early stuff,’ chiefly because they stood to lose a fortune by insisting on only performing as a part of a multi-million mega stage show. But with the Pet’s record sales in nosedive mode, try keeping them from treading those boards now and you’d probably be sent to stand in the corner of some vast arena with a pointy hat on.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that, visually and conceptually, this rather static show is a huge compromise from what was originally planned. The original ‘Electric’ concept was scaled back very late in the process – primarily for financial considerations. However, what’s most surprising is how short the set is: 100 minutes versus 130 mins when they were last at the venue. Bearing this is mind, was there really a need to truncate or merge so many of the songs? Especially when they’re such classic crowd pleasers as ‘Rent,’ ‘I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing’ and the orchestral high energy of ‘Somewhere.’
Cut and paste shortcuts aside, I doubt PSB will worry too much; Neil is 59 this month and probably feels it. The last time I interviewed the dynamic duo, he told me his favourite tour Pet Shop Boys had ever staged was 1994′s Discovery, which didn’t come to the US or Europe. His reason? “It was cheap and cheerful shit entertainment.” Couldn’t have put it better myself.