My father, who drove me to this show in Bournemouth, was already baffled when I said I’d bought this ticket. At least until he remembered – I’m Nick Pollard. I bought this ticket all the way back in July 2016 at a ridiculously high sum. I have managed to keep this a secret from most (until now anyway). Where I have decided to fib about ticket prices before, so not to reveal to Mum and Dad just how much money I was throwing around, even the fictitious price seemed a bit steep for one glaring reason – it was Pet Shop Boys. I mentioned the show a few times, such as posting on Facebook that my ticket had arrived, only to ponder “when the hell did I buy a Pet Shop Boys ticket?”. Well, I did.
Oh, and I’m very glad that I did, as the synthpop duo were more brilliant than many would have thought they have any right to be. I would have thought the same. When they toured their albums Elysium and Electric from 2011 to 2013, the glowing reviews rolled in for the blinding glow stage show. Overcome by my fetish for lasers, I just had to see them on their Super tour. Watching a couple of clips from their Inner Sanctum show meant that I couldn’t resist it any longer – I had to see this vomit-inducing show for myself.
There were an amazing array of lasers shot around the arena and it might battle Bloc Party for being the harshest with its strobe lights. A projector screen behind them was immersed in colour from the beginning, and a few songs in, three more masked performers appeared onstage, out of nowhere. To begin with, I thought that I had missed their arrival because I was so distracted by everything else. Then I realized that they were behind a translucent screen, which dropped a couple of songs later, and they were fully revealed, and the images projected onto the back wall. Now that he is bald, I think they should start projecting things with Neil Tennant’s head.
I think that what irritated me most about the show was that in spite of being loud and energetic dance music, waiting to be jumped around to, the show was seated. Just, why? Take a look at this video of the very same show, staged at a Chilean music festival (showing their brilliant entrance at 2:00. While it doesn’t have the same effect from the angle it was filmed, this looked amazing. The images were projected in such a way that the two circles at the front of the stage, blended into the background. As a result, Tennant and Lowe seemed to appear out of nowhere).
Just feel that atmosphere. At the BIC, there was an aura of unease, as you just knew that lots of people were desperate to dance. I think even I did. If it were a standing show, I’d probably have been jumping around and singing along to the hits. Then it dawned on me what the problem was – I felt like one of very few people not to be with a parent, who was under the age of 40. A few people gave in, sadly including a mad woman in front of me, so I had no choice but to stare at her bum for the full duration of ‘West End Girls’. I mentioned to the man to my left, who couldn’t see either, how I was stuck behind a 6’8” guy at Feeder, only for the mad lady to overhear, and guiltlessly interject – “that’s my width!”. Oh, ha-ha. No problem. You have just engulfed the band’s biggest hit for the guy behind you, who had paid £65 (shh…) to be there, with your arse.
The BIC is a brilliant place to watch an amazing light show, but the least practical to dance at, otherwise it resembles a mad aunt at a theatre, dancing and singing along to Mamma Mia, rather than just a fun concert. It’s no fault of the show itself, but it did detract from it a smidgeon.
Something that nobody would believe, but I maintain is the case, was that in spite of their connection with gay culture, and the flamboyance of Neil Tennant (and in particular, his voice), the show itself wasn’t especially camp. There was nothing especially effeminate about it. Sure, it was very colourful and positive, but it wasn’t along the lines of when I witnessed Erasure, who had dancers, and the show was under an ocean of pink light. The Pet Shop Boys visual show could have catered for any dance act regardless of sexuality, but Pet Shop Boys weren’t going to bring in the younger audience for one glaring reason – they are Pet Shop Boys.
Either way, it was absolutely brilliant, and if they pop by again, I might not be able to resist seeing them again. They might be in their early sixties, but needn’t be especially active onstage.The Guardian referred to Chris as “possibly more famous for not doing anything than almost anyone else in the history of popular entertainment” (subsequently now being my idol), so as far as I’m concerned, they have no excuses for the time being!