Pet Shop Boys at the Beacon Theatre.
Yes, another concert photo post! I go to a lot of concerts, but I don’t usually blog about them because it’s just much too much. In the past couple of months alone I’ve gone to see Adam Ant, Janelle Monáe, Depeche Mode, Public Enemy/LL Cool J/Ice Cube…and I have The Cure and Johnny Marr coming up right around the corner. There are few things in life that make me happier than going to concerts (I even wrote a list of concert-going tips), and in recent years I’ve been making a concerted effort to go see bands/artists I’ve liked for years but haven’t taken the initiative to experience live.
And so: Pet Shop Boys. I went to see them for the very first time Monday night at Beacon Theatre, and it was really an incredible night. I don’t have any local friends who are fans (or at least I don’t think I do!), so I managed to score a really good single ticket that was remaining between grouped blocks — 2nd row! As soon as the show started, I was able to just stand next to the stage, essentially making it a front-row kinda night (albeit more to the side of the stage than is ideal, but I’m not complaining). I’ve said it before, but it really does matter to me to be up close. I like to be fully immersed. When my friend Jenna and I went to see Depeche Mode a few weeks ago at the enormous Barclays Center in Brooklyn, we were so far up in the nosebleeds that we might as well have been watching in TV…but I degress.
I was completely and totally unprepared for what this concert turned out to be. It was performance art — scene after scene, with costume changes and dancers and a narrative thread running through the entire thing. It’s funny, Pet Shop Boys were HUGELY popular when I was in junior high (the reissue of “West End Girls” was a massive hit in the US around the time I was making friendship bracelets nonstop), but I didn’t really grow into becoming a fan until quite a few years later. Very (with its Pentagram-designed nubby-dotted orange cover) was released the same month I started college, and I fell into a crowd of British electronic dance-pop fans. It’s a phenomenal album, I’d argue it’s their best. Pet Shop Boys had always seemed much lighter to me than, say, New Order, but once I started listening to the lyrics — always frank to a fault; romantic and funny and sad but hopeful — and growing attached to Neil Tennant’s voice, my appreciation for their music was solidified.
Anyway, now that I’ve seen them live, I’m ashamed that I never let that appreciation develop into the kind of full-blown fandom that would’ve led me to buy tickets to a show a long time ago! It really was a spectacular performance. Seeing this show right on the heels of Depeche Mode makes me feel happy about all of the great new music that’s still being put out by the old school of electronic music.
Here’s a very short, badly-cut Instagram video:
WOWZA. I’m told by friends who have seen Pet Shop Boys many times in the past that this tour is nowhere near as visually extravagant their previous, which doubly fills me with regret for waiting so long. (Not that I felt disappointed, mind you!) As much as music is about, well, the music, it’s also about aesthetics for me, and I care about album packaging and presentation and all of that kind of thing. Seeing visual continuity between record sleeves, music videos, costuming and live performance is very exciting! I can only describe the whole thing as a kind of lush minimalism, if that’s possible, avant-garde without pretension (again, if that’s possible).
Pet Shop Boys are currently on tour in support of their latest album, Electric (produced by Stuart Price, who opened the show with a DJ set as his Jacques Lu Cont persona). If you have the inclination and the opportunity, GO. Even though I went to the show alone, I walked out really wishing that I’d had certain friends with me just because I know they would have loved the visuals and the ecstatic atmosphere…and the music too, of course.
Axis / One More Chance + Face Like That / Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) / Memory of the Future / Fugitive / Integral / I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing / Suburbia / I’m Not Scared / Fluorescent / West End Girls / Somewhere / Leaving / Thursday / Love Etc. / I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too) / Rent / Miracles / It’s a Sin / Domino Dancing / Always on My Mind // (Encore) Go West / Vocal