×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pet Shop Boys

The Pet Shop Boys' highly theatrical concert was divided with calculated neatness, placing 10 hard-edged familiar tracks in the first 50 minutes and using the post-intermission spread for a far wider palette. The set ncludeded their new standout single "New York City Boy," which may well be the first song of the 1990s with a heavy debt owed to the Village People.

With:
Band: Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe, Peter Schwartz, Danny Cummings, Sylvia Mason-James, Keith Fluitt, Steve Abram, John James, Billy Cliff Newkirk.

“New York City Boy,” the new single from the Pet Shop Boys, may well be the first song of the 1990s with a heavy debt owed to the Village People. Camped up on stage by the presence of four male dancers in sailor outfits, the song follows the disco dogma of steady beats and a simple repeated melody enhanced with sexual imagery, yet its design is oh-so modern that it borders on precious. A standout in a career-spanning evening, “New York City Boy” gets it legs from its blatancy, making it capable of withstanding the relentless onslaught of hard and heavy beats, which hindered the subliminal aspects of the Boys that have made them so endearing for 15 years.

The highly theatrical concert was divided with calculated neatness, placing 10 hard-edged familiar tracks in the first 50 minutes and using the post-intermission spread for a far wider palette. The tone for both segs was set immediately through lighting, instrumentation and costuming. Concert’s opening was a series of green video snow projected onto a giant white sheet accompanied by pounding scratchy electronic blips.

From there, PSB banged out the hits — “West End Girls,” a sprawling “Being Boring,” “Left to My Own Devices,” and “What Have I Done to Deserve This” with a video of the late Dusty Springfield projected on an enormous diagonal sheet behind singer Neil Tennant — emphasizing songs with dense, suffocated beats and uncompromising structure. This part of the program, executed with enchanting coldness, seems to lack any room for change or expansion; night after night, it must be exactly the same.

Part two quickly took a humanistic turn as Tennant, who entered in white windbreaker and slacks after performing the first set in a black trenchcoat, a striped skirt and blonde wig of spiked hair, took out an acoustic guitar for the new “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk.” Seated on the six-foot-high platform that occupied much of the middle of the stage, he was surrounded by his backup singers-dancers dressed in jumpsuits, patterning their communal semi-circle after a late ’60s variety TV show look.

Part of the Pet Shop Boys’ attraction has been the deceptiveness with which they tackle issues; in this case the troubling sentiment of “You Only Tell Me” is clouded by superficial eye candy rather than a dance beat, which may be their most subversive act yet.

After all, if the Village People can be a influence, why not the Fifth Dimension, which seemingly would not be out of place in the hands of Tennant and his keyboard partner Chris Lowe. Add to it, the slightly clumsy moves of the dancers who were calculatedly out of synch — and reveling in it on numbers such as the Latin-tinged “Se A Vida E.” It certainly provided an air of emotional attachment to the music.

The evening reached a dramatic conclusion with “It’s a Sin.” Lowe and Tennant, singing in front of a backdrop of stained glass that included the musicians’ images, began the ’88 chart-topper with an organ solo ripped from someone’s “Mass” and concluded with Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” On certain levels it was incongruous and absurd, but surrounded by dramatic lighting, the melting electronics and the deadpan delivery of Tennant, logic and distinction permeated the perf.

PSB has made its mark as a great singles band and its rare tours deepen its credentials as a formidable act. While the new Sire/London album “Nightlife,” released Tuesday, extends the specific sound band members have worked for 15 years, it ventures into other dance music forms that have held little sway with PSB over the years. On a track like “Vampires,” which kicked off part two Monday, the conviction that drives “New York City Boy” is not only lacking, it surprisingly demonstrates how much of a niche PSB has carved and how smart it is to stick to it.

Pet Shop Boys

Universal Amphitheatre; 6,251 seats; $33 top

Production: Presented by Universal Concerts. Reviewed Nov. 1, 1999.

Cast: Band: Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe, Peter Schwartz, Danny Cummings, Sylvia Mason-James, Keith Fluitt, Steve Abram, John James, Billy Cliff Newkirk.

More Music

  • Peloton Sued for $150 Million for

    Peloton Sued for $150 Million for Using Drake, Lady Gaga Music Without License

    A group of publishers including Downtown Music Publishing, Pulse Music Publishing, ole, peermusic, Ultra Music, Big Deal Music, Reservoir, Round Hill, TRO Essex Music Group and The Royalty Network filed a lawsuit against Peloton for infringement of more than a thousand musical works, according to a statement from the National Music Publishers Association. The plaintiffs are [...]

  • Brandi Carlile,Maren Morris. Brandi Carlile and

    ACM Awards Add Brandi Carlile, Kelly Clarkson, Dan + Shay to Performance Lineup

    Brooks & Dunn had a hit once called “Put a Girl In It,” and that’s just what the Academy of Country Music Awards have done, adding Kelly Clarkson, Brandi Carlile and Ashley McBryde to the lineup of performers for the April 7 telecast on CBS. While they’re at it, they also added Brooks & Dunn, [...]

  • Phil Anselmo New Zealand Concerts Canceled

    Phil Anselmo Concerts in New Zealand Canceled Over ‘White Power’ Remarks

    In the wake of the terrorists attacks on mosques in New Zealand last week, concerts in the country by former Pantera singer Philip Anselmo and his band the Illegals were cancelled due to statements he made in the past about “white power,” according to the New Zealand Herald. Anselmo was filmed giving a Nazi salute [...]

  • New Found Glory

    New Found Glory Reimagines 'This Is Me' for the Warped Tour Crowd (EXCLUSIVE)

    Remember the plot of “Be Kind, Rewind”? Mos Def plays a video store clerk who, after its inventory of videocassettes is erased, sets out with Jack Black to reshoot movies such as “Ghostbusters” and “Rush Hour 2” in the streets of Passaic, N.J. That idea — minus the wacky Fats Waller subplot — resonated with [...]

  • David Furnish, Bryce Dallas Howard, Taron

    'Rocketman': Paramount Previews Footage of Elton John Biopic

    “Rocketman” is ready for lift off. Paramount Pictures threw a cocktail party Monday night to preview 15 minutes of the upcoming Elton John biopic, set for release on May 31, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the legendary rock club where John made his U.S. debut nearly 50 years ago. The footage featured pieces of [...]

  • Songtrust’s Joe Conyers III Slams Streaming

    Songtrust’s New Chief Strategy Officer, Joe Conyers III, Slams Streaming Services’ CRB Appeal

    Songtrust, the digital rights-management platform cofounded by Downtown Music Publishing’s Justin Kalifowitz, today announced that Joe Conyers III has been elevated to Chief Strategy Officer. According to the announcement, as co-founder and GM of Songtrust for the past eight years, Conyers has led the company from prototype to servicing over 20,000 publishers to collect their [...]

  • J BalvinJ. Balvin in concert at

    J. Balvin, Ozuna, Deadmau5 Among New Artists Launching 2019 Vegas Residencies

    The list of artists heading to Vegas this year is getting a little longer. Reggaeton stars J. Balvin and Ozuna and DJ heavyweights Armin van Buuren, Deadmau5 and Eric Prydz are among the new artists who have announced residencies this spring at the Palms Casino Resort. The performers join previously announced residencies by Cardi B, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content