Photo by Alasdair McLellan.
Towers of white cubes loomed over the audience as the lights went down and the curtains were pulled back. Through doorways in the towers emerged Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. The Pet Shop Boys were on stage, wearing coloured cubes on their heads. Launching into ‘Heart’, their 1988 number one, the duo and their backing dancers (also cube-headed) whipped the crowd into a frenzy of excitement before the chorus had even begun. Various members of the crowd could be heard excitedly saying, “Oh my God, I LOVE this one!”
This giddy state of enthusiasm showed no signs of waning what so ever throughout the show. Hit after hit was performed with elaborately choreographed routines from the extremely talented group of dancers, adding a real sense of theatre and drama to the show. At the end of ‘Building A Wall’, whilst I was taking notes on the show, an overly excited man poked me in the ribs and shouted, “I’ve seen the Pet Shop Boys three times and this is an important bit, watch!”. As we looked up, the towers of white cardboard toppled backwards to reveal an enormous wall of cubes surrounded by platforms and steps whilst strobe lights near blinded the audience.
Further exclamations of “Oh my God, I LOVE this one!” greeted ‘Two Divided By Zero’ and its follow up ‘New York City Boy’ in which the four backing dancers were dressed up as New York City buildings. This was the only point in the night that keyboardist Chris Lowe dropped his serious side-stage persona and broke into an aerobics style ‘running-man’ alongside the dancing buildings.
The impressiveness of the stage production, designed by Es Devlin who has previously worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and English Touring Opera, is almost matched by the impressiveness of the outfit changes by the dancers and the duo. From the cubed heads and immaculate tuxedos to mirrored jackets and feathered hats, the Pet Shop Boys were dressed to impress.
By far the best costume change came when the pair began their cover of Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’ and Neil Tennant strolled onstage in a cloak and crown to sing the song of a deposed King. When ‘It’s A Sin’ was finally performed, the sense of euphoria was pulsating through the room. As it came to an end, canons of confetti exploded into the crowd as the Pet Shop Boys left the stage to prepare for an encore.
After an almost two hour set the duo had only two songs left to fill an encore; the beautiful ‘Being Boring’ and the dark anthem ‘West End Girls’. The crowd was hoarse by this point but sang anyway, the 80’s synth supremo’s had hit after hit to play and each and every one was greeted with, “Oh my God I LOVE this one!”