The Pet Shop boys might be getting old, but their music and live show is anything but tired. After an impressive music career that spans over moe than two decades, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are still going strong. During their tour stop in Atlanta last Thursday, the distinguished Brits offered flawless live renditions of their music and combined the musical performance with a clever, visually-engaging stage show and an entertaining cast of singers and dancers. (See my photos of the show at Flickr.)
Their "Fundamental" show is a lot more frivolous and colorful than the introverted set up of the "Release" show that I saw back in 2002. This makes perfect sense given the different concepts of both albums. (Click to read my 2002 interview with Neil Tennant in which he talks about "Release.")
Tennant introduced the evening as "a night of electronic entertainment" that would include "new songs, old songs and in between songs." It was the new songs and the in-between songs that made the thirty-something crowd hesitate quite a bit. It became painfully obvious that many people were not familiar with "Fundamental" and decided to cross their arms and sit back to hear these new songs as if it was a mass listening session.
But the Pet Shop Boys seemed prepared and spiced up the new tracks with old favorites, such as "Left To My Own Devices," "Rent," "West End Girls" and "Opportunities" that served as cues for people to get up and clap their hands.
Kudos to dancers Nathan Holliday and Ivan Blackstok, and background
vocalists Sylvia Mason-James, Andy Love and Nick Clow for warming up
the crowd. The chemistry
between them, Tennant and Lowe and the audience was infectious and really
made a difference. Especially given the fact, that Tennant and Lowe are
not the most vibrant performers. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The show included many different set ups that were created by
neon-lit, movable cubes on stage that created a unique backdrop for every song. Sets included dancers and singers in gold cowboy
outfits (yeehaa!) and gay-ish military constumes.
The show had two tender moments. The first one was the performance of the Pricess Diana tribute "Dreaming Of The Queen" that showed Diana's funeral carriage projected on the stage set. The other memorable performance was the acoustic set of "Home and Dry," a touching love song brilliantly played on guitar and sang by Tennant. Who could have thought that one of the highlights of a Pet Shop Boys concert was in fact a guitar-driven tune?
Also, notable was the glorious rendition of the crowd-favorite "Go West" and the compelling visual presentation of the new single "Numb" with the re-creation of a wintery Russia in the 1920's on stage including the dancers dressed as soldiers. A scene that was surely inspired by Pet Shop Boys' "Battleship Potemkin" project.
Pet Shop Boys "Fundamental" show is truly a stunning multimedia experience that includes dance, music, many stunning set stylings and a lot of humor. Instead of being a greatest hits homage to their own career, this show turned out to be much more of a tastemaker of what's to come.