BOUNCING, banging and brilliant, Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe returned to The Playhouse last night for the first time in 15 years and demonstrated why they are deserving recipients of the NME Godlike Genius Award.
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Holding a 3000 capacity audience in thrall for nearly two hours, the show featured state of the art projection, dazzling lasers and a hypnotic light-show which mesmerised as a raft of favourites, old and new, ensured that Pop Kids, both on and off stage, had a night to remember.
Pet Shop Boys have always been as concerned about their visuals as their music and their Super Tour, designed and staged by Es Devlin and choreographer Lynne Page, is a spectacular creation.
With pulsating dance-track Inner Sanctum opening proceedings, a roar of appreciation greeted Tennant and Lowe as they were revealed, incongruous head wear firmly in place and tongues firmly in cheeks.
A blistering few numbers that included “some 80’s electro” in the form of In The Night, best known as the theme to The Clothes Show, set the tone for what was to come. Talking of clothes, with head wear removed, Tennant’s smart black and white suit juxtaposed Lowe’s casual attire, including the signature cap and shades.
Creating a cathedral of synth pop as the tempo soared, Lowe bobbed in time behind his keyboards (still not smiling) as Tennant’s alluring drawl combined with the music and visuals making it impossible not to be drawn into the landscape of their surreal Wonderland.
If ever evidence were needed that Pet Shop Boys’ gigs are so much more than just a concert, last night did just that. A full-on theatrical production, it was a glorious sensory overload.
Tennant and Lowe’s songs tell stories, many reflect the world in which they live – for The Dictator Decides, they must have had a crystal ball.
As Tennant sang, “My facts are invented, I sound quite demented,” the poignancy of the lyrics could have been lost on few.
Supported by Afrika Green, Christina Hizon and Simon Tellier, juggling percussion, keyboards, electric violin and additional vocals between them, well-loved songs took on a new beefed-up life.
Going all the way back to their first album, Tennant himself too enjoyed a rare stint behind the keyboards for Love Comes Quickly.
A faithful rendition of West End Girls (the one that started it all 30 odd years ago), meanwhile, brought memories flooding back.
Ramping up the volume, a series of good old-fashioned party-bangers lifted things up a notch, setting the scene for the high energy finale that included It’s a Sin, Go West and a pumping new version of Always On My Mind in a dazzling display of showmanship and, well, godlike genius.