Pet Shop Boys: Edinburgh legacy of Tennant and Lowe, from Fringe to watching Portaloos blowing along Princes Street

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From their debut album Please in 1986 to 2020's Hotspot, like many of my generation, Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have provided a soundtrack for our lives.

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Serendipitously, it was Pet Shop Boys who brought in my 50th year on the planet when they headlining Edinburgh's Hogmanay, seeing in 2014 with a set of timeless favourites. The last time they played the Capital, however, was in 2017 when they brought their Super Tour to the city, providing another 'bouncing, banging and brilliant' evening as I wrote in my review for the News. That gig wasn’t long after they received NME's Godlike Genius Award, at the Playhouse they demonstrated why they were worthy recipients.

Both Tennant and Lowe are no strangers to Edinburgh, in 2007 they slipped into town to watch Seriously: Pet Shop Boys Reinterpreted, a creative classical reworking of their songs in a theatrical setting at the Roxy Arthouse.

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Pet Shop Boys Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant  performing on the main stage during Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations on December 31, 2013   Pic Jane BarlowPet Shop Boys Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant  performing on the main stage during Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations on December 31, 2013   Pic Jane Barlow
Pet Shop Boys Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant performing on the main stage during Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations on December 31, 2013 Pic Jane Barlow

It was at the press show after party of that production that Chris told me about their first, aborted attempt to play Edinburgh's Hogmanay. They were meant to ring in 2007 only to see high winds cause the event to be cancelled at the last minute – “We watched the Portaloos blowing along Princes Street,” he recalled.

Their most recent visit to the Capital brought them back to the Fringe in 2019 for the opening of their new cabaret musical, Musik, but next week, as they return north for the only Scottish date of their Dreamworld: Greatest Hits Tour, all roads lead to Glasgow’s OVO Hydro for the Capital’s Petheads.

On Sunday, May 29, Pet Shop Boys will once again give their multi-generational fan base a live show with which many of the new kids on the block would struggle to compete.

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The tour, which will take them around the globe, started earlier this month in Europe and from the camera-phone footage already doing the rounds on social media that distinctive Pet Shop Boys' magic is still there, capacity crowds bouncing and singing along to classics like It's A Sin, Go West, Always On My Mind, while not forgetting Suburbia, Domino Dancing and Being Boring, possibly the most perfect pop song ever written. As always, the staging looks breath-taking.

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Never afraid to follow their own creative path, whether it be a musical theatre, film soundtrack, ballet or even making their own movie, the duo's fortunes may have waxed and waned over the decades but there is no doubt that now, as the elder statesmen of electronic pop, their legacy, like their popularity, has never been greater - when I last saw them in 2019, in London's Hyde Park, I was one of a capacity audience of 50,000. Massive.

There’s speculation on fan forums is that Dreamworld might be the Boys last big tour, I like to think they’ll continue to do their thing, perhaps not on such an exhausting schedule as their current tour and of course, when it comes to Edinburgh’s iconic Castle Concert series, they’re the hit makers that have got away, so far. Still have my fingers crossed. Hopefully if they ever do, the weather will be kind and Chris won’t find himself sitting watching Portaloos blowing down the Esplanade.

Tickets for Pet Shop Boys Dreamworld Tour are here.

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