Liam Rudden: They call them The Pop Kids
THREE decades plus - that's how long Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have been making music. Now that makes me feel old.
The most successful pop duo in UK music history, they burst on the scene in 1984 with West End Girls, actually, they didn’t so much ‘burst’ into the public consciousness than introduce themselves politely - they’d been around since 1981.
It wasn’t until a new version of what would become their signature song was released in 1985 that the charts took notice – West End Girls reached No 1 in both the UK and USA the following year.
On 24 March 1986 ‘The Boys’ unveiled their first album, Please. To mark the 30th anniversary of that release, which contained hits like Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money), Suburbia, and Love Comes Quickly, Edinburgh University hosted a two-day symposium – a word deserving of being the title of a Pet Shop Boys album, if ever there was one - to reflect academically on the duo’s work.
For £100 a ticket, you could immerse yourself in lectures such as ‘Between revivalism and survivalism: The Pet Shop Boys’ New York City Boy, disco pastiche and the haunting of AIDS’...
I opted instead to head along to Promo, an 80-minute selection of their videos, shown at the Filmhouse.
I must admit to being pleasantly impressed at the sheer cinematic quality of the early ones - each a self-contained, multi-layered tale with so much more to see when viewed on the big screen.
Afterwards, I was invited to a Pet Shop Boys disco at the Wee Red Bar, the following night.
Looking around, trying (and failing) to work out the collective age of the audience, I joked: “A Pet Shop Boys Disco!?! What time does it start 8pm? And I bet it’s over by midnight.”
“No,” came the reply, “It starts 7pm and is done by 10pm”.
Remember what I said about feeling old? Secretly, I was quite pleased. Can’t really do late nights anymore. As it happens, I didn’t go anyway. ‘Discos’ are for kids.
Not that age seems to stop Neil and Chris. At 61 and 56 respectively they are currently producing some of the best pop around.
Super, their 13th studio album, is released on Friday and from what I’ve heard, they are firing on all cylinders.
No doubt the reason for the tongue-in-cheek title of their new single... The Pop Kids.