Ever since the first announcement of this PET SHOP BOYS concert, I really resolved to watch it as this duo is one of my favorite acts from the 1980s. Their greatest hits CD "Discography" is on constant repeat in my car back then, and even now, if the mood hits me. It was back in 1985 when we first heard the unusual style they had on their debut single and first hit song, "West End Girls," which went all the way to Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Like the Tears for Fears concert, I thought this concert will also be as highly-anticipated by the 80s college set.
Unfortunately, that was not really what happened tonight. The Smart Araneta did not fill up as I was expecting. By 8 pm, there were still a lot of vacant seats. Most people were up in the Upper Box B area. The General Admission was even closed off maybe because of poor sales. By 8:30 pm, the Patron seats looked better as more fans trickled in. There was no front act. When the lights were killed and the coliseum was in pitch black darkness, we knew it was already going to be main act.
Right from the very beginning, we knew this was going to be more than an event for our ears. This was also very much a dazzling feast for the eyes as well. The video screen in front of the stage first had a vertical orange line which eventually morphed into a cone, then into a tube where two figures were walking through. This is it!
Trippy images from last night's concert (photo care of Harry Hawson)
The first song "One More Chance/Face Like That" was not familiar, but that thin high-pitched voice of Neil Tennant and the synthesizer style of Christ Lowe were unmistakably very familiar. The second song was one of their earlier hits, the top ten song "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)". In that song, the screen fell to the stage, and we finally saw Tenent and Lowe in the flesh. Tennant is much bulkier with a bald head already. We still do not see much of Lowe's face, as it was before.
After that hit, a long series of unfamiliar songs followed, but the beats were so catchy and dance-able as their known songs. Throughout this stretch, we would be regaled by some pretty awesome light displays which bathed the whole coliseum with strobe and laser lights of different colors and designs. On stage, there would be dancers with bull-like head gear prancing around. The PSB knows they cannot stage a show with only the two of them, this concert was going to be a totally immersive experience of light and sound.
After the minor hit with a memorably long title "I Wouldn't Normally do this Kind of Thing", the audience rose to their feet for the first time when we heard the first note of "Suburbia"! That song is only a low charting single in the US, not even hitting the Top 40, but here it is BIG!
Following that, there were unfamiliar songs again, including a cover of a Bruce Springsteen original called "Last to Die." This was followed by a surprising cover of the famous "West Side Story" song, "Somewhere", done PSB-style. The next unfamiliar songs all deserved to be bigger hits because of their infectious beats, "Leaving," "Thursday" (with that catchy "stay for the weekend" chorus), "Love, Etc." and "I Get Excited."
The distinct intro strain of their 1987 hit "Rent" (SEE VIDEO) made the audiences very excited again. Then all the big hits came, and the audience was all on their feet dancing. It was started by "It's a Sin" (SEE VIDEO) then "Domino Dancing" (SEE VIDEO), their Village People cover "Go West", then their hit cover version of "Always on My Mind," which ended their regular set, with a release of glittery confetti all over the stage.
The lights remained off, so we knew it was not over yet and clamored for more. Their signature hit has not been sung yet! Sure enough, that was the first song of the encore set, "West End Girls"! They sang one last song which is I believe their latest single, "Vocal".
With that final song, this very artistic light design intensive concert came to an end. I am slightly disappointed that they did not play a couple of my favorite PSB hits, "Heart" and "What Have I Done to Deserve This". However, you would not believe that this is a old nostalgia act from the 1980s with the way this awesome, inventive, and entertaining show had been staged. Their concert title is certainly apt. This Pet Shop Boys concert was indeed ELECTRIC!