Concert Review: Pet Shop Boys

The Joint, Oct. 11


Photo by Chase Stevens

In the distant future, our progeny will recognize 2013 for what it is: a watershed year for epic disco records by geeky white boys. It has produced Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, Capital Cities’ Safe and Sound, Arcade Fire’s Reflektor and too many others to name. It is a new world—one whose coming the Pet Shop Boys predicted 27 years ago, when they named their first remix album Disco and then immediately stepped into a time machine set for what they hoped would be a more enlightened age. Well, here we are.

Fittingly for conquering heroes, the Pet Shop Boys’ Electric world tour is a victory rally, and a splendidly theatrical and energetic one at that. From the moment Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe took the stage in human porcupine outfits—just one of several costume sets, specially designed for the tour by Jeffrey Bryant—you knew you were in for something just above extravagance, and the Boys really delivered. For nearly two hours, we got the works: lasers, strobe lights, dancers in bull headdresses stomping around to Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” There wasn’t a moment of the show where there wasn’t something wonderful to look at.

Or to dance to. While the duo’s current album Electric is a solid piece of work (Douglas Wolk of Pitchfork rightfully called it “their most immediate, jubilant record in at least a decade”), they only played four songs from that album in the set, including a joyous mashup of “Vocal” with 1989’s “It’s Alright.” The rest of the set covered the hits (“West End Girls,” “It’s a Sin” and “Suburbia” were all present), the should’ve-been hits (“Integral,” “I’m Not Scared” and “Love Etc.”), and even a few covers, including their massive versions of “Go West” and “Always on My Mind,” and a short, sweet version of “Somewhere” from West Side Story.

Are the Pet Shop Boys saying we’re due for an ultimate Year of Showtunes? Let’s put a bookmark in this and check back in 27 years. ★★★★★