“You’ve got the brawn, I’ve got the brains, let’s make lots of money” was the anti-Thatcher mantra that mechanised its way through Opportunities, Pet Shop Boys’ ‘greed isn’t good’ satire back in the 1980s. The irony above ironies being that Tennant/Lowe have earned more filthy lucre from the song’s subsequent use in television than they ever did on record. Hell, the BBC even used it in their report announcing the death of Mrs T. herself. Perhaps that was the idea all along. Now that’s what I call ennui.
Another paradoxical point about this pioneering pair is that they refused to tour their ‘early stuff,’ chiefly because they stood to lose a fortune by insisting on only performing as a part of a multi-million mega stage show. But with the Pets’ record sales in nosedive mode, try keeping them from treading those boards now and you’d probably be sent to stand in the corner of some vast arena with a pointy hat on.
As usual, it’s a costume spectacular of deadpan Dadaism – mirrorball helmets, stilts and pogoing Yetis straight out of a 1960s episode of Doctor Who, but with just two – yes, two – dancers plus the conical brothers themselves, the deviant disco often looks extremely empty, with a feeling of not very much happening on stage other than a few so-so projections and a bit of banging strobing (reclaiming I’m Not Scared, not performed for over 20 years, was certainly a cross-crossing highlight in more ways than one). There’s just far too much of Neil just walking around a big empty stage while the unexceptional dancers wear a succession of outlandish headgear. Less cardboard, more dead wood.
Cut and paste shortcuts aside, I doubt PSB will worry too much; Neil is 59 this month and probably feels it. The last time I interviewed the dynamic duo, he told me his favourite tour Pet Shop Boys had ever staged was 1994′s Discovery, which didn’t come to the US or Europe. His reason? “It was cheap and cheerful shit entertainment.”
Couldn’t have put it better myself.