There is something strange about the feeling you get when seeing the Pet Shop Boys in concert. It is almost like the time between now and 1986 never passed because their stage spectacle is so unashamedly hedonistic. The only element working against the illusion of being frozen in a decade is the age of the audience and the Pet Shop Boys themselves. Naturally, the PSB draws a mixed bag of people: Trannies, young effeminate gay men in tight pants and suspenders with long, wispy bangs, the middle-aged people who just want to hear "West End Girls," and older gay gentleman established enough to afford the pit section at the Greek.
The European overtones of the show were in full effect as dancers with square-shaped heads emerged for the crowd-pleasing opener "Heart," which transitioned much too quickly into "Did You See Me Coming?" off of their latest album Yes. After "Pandemonium" mixed with traces of "Can You Forgive Her?" the Pet Shop Boys slowed it down somewhat early in the show by performing "Love Comes Quickly," but then sagely picked up the mood again with the inoculable first single off of Yes, "Love, Etc.," the lyrics of which are something out of a fairy tale as Neil touts, "Don't have to be a big bucks Hollywood star/Don't have to drive a super car to get far/Don't have to live a life of power and wealth/Don't have to be beautiful but it helps." If only there were a shred of veracity somewhere in there, but it is perhaps the only attempt the Pet Shop Boys make at letting go of the eighties philosophy of excess and emptiness held in other songs like "Two Divided By Zero" or "Domino Dancing," both also included in the set list.
For some reason, the crowd went wildest when the duo performed "Go West," one of the worst singles they've ever put out. Maybe it had something to do with being in L.A. though. Actually, it was the PSB's only nod to the west coast in the entire show. Most of their songs, "New York City Boy" in particular, are geared toward the high-fashion, high-powered life of a New Yorker (pre-economic catastrophe of course). There are some songs where L.A. is mentioned casually, as in "The Way It Used To Be," when Neil mentions one of the lovers in the song getting "Culver City blues" or in "Love, Etc." when both Hollywood and Beverly Hills are referred to. At least you have to admire them for their specificity, but I won't be truly convinced that they give a shit about L.A. until they start using Echo Park in their lyrics.
In total, the synthpop dup performed twenty-two songs, some brilliantly executed, others severe blunders in judgment (namely the cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida"). The dash and daringness of The Pet Shop Boys is still just as strong as it ever was though, evidenced by singing "King's Cross," a slow jam with little fan appreciation. Another standout moment was the interpretive dancing of "Jealously." Don't get too excited though because it wasn't Neil and Chris doing the spurned lovers dance, but two backup dancers clad in bright red (for symbolic effect naturally).
Toward the end of the show, Neil uttered one of about three sentences said all night: "Thank you for this wonderful, hot evening at the Greek!" No matter the somewhat callous stage presence. Any faults were forgiven when the encores, "Being Boring" and "West End Girls," were performed, the former of which was actually preferable. They emerged to sing "Being Boring" in garish party hats as Neil delivered his lushest vocals of the evening to say "I never dreamt that I would get to be/The creature that I always meant to be/But I thought in spite of dreams/You'd be sitting somewhere here with me."
When it was over, I was left missing "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" and "Flamboyant," but I have no doubt the next tour will include some of the tracks overlooked in favor of promoting the Yes album. And there will be another tour--if the Pet Shop Boys' Pandemonium Tour is any indication of the flagrant stage/musical adventurousness to come.