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Concert Review: Pet Shop Boys

Last year I wrote about our NIN and System of a Down concert experiences here in Seattle. Lest everyone think I'm only into the loud headbangy stuff, we ventured off to see the Pet Shop Boys in concert last weekend. This time the concert was at the Paramount Theater instead of Key Arena, which definitely provided for a more intimate atmosphere. Vera and I also decided it was time to stop acting old and actually buy floor tickets. On the plus side, this meant getting closer to the stage and no worries about standing in front of people who didn't want to actually move to the music. On the minus side it meant dealing with tall women wearning giant dunce gaps and blocking our view, and fending off at least one slimy, sweaty, drunken guy who was either hitting on me or Vera or both, we couldn't quite tell.

There was no opening act, which mirrored the experience we had at our last PSB concert which we saw down in San Francisco during the Release tour. Apart from that, however, the show was quite different. On their previous tour, they were in seriously stripped down mode, just the two of them on stage, and Neil really the only thing to pay attention to. This time around, they brought along a troupe of backup singers/dancers to add some more visual interest to the proceedings. It was for the most part choreographed and costumed in a droll sort of over-the-top seriousness with tongue firmly in cheek. Definitely a lot of fun to watch.

I was especially surprised to hear at the very beginning when Neil shouted "Hello, Seattle ... We've waited 21 years to say that!" Apparently, they had never been to Seattle before. Which explains why I was getting a lot of interest in my T-shirt from the previous tour, and why I didn't see anyone else wearing one.

Overall, the guys covered their extensive catalog pretty well. I've actually been a Pet Shop Boys fan since their first album, well before I was even into any kind of electronic music, so it was especially nice to hear a lot of tracks from Please and Actually. They opened with "Psychological" from the new album, which was fitting and a lot less obvious than "The Sodom And Gomorrah Show" would have been as an opener. A bit later on, they did a nice segue between their new spelling song "Minimal" and their original spelling song "Shopping", with a cool animated backdrop.

The biggest surprise in the concert was the sudden downtempo performance of "Dreaming of the Queen" from Very, done with hat in hand before a giant projected image of Diana's funeral. I happen to love that song (and "The Theater" from the same album), so it was quite a nice switchup during the performance, and did the song justice.

The absolute highlight of the show was their new song "Integral" -- definitely my favorite track off the new album, eminently danceable, and the crowd was totally into it. They almost hit that high again during the encore of "It's a Sin", but it didn't quite reach the same level.

It's been a week, let's see if I can remember the songs they played:

Nothing from Behaviour or Nightlife, but I guess you can't have it all. :) I'm sure I missed one or two from that list.

Once again, a great show. With this being our second Pet Shop Boys show, they join the elite cadre of bands we've seen multiple times (along with Depeche Mode, They Might Be Giants, Rush, Tori Amos).

The only minor gripe I have has to do with merchandising: I'm perfectly willing to fork over the obscene prices for a concert T-shirt ... but it has to at least indicate that it is a concert T-shirt. If it looks like something I can buy off the web, I'll buy it off the web for much cheaper, thank you very much! I left empty-handed.