On 15 February, Pet Shop Boys are set to release Pandemonium Live, The O2 Arena, London, less than two months after the event. It's a canny move. Last year's tour confirmed that the Boys seem to have refound themselves. Who would ever have predicted that New Order, those other great stalwarts of '80s pop, would now be supporting PSB - in the form of Bad Lieutenant - rather than the other way around?
Barely scraping the Top 40 with their hugely enjoyable Christmas EP would have been a disappointment for PSB, but what better way to see out 2009 than by closing the year with a hugely entertaining show at the 23,000-capacity O2. Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant seemed in their element; Lowe performing a little jig of pleasure after a short keyboard interlude, while rarely can a performer have looked as happy and relaxed as Tennant throughout a two-hour set.
The evening packed in so many hits that the audience felt slightly exhausted only 40 minutes in; a fiftysomething male singer, another chap behind a keyboard and four dancers kept the place spellbound (with a wonderful set and projections). As well as every hit you could hope to hear (though no So hard, unfortunately), there were a number of tracks from Please, their 25-year-old first album, remodelled to sound completely fresh, and even a b-side, the lovely Do I have to? (If you get a chance, it's worth digging up Inga Humpe's version, produced by Trevor Horn, on her 1990 album Planet Oz, which is available on iTunes.)
As well as the support from Bad Lieutenant, there were other hints of the '80s here: the blue and red-clad dancers who appeared for opener Heart were reminiscent of the battling figures in New Order's True Faith video, while Tennant's crown and robes for Coldplay cover Viva la vida could only recall Anton Corbijn's equally celebrated promo for Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode. Just replace the umbrella with a deckchair to complete the look.
It's common for French music stars to alternate albums of new material with a recording of the subsequent tour. When you're largely limited to the French-speaking world, it's a common-sense way to increase your revenue. I wonder if Pet Shop Boys have taken this model for the forthcoming DVD/CD release, and decided to maximise their fan appeal. As a band who seem to have rediscovered their time, you can't blame them.
Thanks, Jen, for the pic.