November 6th, 2006

Shuffle 4

I can program a computer, choose the perfect time/If you've got the inclination, I've got the crime

Just got home from watching Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe rock the Paramount theatre in Seattle.

More ramble about it in the morning, I suspect, but the one observation from the show I'll make now is that the line for the men's bathroom at intermission wrapped up the stairway back to the lobby (probably a couple hundred people, I guess), while there was no noticable line for the women's bathroom.

Guh. I've got "Psychological" stuck in my head now, which they opened the show with. And that's really not my favorite track off the latest CD. I think "Integral" has to be my favorite, principally for the Big Brother/Industrial tone of the lyrics. It seems appropriately alarmist these days, or perhaps I've lost my appreciation for subtlety in my old age.

If you've done nothing wrong
You've got nothing to fear
If you've something to hide
You shouldn't even be here

You've had your chance
Now we've got the mandate
If you've changed your mind
I'm afraid it's too late

We're concerned
You're a threat
You're not integral
To the project
Shuffle 4

Pet Shop Boys: Fundamental Concert

Perhaps two months ago, a friend mentioned that he had scored tickets to the Pet Shop Boys concert. I was intrigued. I'm not much of a concert-goer, which is a blind spot, as I like music and I like theatre. Yet, I am for the most part disconnected from the live music scene.

Upon getting home from visiting said friend, I went to ticketmaster, and got a seat two rows behind my buddy. I didn't know the theatre, I wasn't sure what the fanbase was like, so I was eager to get a ticket before they sold out. Turns out, it wasn't a problem - the theatre was large, and the Pet Shop Boys don't draw quite as enthusiastic (Hit F5! Hit it more!) crowd as I was thinking.

So, we got to the theatre - Joe (who had brought the show to my attention), his wife Susan, and I. We bought our souvenir T shirts and got a program and found our seats. Nice seats, could have been slightly nicer had we paid more, but we were in the first few rows of the mezzanine, which was plenty good. I spent some time ogling the architecture, the fiddly golden ornamentation - considering what kind of entertainment the builders had in mind as they designed the space.

Onstage, there was a couch set up down stage right, which tipped me off that they'd be leading off with "Psychological". There was a structure center stage that reminded me of the apparatus in "The Prestige" that Hugh Jackman is seen using very early on in the movie. This was a large (20 feet on a side?) cube, which seemed to be displaying a projection of a cross section of a human brain. Like a CAT scan, or MRI or something.

As the lights came down, the CAT scan image was removed and we saw two shapes, one of a guy wearing a jacket with tails and a top hat, and another guy seemingly wearing bicycle gear. Ok, sure - that works, Tennant is the guy in the top hat, Lowe's wearing the biker cap. Sure. And then two figures emerged from the box through these silhouettes, which we now saw to be portals of some sort. A guy in a top hat, jacket and tails, and a guy in a biker cap and sweatshirt. Cool.

As these figures walked away from the box, two more figures emerged from the box. Same costumes. Huh? What are we looking at? One pair must be dancers in costume, I figure.

And then a third pair of figures in the same set of costumes emerges from around the sides of this 20 foot box. By now, we can tell that indeed, all four of the initial figures were dancers, and now the Pet Shop Boys had taken the stage.

The Lowe-3 figure took up his station at his keyboard, and the Tennant-3 figure took a mic and launched into Psychological. As I mentioned before, not a huge favorite of mine, but the performance was engaging. The next song was a hit that drew the audience in, those of us who hadn't been caught by the first song, anyway.

Tennant characterized the set list as an "evening of electronic entertainment", including "some new songs, some old songs, and some in between", which I think turned out to be a well-chosen balance. The one song I would have liked to have heard them perform which they didn't was "What Have I Done to Deserve This?", but they hit the rest of the hits that I was looking forward to, including "West End Girls", "Opportunities", "It's a Sin", "Always on my Mind", "Domino Dancing", "Heart", "Left to My Own Devices". I particularly liked the combination of "Minimal" leading into "Shopping", leading into "Rent". "Minimal" and "Shopping" both spell out their titles as parts of the song, which gave them a very similar feel (acknowledging that they might have gone to that well enough times now?), and then the progression into "Rent", which has a similar monetary focus to "Shopping".

The newer songs that they performed included "I'm with Stupid" (including Bush/Blair images projected onto the 20' cube, which makes the song seem political, though the lyrics don't have to be read that way), "Integral" (this one more obviously political and concerned about living in a world reduced to information), "Numb" (a nice waltz, though coming from a darker place than a lot of the music I'd like to take a woman around the floor to), "Se A Vida É" (moderately new, but one of their more up-tempo numbers), "Home and Dry" (with Tennant performing acoustic guitar), "Dreaming of the Queen", "Flamboyant", "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show".

This was their first performance in Seattle, and throughout the show they made obligatory nice remarks about how great a crowd we were. Right before their last song, Tennant thanked us for being such a good audience, and dedicated the final song to us - "Go West".

After the show, Joe, Susan, and I hung around the backstage doors to get autographs, joined with a couple dozen fans comfortable to wait in the drizzle. We despaired a bit when the pizza guy showed up with around 8 pizzas - I know how long it would take ME to eat 8 pizzas, so we didn't think anybody was coming out anytime soon. Maybe 20 minutes after that, they pulled a rental minivan around in front of the backstage door. A getaway vehicle? Where would they go in a minivan? Nope, it turns out, that was where they would be signing autographs - Tennant in the shotgun seat, and Lowe in the passenger seat behind him. Susan got her program signed. I was thinking I'd get my copy of the Fundamental CD insert signed, but it was mostly black, and I hadn't brought my silver Sharpie, so I got them to sign my concert T-shirt.

"Great show, thank you. Come back soon", I said to Tennant. He said something, I'm not sure I entirely parsed his words. There was a "Thank you" and I think I made out the word "theatre".

Set listing chart:
Article in "The Stranger":
Official PSB site: