Question: Does the world really need another comeback tour from the Pet Shop Boys? Answer: Yes, obviously. Twenty years after “West End Girls,” the great Eurotrash synth-pop duo rocked Radio City Music Hall on Saturday night, packing the house with Chelsea boys and girls. Neil Tennant wore a top hat and black tails, his dance moves so bad they were good. Chris Lowe wore a day-glo yellow hoodie and hid behind his keyboard, likely texting his mates, “omg its west end grlz agn brb.” They did Eighties hits like “Left to My Own Devices,” “Rent” and “Heartbeat,” featuring one of our all-time fave lyrics: “If I didn’t love you/I would look around for someone else.” When they did “Shopping,” it was disco heaven circa “˜87, with the whole crowd chanting the chorus: “We’re s-h-o-p-p-i-n-g/We’re shopping.” It was a stripped-down show, with hardly any stage props or glitz, no doubt inspired by last year’s amazing Erasure shows. The Boys did way too many songs from their recent disc, Fundamental, though “Integral” was a highlight. They did the worst song from their best album (“Can You Forgive Her,” from Very) and the best song from their worst (“Home and Dry,” from Release). They didn’t do “What Have I Done To Deserve This” or “New York City Boy,” but when Tennant said, “New York, you are fabulous,” the guy next to me screamed, “As are YOU, my man!” That was cool.
In their heyday, the Pet Shop Boys were the Interpol of the Eighties, dressing up to sing really weird pop songs about lust and loneliness in the big city. They’re low-pro now, not retro-worshipped in the manner of Depeche Mode, New Order, or The Cure, but you can hear the reason why–these guys are too sad. Not sad as in “my soul is a void unto the blankness,” or “my teachers don’t understand me,” but sad as in “I’m lonely and tired and old and my blind date didn’t show up and here I am drinking miso soup alone and I don’t even like miso soup and I keep checking my phone but nobody’s going to call.” Real sad. So the moments of release were oceanic, as in the climactic “Go West.” The best moment was the gorgeous “Home and Dry,” which Tennant played on acoustic guitar, a surrender of his disco principles. As soon as the song was done, a guitar roadie came and took Neil’s axe away–a hilariously rock-cliché gesture from a proudly non-rock-cliché band.