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NAJM Music PET SHOP BOYS NIGHTLIFE TOUR

Opening Night October 20, 1999 Miami Beach, Florida - Jackie Gleason Theatre of the Performing Arts   8:00 pm

Return to Dance Culture Home Page As the old saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Unfortunately, this melodramatic, stale, overpriced opening night for the “Nightlife 2000” tour could have coined the phrase.

Staged nearly 10 years after the PSB first opened of their ill-fated false start of their first North American tour at the James L. Knight Center in Miami, FL (the Boys apparently forgot that the UK runs on different voltage than we do here in the US and had to reschedule the opening night); it’s still apparent that while Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are studio masters, they could use some coaching in the performance area. But at least this time, the boys came with the proper electrical adapters!

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act 1

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dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)The concert began with loud static noises sequenced to projected green amplitude waves on a scrim concealing the stage. A good five minutes later (too much later) the PSB finally started the show with a single from their new album entitled “Nightlife” which hits stores in the US November 17, 1999).
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)As the song started, cheesy 3-D images of the boys were projected onto the scrim and rotated meaninglessly for the entire length of the song. For an opening number, particularly on an opening night, the song wasn’t particularly strong. However, more irritating than that was the fact that 10 minutes into this concert- we still had no PSB sighting! I can see this concept used on an album cover, but it didn’t build any intended anticipation. It’s obvious that the Boys are technologically superior to most music groups, but that only takes you so far.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)Launching directly into a slightly updated “West End Girls” the Boys appeared wearing spiky hair (wigs) and black trench coats. It was apparent that the extremely eclectic crowd was completely in tune with the groove. The roar of approval following WEG was overwhelming. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, been there done that, where is the new material?
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)The concert then took a turn from bad to worse when the next three songs were performed as slow lifeless versions of hits gone by. They actually took some up-tempo songs like Discoteca and reduced them to Muzac! I can understand a creative reworking of material- but like a bad DJ clearing a dance floor, by the end of the third song- everyone (who was standing and dancing) quietly took their seats. “Being Boring” was in that set somewhere. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was certainly bored as they were being boring! I heard someone seated next to me ask if this was “their Senior Citizen Tour” as none of the music was hyped-up or the turbo charged UK sound that the group has been pumping out for more than a decade.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)The stage set was simple and reflective. It consisted of a single ramp that swooshed up to the right (kind of like the Nike logo). Towards the end of the concert, the dancers removed large front panels exposing some lights, and walked them off stage (perhaps preparing for their move to the next city?) The lighting was club quality and uncreative.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)My first indication that perhaps the tour did have some merit was the opening strains of “New York City Boy” currently charting on NAJM’s top-ten club rotation. Borrowing heavily from the Thunderpuss 2000 mix currently a smash in clubs, the Boys sampled several chords from the mix to give it that four on the floor, aggressive, grind sound. Fast paced video images of Times Square wizzed by on the scrim behind them. Strangely reminiscent of The Village People, joining the Boys on stage were 4 male dancers dressed in sailor suits, all of which will lose a few of their extra pounds by tours end (but did have excellent backing voices).
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)Probably one of the most poignant moments of the evening was when Neil Tennent introduced a projection of Dusty Springfield as “What Have I Done to Deserve This” began playing. The Boys did a special tribute to the late UK singer through the use of old Dusty Springfield concert footage from the sixties and a Dusty Springfield vocal track synchronized to their performance. A very fitting, beautifully executed tribute to an incredibly gifted artist.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)Ripping into “I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Anymore” sounded exactly as they do on the album version. No studio magic here, what you hear on the CD is what you get.
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intermission...

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dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)During intermission (have you ever been to a rock concert with an intermission?) we wandered up to see the goodies accompanying the show. What we couldn’t see (from our seats) was a large set of percussions on the left side of the stage. To the stage right, were the proverbial banks of audio gear including sequencers, banks of Akai samplers, etc. Chris Lowe played on two different Roland Keyboards, assumeably hooked up as midi controllers. We did notice a Nord keyboard in the background as well. The sound mixing boards and video projection controllers were spread out around the orchestra level of the theatre.
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act 2

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dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)The second act was more upbeat than the first. Stained Glass projections and dramatic cathedral sounds introduced “It’s a Sin”, sounding exactly as it was performed 10 years ago. It sounded dated, scratchy and uninspired, note to The Boys, new technology equals new sound don’t just dig out your previous sequences and expect us to buy it. It simply doesn’t impress us and doesn’t sell especially in the US.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)The Boys may have lots of technology, but they still like to get back to the basics. Picture Neil Tennant sitting on the stage strumming a 6-string guitar with the back-up singers seated around him, vaguely reminding one of the infamous GAP ads running on TV or a scene from the Mickey Mouse Club. The song was from their new album and was titled ironically, “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk”.  Halfway through the song, Neil hit a roadblock, or shall I say a note block, when he completely missed a starting note!  1… 2… 3…4 saved the day as he started again. Overall, a real treat to see the expansion from the familiar keyboards that graces the stage.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)One of their biggest hits stateside, “Always On My Mind” brought the crowd to its feet (the biggest reaction of the entire evening). Previously covered by U2 and originally written and recorded by Willie Nelson, this single remains one of the group’s greatest reworks.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)Bilingual is arguably one of the Boys better albums, but in my opinion only has one dud, Se A Vida A, so why subject us to this dull even more obscure non US hit? The few times we heard it on national radio was more than enough.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)“Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” (a song that I’ve never cared for) even brought me to my feet. Vowing to go use the restroom if it was played, I immediately changed my mind on hearing the intro. Briefly reworking the steady beat from the original to a more upbeat, alternative sound helped the piece!
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)Another song they performed off of their Nightlife album was “Vampires”. A weak repetitive song accompanied by a poorly modeled bat projection fluttering behind them on stage as the typical red lights and fog were employed.
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finale...

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dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)Neil finally got around to introducing us to his band at the second to last song. Giving introductions to his back-up singers, and stage managers, and Chris Lowe (who surprisingly enough did not mutter a single word throughout the entire set, but merely plunked away on his Rolands) it’s obvious by the screams that the real stars were the PSB. Finally interjecting a small amount of humor into their set, Neil announced that he and Chris wanted to thank everyone who had come to see them “instead of Ricky Martin” who was also opening his North American tour in Miami that same night; drawing hoots of laughter!
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)Launching into “It’s Alright” off the Introspect album was decent, but unmemorable and unchanged.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)The PSB closed their set with “Go West” as expected. Instead of a more upbeat sound as one should have expected, what we got was a steady beat putting one in mind of a march, directly out of the theatre. Towards the end of the song, their female backup singer broke into "I Will Survive" for no apparant reason. Perhaps this was their way of letting us know where the song originated from?
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conclusion...

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dot_clear.gif (43 bytes)Don’t get me wrong; this concert did have some merits. However, there were more disappointments than excitements. My biggest complaint was the lack of value of the concert. We shelled out $120 for a pair of tickets, and received $20 worth of entertainment (the price of a cd). Strangely enough their biggest obstacle is their lack of consistancy when it comes to the concert tempo and rhythm. Hopefully, by touring the US for the second time will give PSB the opportunity to develop the stage presence that fans appreciate and they lack. We recently visited the PSB’s home page and noticed several concert “adjustments” being made as they continue across America, so maybe those of you towards the end will see a decent show rather than the dress rehearsal we experienced.
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For more information on this tour, visit the PSB Home Page
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