As regular Pop Junkie readers will know, I am a huge fan of the Pet Shop Boys, so I was thrilled to be invited to a special late-night club show by Messrs Tennant & Lowe – and all in the name of Smirnoff. Held at London’s Matter club at O2, the Smirnoff Experience employed an innovative format in which members of the public submitted ideas on various elements of the night – including the theme of the warm-up boat party, music via the DJ’s playlist and cocktails to be served – in return for a chance to be there. And if that wasn’t a good enough reason for a knees-up and plenty of, ahem, Domino Dancing, it was also Neil Tennant’s 55th birthday party.
For me, it was great to see the Pet Shop Boys, who are usually found camping it up in stadiums, in such an intimate venue. As if to emphasis the fact that they were returning to their nightclub roots, the boys opened their set with two rarely heard tracks from their debut album Please, namely Two Divided By Zero (love those ’80s computer voice samples and bleeps) and Why Don’t We Live Together – a throbbing disco-funk-soul-pop tune that is something of a lost PSB classic.
Neil Tennant was modelling a kind of futuristic cowboy look – more Westworld than West End Girls – and Chris Lowe wore his trademark cap, shades and shiny puffy designer jacket.
Things took a distinctly more populist turn for the remainder of the concert, which was basically a medley of three of their biggest hits – the HI-NRG reworking of Elvis’ Always On My Mind (still my favourite Christmas Number One), the Che Guevara and De Busssy to a disco beat that is Left To My Own Devices and showstopper West End Girls.
Add in a cool minimalist backdrop and lighting, plus some nifty dancers (including a pair of stunning blonde female twins) and you had a great night with one of the UK’s most entertaining and inventive pop acts close-up in disco heaven. (If you still need convincing of their genius, check out their in-depth track-by-track audio commentary on their new album Yes – it’s on Spotify and is highly entertaining and incisive.
It’s a shame that they only played for half an hour, but would I do it all again? If I was left to my own devices, I probably would.