So, The Pet Shop Boys. It's daunting to think that they've been going 30 years or so now. And one thing they've always been renowned for the theatricality of their live shows.
Last night they played the BIC, my local venue, to a packed house. And to say they didn't disappoint is an understatement.
I had slight trepidation when I booked the tickets. I'd seen footage of their show at the Glastonbury festival and thought they looked and rounded a bit tired.
However, last night's gig demonstrated the opposite was true. Neil Tennant might be packing a few extra pounds around the belly which made his ludicrously tight trousers all the more comical, but they delivered an amazing fresh and vibrant performance.
The main strength? Well, apart from the deadpan ironical humor that's always been part of the Pet Shop Boys' mythos coming through, they resisted the main temptation of gigging bands when they have a new album to promote - push the new tracks at the expense of the hits the audience has come to hear.
Last night the Boys did the opposite. A few new tracks were interspersed with the classics, but the main thrust of the show was playing hit after hit and classic tune after classic tune. From the opening Heart through to the closing West End Girls, they hammered almost every great tune from their decades in the business, be it Always on My Mind, What Have I Done To Deserve This (with a great tribute to the late Dusty Springfield), a barnstorming It's A Sin, complete with confetti cannons, Suburbia, Kings Cross, Being Boring, Jealousy, New York City Boy, Go West, Love etc, Two Divided By Zero, even a Coldplay cover slipped in, mixed with Domino Dancing and many medleys of classic tunes.
The staging was equally brilliant. Employing a stage covered in stackable white cubes, which alternately become video walls, dance platforms, or makeshift set pieces and barriers for performers to escape for costume changes. The duo were ably supported by four dancers (including a twins) who did and amazing job of filling the space with some amazing costume changes and the cube motif continuing as all the performers went through much of the show in box themed costumes, with boxes on their heads that looked both hilariously daft and amazingly stylized - a balance that the Pet Shop Boys have always deftly managed. The genuinely brilliant sense of design offset by the fact that it might be brilliant but it's also totally ridiculous too. It was one of those gigs where it was impossible to keep the smile off your face. And certainly when Chris abruptly stepped out from behind his bank of keyboards to do a brief dance routine. Or when the Boys entered with boxes on their heads to perform the first number. Brilliantly daft.
This all combined to create an amazing party atmosphere for the gig. I'd definitely rank it up there as one of the best live experiences of my life (although not quite up there with Madness and the day we made tower blocks dance).