Pet Shop Boys 25.5.2022 at the Bournemouth International Centre
I bought these tickets two and a half years ago in anticipation of a June 2020 gig. Then the plague came. You book these things looking at other events and gigs but now it’s all been shuffled. Well a Wednesday night isn’t so bad but I’m wondering why I bought these now. Curiosity, good tunes, the legendary syth-pop status and it’s on the doorstep…well a bus ride away.
We are quite late in, five minutes to spare before the 8pm start, to dodge the BIC bar drink offering and take full advantage of the new Brewdog pub in the nearby BH2 complex – here with wife Sally this evening. There’s no support act.
The seating set up tonight in the Windsor Hall is with the bank of seats coming down from the balcony, leaving a smaller standing area at the front – so a capacity somewhere between the 6,500 all ground floor standing and the 4,045 all seated capacity. We go to the front right. With the speakers elevated the view is decent, close, yet at an angle and ears don’t get a blasting like the old days of a giant stack of speakers either side of any stage.
The show starts with a minimalist look – just Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe on stage, both wearing some unusual glasses the meaning of which is lost on me. Suburbia is a good start. I like any anthem to the suburbs – my roots – however mocking.
The Pet Shop Boys are represented by a long string of hits that have filled radio play lists for decades, especially the 80s and 90s – Tennant is 67 now, but the voice still works.
After a while the interim backdrop lifts to reveal a more elaborate set with a band of sorts – backing singers, more synths and percussion – no guitars although Tennant plays an acoustic one at some point. Initially I’m sceptical about what I’m watching but it is a party, quite an irresistible one.
Always on my Mind is one of the top songs to really hit the nostalgia button. I only have a greatest hits CD from a bargain bin to go on so it’s the big hits for me.
Tennant does a few costume changes; coats seem to be his big thing. He’s good at wandering the stage so all the audience gets a look – I’m sure it all looks better from a central viewpoint but we are close and we were late in.
The Village People cover Go West is the anthem I associate most with The Pet Shop Boys, adapted to terrace chant ‘one nil to the Ar-sen-al’ for over use by them and others for years. There’s a bloke in front of us with an Arsenal football shirt on – how very ungig-like. I took a phone video of Go West which is here on my YouTube channel.
The best song for me from the setlist tonight is It’s a Sin. Anything starting ‘When I look back upon my life…’ is going to feel nostalgic. Yes, glad I came.
The stage set shrinks back to the smaller front part with the street lights of ‘suburbia’, leaving just the two Pet Shop Boys, Tennant and Lowe.
The near two hour set of greatest hits whizzed by and it was soon encores time: West End Girls, another highlight. To end, a tongue-in-cheek choice maybe, Being Boring. A low-key finish but they’d done enough to feed the party.