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November 08, 1999 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-08

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 8, 1999

After ned
By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
It's been nearly 10 years since
Britain's synthpop answer to an unasked
question, the Pet Shop Boys, known as
much for their pageantry as for their
wry observations,
last washed up on
American shores
Pet Sh0 - and Detroit soil
- for their extrav-
BoyS agant 1991 tour.
State Theater They're finally
Tonight at 8 p.m. back again, in
support of their
new album,
"Nightlife." There
isn't really any
explanation for
why it's been so
long, other than
that the Boys have
been otherwise occupied making hit
records and all.
Or at least that's what Chris Lowe,
one half of the duo, said last week on
his way to the Boys' Los Angeles con-
cert. He was hiding in his bus bunk
from a rabid biographer ("I don't want
people overhearing," he whispered),
coinidentally also named Chris.

arly 10 years,
"We've actually been very busy," to reinvent t
Lowe said, speaking with a lilt slightly with a shrug
(okay, very slightly) reminiscent of quo audible t
Cary Grant. "We've toured Australia wires.
and South America. We did a season at Asked if
the Savoy Theatre in the west end of "Nightlife" w,
London. We headlined several festivals musical, Low
in Europe, we've written a musical. And the one song
we've written and produced this musicaj It's ti
album." play, thy: fath
When pressed for information as to betwcen Tenr
whether Americans had done some- "In denial"
thing horrible to keep them away for so compared to 1
long, Lowe laughed. "We're having a disco beat far
great time in America," he said. "We'll as being part

Pet Shop Boys return tc
musical," Lowe said,
disdain for the statusa
Hugh the copper phone_


try to come back a bit sooner next
During their time away from the
stage, Lowe and partner Neil Tennant
(Tennant sings, Lowe mans the comput-
ers, and both write) focused their ener-
gies on their musical. Always trying to
be one step ahead of the culture game,
the musical is a move away from tradi-
tional stage shows.
"The idea was to write a musical
about contemporary themes and using
contemporary music, so the music is
made electronically. We're fed up with
going to the theater and seeing the same
style of music theater. We're just trying

Back in 1
their "Very" a
released ani
the prospecto
like that. "Oh,
up my sleeve.
dance tracks t
that we compi
good is that o
cept of a son
mentally to w

any of the tracks on
would be appearing in the
e admitted, "'In denial' is
(on the album) from the
wo of the characters in the
er and daughter." A duet
nant and Kylie Minogue,
is rather subdued when
the typical Pet Shop Boys
e, and it is easily pegged
of a larger whole.
993, in conjunction with
album, the Pet Shop Boys
instrumental-only album,
Lowe sounded excited at
of cutting another album
yes, I've got lots of those
Thui was just some of the
hat we had laying around
led as a giveaway. What's
nce you remove the con-
g it frees you up instru-
write experimentally," he

courtesy of Sire Records Group
The Pet Shop Boys are in America promoting their new album, "Nightlife."

Lowe said that he and Tennant
approach writing b-sides for singles
much the same way. It's often hard to
understand why a Pet Shop Boys b-side
never made it to an album, but Lowe
easily explained the process.
"Normally, the b-sides come about
because we need a b-side, so one of the

consequences of that is that the b-side
might be better than the a-side because
it was just the last one that was written.
It's not a case of it being substandard,"
he said. "It's kind of good, because you
can let your hair down a bit. You don't
feel you're under any pressure to do
anything commercial, so you can do
things that you might not otherwise do.
"On the tour we're doing a selection
of our favorite Pet Shop Boys songs so
you get some hits and you get some b-
sides, you get the old cover versions but
no new cover versions, and obviously

.. -- ,



our album tracks," Lowe said as he
segued-into discussing the current tour.
The Pet Shop Boys covered
"Somewhere" from "West Side Story"
during their residence at the Savoy with
a heart-thumping, sped-up beat. My
suggestion that they should do an entire
concert or album of showtunes was met
with a hearty laugh. "I think we've had
enough of showtunes," Lowe said.
The concert that Americans see will
be the same show that the Boys put on
across the world, although it will be far
less stagy than their previous tours.
Lowe was very eager to describe the
still-lavish production. "This show has
been designed by a British architect
called Zaha Hadid. Her work is very
futuristic and dynamic and so it's a very
architectonic-looking show. It's visually
exciting but it's not actually a theatrical
show like the last tour was. It's more of
an exciting concert. Having said that,
there's still costume changes, wigs and
that whole deal. We just can't get away
from it," he said.
Despite the numerous vampire refer-
ences on "Nightlife," but Lowe said that
there's no danger of he and Tennant
delving into the shady world of black
eyeliner and purple eye shadow. Known
as much for their odd clothing choices

as their ironic sense of melody and lyri-
cism, this apparently is just the next log-
ical step in Tennant and Lowe's runway
progression. "The funny thing is we
look a bit goth, don't we? The clothes
we're wearing, the long coats and the
wigs. But we don't see ourselves
goth particularly," Lowe said. "We jus
wanted to step outside fashion, really.
Lowe then mentioned that their fash-
ion choices for the video for the albums
first single, "I don't know what you
want but I can't give it anymore," had
far more to do with a couple of canines
that the director brought to the set and
their photographer subsequently used in
their promo photos.
"The reason the dogs came about i1
those photos is that the clothes look bet0
ter with a bit of movement, so the pho-
tographer thought that if he put some
dogs into the photo they would kind of
drag us along and lend the clothes a bit
of dynamism. They're fantastic dogs
but they're a bit stupid," he laughed.
The Pet Shop Boys' aesthetics reach
beyond their physical appearance in the
media, though. Even their album titles
are a reflection of their sensibilities:
after all this time, they're still stickin
with one-word names like "Bilingual"
and "Actually"
"We started off being sort of very
minimal and so we wanted a very mini-
mal title, and we've got to the stage now
where it would kind of spoil it," Lowe
said, tongue firmly in cheek. "When
you see all our album titles in a list it all
kind of looks rather good. Also on this
album the song titles are very long and
so I think that the short album titles
compensate for that:"
The observation that "New York City
Boy," a disco anthem that ought to bring
the Village People out of retirement,
breaks with Pet Shop Boys tradition by
not closing out the album, was met with
disagreement by Lowe. "It does end the
album," he argued. "The song after
that's the coda. That's how I see it, its
the finale, the grand finale, and then you
get the bonus track, the tail. We would-
n't want to end it on such a happy note.
"We are the Pet Shop Boys, after all:

Nov. 8 through 10 * 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 n.m.

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