The lighting designer had been wondering
what to project behind the Pet Shop Boys during one of the show's more
reflective songs, "Only The Wind", and as the weather worsened his team
simply went outside and filmed the texture and motion of raindrops in
the puddles of the parking lot outside.)
Today Neil and Chris have their first day off for two weeks. "But not
evening off," Chris complains. This evening they will have a dress rehearsal
and final ran-through, this time on the set in the Jackie Gleason Theatre
Of The Performing Arts where tomorrow's concert will take place. In the
car on the way to the theatre - two blocks away - they discuss the film
Love And Death In Long Island (which Chris has just watched and Neil has
seen previously) and argue about whether Jason Priestley is good looking.
"Of the Performing Arts!" whoops Chris, reading the sign as we drive past
the auditorium and into the parking lot. "Not of Broadway tat." "Quite
right too," says Neil. They walk inside, and stand where the audience
will stand tomorrow, looking up at Zaha Hadid's angular surreal stage
on which they will perform. It's easy when you've been busy putting together
a show like this to set aside the thought that you will actually soon
be performing it in front of thousands of people. Not any more. "You feel,"
says Neil, "the deal is real. As someone once said." Chris stares alongside
"I still can't really believe we're doing this tour," he says. Then he
abruptly announces, "Right - I've got to go and get my shorts taken in."
Backstage, he fiddles with his new baseball cap. On the hack it says Pam
Star. On the front, Hellhent for Pleasure. He cups it in his hand, bending
it so that when he releases it the peak will stay in a tighter arch. "For
the desired redneck effect," he explains. Dainton, who has been despatched
to get Chris some Shore pizza (Chris's favoured brand), rectums with bad
news. The Sabre is shut, and on the door is a sign. "No electric," it
says. Dainton goes hack out to find some alliterative pizza, but while
he is away, the backstage catering opens and Chris keenly helps himself.
"Aren't you having pizza?" Neil reminds him. "You can't Tums down pork,"
Chris points Out. They discuss the first week chart position of Nightlife,
which is disappointing in Britain but good elsewhere. "Did you hear about
Gary Barlow's album?" Chris asks Neil. Neil looks visibly alarmed, and
only relaxes when Chris says that it only entered somewhere around number
30 in the British chart. "I thought you were going to say it was higher
than us, says Neil. "I was going to retire..." They discuss the show.
"The set relies very heavily on lighting, doesn't it?" Chris says. "But,
then again, they all do." "We've finally got tap-dancing in one of our
shows," Neil says. "Keith has taped him self tap dancing, and he mimes
is one of the dancers.) After dinner, they sit by the monitor desk in
the auditorium from where the films and projections will be intruded.
Several of the films are still not ready. They survey a rough edit of
footage to he used during "Young Offender" (taken from Crnshproof a film
by Paul Tickle, who they know). A little of it is somewhat risqué and
the Pet Shop Boys argue about how long the most explicit images should
be allowed to linger, and whether the film will need to be re-edited on
the nights when their parents come to the show. In the dressing room,
Neil flicks through the theatre's 1999-2000 season calendar. "Sarah Brightmlan
was here two nights ago," he notes. Chris is fitted with his new blond
wig, which is longer and has teased dreadlocks shooting out from its scalp.
He nods approvingly. "I feel closer to my self-image now," he says. Neil's
own new wig appears - it is also longer than previously versions, but
the tufts of hair are more evenly distributed than Chris's. "That's not
your long wig?" questions Chris. "Yes," Neil says. "It doesn't look very
Edward Scissorhands." "No," Neil says. "We went back to Beethoven." "We
realised," says Ian MacNeil, the theatre designer who has masterminded
the show's wigs and costumes, "it was going to look too Beetlejuice."
Neil nods. "I might as well have had a handbag." Neil is slowly made up.
"It's good to do the dress rehearsal in the same place as the first show,"
he says. "That's how we do it in the theatre," Ian MacNeil points out.
"But then you don't move to Tampa the next night," Neil says. There is
a slight pause.
you think," Neil wonders, "than the tampon was invented in Tampa?" He
mentions that they've got to do some TV interviews before the show tomorrow
night. Chris looks surmised ."I thought you'd like to relax you're vocal
chords and gargle and all that kind of thing..." Chris begins. "Gargle?"
Neil exclaims, as though nothing more preposterous has ever been said.
"I haven't gargled in my life." Chris shrugs. "Well, Concentrate on the
show or something." They discuss why Radio One isn't playing their records
enough in Britain. Chris notes that the most negative review on Nighthfe
is on the Radio One website. "I think it's all to do with Zoe Ball," he
says. "Or is that just being paranoid?" "I think it's being paranoid,"
Neil says, "because Zoe Ball's actually quite nice. Now that it is in
place, Chris re-inspects Neil's wig. "That's quite good, that," he declares.
"I know who looks like that - that woman in 101 Dolmotions. That's what
they're going to say you look like." "1 have no problem with that," Neil
says. "I've always liked Cruella de Ville. She made a big impression on
my childhood. I always preferred her to those dreary poppies." But he's
not quite happy. The wig feelt a little tight. "The thing it," he explains,
asking for it to be loosened, "my face is very mobile, you know. I do
a lot of eye movement, believe it or not. I'm like Roger Moore. And it
feels weird." He mentions to Chris that he has brought along two CDs as
his suggestions for what they should play before and after the performance.
For before they come on, he proposes a contemporary r'n'b record by a
group called Bomegrown which he bought in the record section of Urbon
Outfitters in London because he liked the look of the sleeve and wrongly
imagined it was ambient techno; for afterwards, an old over-emotional
version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".
is slightly sceptical about the first choice. "I'll listen to it with
an open mind," he promises, "but I don't like anything at the moment..."
"Unless you have anything..." defers Neil. "We could play some songs from
Gary Barlow's album," Chris suggests. "Or how about some Stockhausen?
Then they'll be pleased to hear us come on playing a tune." Neil pauses
for a moment before replying. "No," he says. There is a half an hour before
the performance. "Am I done?" Neil asloi Clirissie, the wigs person. "Be's
overdone," mutters Chris. Merck, their American manager, and James, the
tour manager, come in to discuss their forthcoming Toronto connect terse
welts from now. It toms out that the venue had been chosen before the
revised special Dona for their stage set had been agreed, and that it
now doesn't fit, It's too late to cancel, but if they play there it will
be with a very compromised version of the show. "There's no other venue
available," Merck emphasises. "How about a drive-in cinema?" offers Chris,
somewhat flippantly. "A supermarket?" Neil slips into his culottes and
discovers that they're too short. "We'll do them tomorrow," promises Consuela,
who looks after such matters. "The point of the dress rehearsal," Neil
notes forlomly, "is that everything's perfect." Another wardrobe problem
materialises: during the show Neil has to wear a small box on his waist
for the radio microphone which feeds the music into his earpiece for him
to sing to, but the culottes have not been designed to allow for this.
"Maybe they've had a lot to do today," Neil sighs. "Adjusting my swimming
trunks," Chris whispers. Neil studies himself some more in the mirror,
and begins to worry aloud that maybe hit wig doesn't look so good after
all. Eventually he sighs and says, "maybe I'm talking absolute bullshit
as usual." "You're getting in a flap," Chris diagnoses. "I'm getting in
a flap," he concedes.
on stage in nine minutes," Chris observes. Neil looks around. "Where's
my wine and water?" he snaps. "The whole system's falling apart!" "You
have a glass of wine?" asks Chris, apparently surprised, though Neil has
followed the same ritual for most Pet Shop Boys concerts in recent memory.
"It's approximately two-thirds water, one-third wine," Neil says. "I didn't
know that," says Chris, then adds, "I thought it was just wine." "No,"
Neil explains, "that would dry your throat out." Chris nods. "It's a diuretic.
If you drink a third, you'll urinate out two-thirds." James' tells them
its time to head to the stage. "Don't some artists keep their fans waiting?"
Chris asks him. "The ruder ones," Jarnes replies. They take their positions
at the back of the stage on time, but the dress rehearsal doesn't start
as planned. The show begins with a wash of green static and weaving lines
projected against a screen covering the stage. Tonight this starts and
stops for a while, and then the house lights come back on. There is a
long wait while a technical problem is addressed, and then the show finally
begins. During the first song, "For Your Own Good", the Pet Shop Boys
are not seen in the flesh. Instead, the artist Bruce Naumanri projects
their rotating heads by a work they admire) as Neil sings the vocal, live,
standing backstage. At the end of a song, a green line waves back and
forth across the screen and a long orchestrated preastihle eventually
turns into "West End Girls". As the chorus bassline surges in, the screen
Drops and the Pet Shop Boys can finally be seen, Neil standing directly
above Chris on the stage's elevated limb. Sylvia Mason-James appears midway
through the song, and the four male singers (who have, inevitably, also
been persuaded to dance) appear early in the third song, "Discoteca".
is followed by a radically reworked, much rougher-sounding "Being Boring",
in the middle of which the dancers and Neil collapse in unison to the
floor and lie there. Neil only rises to one knee as he starts the final
verse. After "Happiness Is An Option", "Can You Forgive Her?" and "Only
The Wind" Neil is standing exactly where be begun the show, and Tums to
the tall diagonal white swoosh of stage which rises above him to his right,
and which is used to project images and films on during the show. "Ladies
and gentleman," be says (though of course there are only a handful of
people in the auditorium), "Miss Dusty Springfield..." The idea is that,
as Neil begins "What Have I Done To Deserve This?", the screen is filled
with pictures and film of Dusty from the Sixties while her disembodied
voice booms Out her parts of the duet, and then that during the soaring
"since you went away..." part of the song, Dusty will be seen singing
the lines from the original video. But tonight it doesn't work well at
all. To begin with, Dusty's voice can barely be heard. On the screen,
the images of Dusty keep disappearing, and when it comes to the part where
her voice and image are supposed to be in sync, they are clearly not.
You can also, rather disconcertingly, see the 198? Neil in the comer of
the screen, singing along with himself. The first half concludes with
a riotous "New York City Boy", in which the male singers flounce around
joyously in sailor costumes, and finally "Left To My own Devices After
a fifteen minute break, during which the computers are loaded with the
second half of the show, they rectum, coming on stage to "Young Offender".
They are now wearing short wigs. Neil goes off towards the end of "Vampires",
during which the singers stand together and enjoy an extended soulfil
extemporisation, and when be returns with an acoustic guitar to sing "Se
A Vida F", sitting on the slope at the right side of the stage, surrounded
by the other singers, he is without his wig. Before the second acoustic
song, "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk", Chris leaves the
stage, and returns at the beginning of "I Don't Know What You Want But
I Can't Give It Any More" without his wig, instead wearing his white baseball
cap. During that song, a film which swoops the viewer through a fituristic
architectural world plays behind them. The set finishes with four stoppers:
"Always On My Mind" (with new, almost gospel backing vocals), "Shameless"
(with a backdrop of tabloid newspaper headlines and photographs), 'Opportunities"
(during which the part of the stage Neil is standing on is pushed forward,
nearly tripping him up) and "It's A Sin" (which begins with some abstract,
stately church organ nodding whilst stained glass effigies of the be wigged
Neil and Chris are projected behind them, and which segues into "I Will
Survive" towards the end).
return in white hooded tops to play a stoked-up new arrangement of "It's
Airtight" and then, finally, "Go West". Backstage, they talk over the
show. "Dusty was a problem today," Marc Brickman, the lighting designer,
tells them. "She's still difficult," Neil sighs. "From beyond the grave,"
adds Chris. They discuss the idea of playing something slower and more
beautiful as one of the encores. They consider "Love Comes Quickly". "I
can't remember the chords of 'Love Comes Quickly'," Neil says. "Isn't
it something to do with B?" says Chris. They wonder instead whether "Footsteps"
wouldn't work. It is also pointed Out to them that, in their dark clothes
during the second half, they blend in too much with the singers, and the
choreography becomes a muddled mishmash. Instead, they resolve to wear
the white hooded tops earlier; after the interval. "That sends out the
message," Chris says, "it's a in half, not the difficult theoretical stuff
we've just had." The wig changes are also cognising and somewhat illogical,
so a new scheme is worked Out. First they decided to change the order
of "...Drunk" and "Se A Vida F" to avoid the awkward moment when Chris
has a wig and Neil doesn't, then they decide that it will make much better
sense if they come on in the second half without wigs. They will wear
the short wigs, in true encore fashion, as a hair reprise when they return
for "It's Alright". And then, even though it's no longer necessary to
solve the wig problem, they decide that the new order of the acoustic
songs is an improvement. It's also pointed Out to them that one of the
famous people in the "Shameless" montage is John F. Kennedy mr, and that
in the light of his recent death in a plane crash American audiences might
not appreciate his appearance here. They issue instructions for his removal.
add variety, they wonder whether to give the male backing singers hats
at some point in the second half of the show. Police bats are suggested.
"I'm not having police hats," says Chris firmly. Baseball hats are suggested.
it'll ruin it when you have it," Ian MacNeil tells Chris. "It's iconic."
You don't mess with iconic," Neil agrees. White hard hats are suggested.
"Let's do that," Neil says. "It seems to fit the aesthetic." "Architecture,"
It says," Neil declares, "'hello everyone, architecture... "Good," says
Chris. "I think we've earned a drink." In the car, Neil comments that
"from a personal point of view, I enjoy doing this show. Particularly
'Shameless'." They go for dinner at the Delano hotel where they are staying.
"All I fancy is some caviar," says Chris. "It's too expensive," Neil points
out. Chris agrees. "I can't afford it," he says. He scans the menu further.
"Oh, charcuterie. I'll have that. I'm only eating for the sake of it."
"Well," sighs Neil. "The tour starts tomorrow." Over dinner, Merck proposes
that they appear on a popular MTV show called Loveline, on which a doctor,
a comedian and a guest comment on callers' sexual problems.
shakes his head. "I'd he terrible on that," he says. "Chris would say
something so ghastly," Neil says, "we'd never recover from it." Neil doesn't
fancy it much either. "I simply wouldn't feel comfortable," he says. They
have already turned down The Donny & Morie Show. "It's an eternal tightrope,"
Neil says, "somehow being sort of avant-garde and sort of middle -of-the-road,
sort of simultaneously." Sensibly, they both decide to have an early night.
Wednesday, October 20. They meet for lunch at the Hotel and both order
Virgin Marys - Bloody Marys without the alcohol. "It's the drink of the
tour," Neil says. "We don't even drink alcohol," Chris claims, implausibly.
There has already been some good news today -Disney may want to use some
of their songs in a new animated movie about clubbing - but there is also
more bad news about the financial woes of Harvey Goldsmith, who was promoting
the British leg of their tour. It is becoming clear that the situation
will end up personally costing them a great deal of money to ensure that
the tour goes ahead, and there is a fair amount of anger in the air as
they draft a public statement to explain what is going on. Once that is
finished, Neil worries about what he is going to say in between the songs
tonight. "You need Mandy on the phone,"
suggests. "Mandy Mandelson." "He doesn't write his own speeches," Neil
says. "You need to say three things," Chris offers. "Education, education,
education," says Neil. "It's only the wind, only the wind, only the wind,"
says Chris. "I think you should be a bit more personal," he teases. "You've
reached a tipe old age. You've got Tales to tell. Ups and downs..." They
discuss for a while what the dignified version of "hello Miami!" would
be. "I'd say 'hello Miami'," Chris eventually concludes. Neil suggests
that he refers to the fact that Ricky Martin is also playing in Miami
tonight - "I'm going to say, 'thank you for choosing our show..."' - and
works on a line to link "Happiness Is An Option" and "Can You Forgive
Her?": "this is a song about optimism...unlike the next one, which is
the normal business-as-usual bitter and twisted...which is where we go
hack to being bitter and twisted..." Then he wonders what to say before
"You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk". "Can't you say 'here's
where I get emotional?"' Merck suggests. "Oh no," chides Chris. "That's
not believable." "He'll start laughing," Neil says, looking at Chris.
"That'd be a write-off." He thinks some more. "Can I say 'here's where
we become the Von Trap Family singers'?" he wonders. And then they discuss
whether they can introduce "Sc. A Vida F" as their "Liven' La Vida Loco".
asks Neil who "Se A Vida F" is about. "Who isn't it about?" Neil replies.
They discuss the encores. "We can come back on," Chris suggests, "and
you can say, 'Chris, what do you think of the show so far?' and I'll say,
'it's alright'." "You suggested that," Neil sighs, "in 1989." Chris goes
down to the venue at 3 o'clock so that he has time to have his haircut;
Neil follows half an hour later. In the car park, two fans wait both men.
"I bought my first record of yours when I was 16," one tells Neil. "I'm
now 32." "I'd just like to let you know," the other says, "I appertain
your music very much. And I came out of the closet at the age of 40."
Inside, in Star Dressing Room A, Ian MacNeil tells them he's worried about
the male singers' hard hats. (They've settled on yellow.) Re's not sure
about them, and would rather wait until Tampa tomorrow. They talk it over
for a while and decide that they should only use the hats during "Go west"
anyway. Neil looks darkly towards the corner, where a percolating tureen
of coffee sits, filling the air with the dense, sickly, stale aroma. Two
of the battles the Pet Shop Boys always face on tour are to avoid plates
of cold meat, and to avoid tubs of hot coffee, both of which make the
dressing room smell. "Dairston!" summons Neil, and when Dainton arrives
Neil simply points at the offending ire. "Nyet," he says. Everyone traipses
to the make-up room downstairs. Ian MacNeil reflects on his experience
of working with the Pet Shop Boys: "When I first met them," he says, "I
said, 'I'm from theatre - I'm going to be asking why a lot'. And they
said, 'darling - it's pep music - it's not About why, it's about wow'."
Meanwhile Chris re-examines his new wig.
very natty dread," he giggles. "It's not too SigueSigue Sputnik is it?"
He laughs. "I'm a rock God." Neil worries about the dreads hanging over
Chris's forehead. "It would be more PSB without i~" he suggests. Chris
overrules him, for now. "He looks a bit like the guy from the Offspring,
Dexter;" says Merck. "It's a triumph," Neil declares. "The Pet Shop Boys
have got rock'n'roll." They go up onto the stage to do an interview for
a Florida TV show about style, Deco Drive. Before they begin, the hyperactive
hostess tells them, with inordinate bubbly pride, "I'm going to close
with 'you don't have to he a "West End Girl" or a "New York City Boy"
to love these guys'. So that will he nice." She almost seems to be expecting
congratulation1. For her first question she asks them "what's the 411?";
they don't know what this means, so it has to be explained. (411 is the
code you dial on American telephones for local directory assistance; "what's
the 411?" consequently means, "what's the latest information?") She asks
them what it is people love about their shows. "The nudity," says Chris,
deadpan. Neil gives a long, serious answer about how the spatial liberation
offered by producing music live on computers led logically in the past
to a theatrical presentation of their songs. "It's almost like an art
installation, this one," he says. "If you free the stage of musicians
you can do all that." "What arc you hopes for the CD?" she asks. "Hopes?"
scoffs Chris. "We don't have any hopes." "Do you want it to be the biggest
seller of your career?"
persists. "We don't think like that," Chris replies. "We're more interested
in the creative side." She asks about the way they look in their current
photos. "The dresses," she prompts. "Dresses?" says Chris, and - all theatrical
presentation - Tums to Neil abruptly. "I knew they'd think they were dresses."
"They're actually culottes," says Neil calmly. As they change the camera
angle, she tells them "I'm going to ask you what a West End Girl and a
New York City Boy is." "I don't know what either is," Chris insists, and
looks towards Neil. "What's a 'New York City Boy'?" "It's a boy from New
York City," says Neil, patiently. "Apart from the obvious," Chris leaps
in. "Isn't their any depth to it?" Neil laughs. "A West End Girl," Neil
tells the interviewer, "is a girl going out in the West End on a Friday."
"Not on Saturday?" she asks. "Olin on Thursday," Neil says. "Now, Thursday
is the new Friday in London," Chris explains. "This" says Neil, "is the
411 on London." On the way hack to the dressing room, they do another,
shorter, more useless TV interview. They are asked what exactly a Pet
Shop Boy is. Chris simply stares ahead, but Neil methodically tells the
story about the Ealing pet shop and the early hip hop groups with "Boys"
at the end of their nannies. "It's as simple as that," he says. It's time
for the sound check. They begin with "Discoteca". During "Happiness Is
An Option" Chris sits in the audience seats for a while to listen to the
overall sounds. When Neil sings the line "...I don't think I Suit my face",
says, "He should say, 'I don't think I suit this wig."' They are supposed
to see the finished, improved, fixed Dusty Springfield films, hut at 6.05
it still isn't ready. "You know Dusty," Chris says. "She's still a problem.
She's still tuning up late." As the intro to "What Have I done to deserve
this?" begins, Chris laughs and says, "it's 'Father Figure'." A pause.
"Not on purpose," he adds. They try to run the film, but it is a disaster.
"Not quite ready for viewing," Chris says. He sighs. "You know, its a
lot harder doing a show that's not theatrical. It's much more hard work."
Over dinner in the backstage catering area, they discuss the dusty problem,
and decide to run very slowly merging photographs of her tonight instead
of the film. Isis explained to them that the film people have been plagued
with a catalogue of disasters, culminating in a film transfer this afternoon,
which was the wrong format. "Maybe Dusty doesn't want it to happen," Neil
reflects. "Do you think she doesn't?" Chris worries, then looks alarmed
at him self. "Oh, what am I talking about? I don't believe in the afterlife."
"I think she'd like it," Neil says. As late-comers arrive at catering,
Neil tells them "The roast beef was delicious." "Well," says Chris, not
to be outdone, "the chicken was supreme." In the dressing room, Neil does
Yoga on the floor while Chris lies on the sofa eating M&Ms. Neil's new
radio mic holder is brought in, a little sachet made from the same striped
material as the culottes and now quite possibly the campest thing on earth.
Merck comes in and reports that none of the merchandise apart from some
skinny S-shirts are here, and that the Pet Shop Boys are being offered
the feeble excuse that because of last week's hurricane it was all diverted
to Chicago. Fury brews. They go down to the make-up room. Chris tries
to escape from wearing the thick, blackened eyebrows Which are required,
arguing - not entirely accurately -that because of his glasses it will
be possible to tell the difference.
be surely expects, everyone tells him otherwise, and someone begins to
say that if you're going to do something, you should... "...Do it half-heartedly,
that's what I say," Chris chips in. "That's always been my mono." And,
with that, he readily submits to the eyebrow blackening. A few minutes
later, he yawns. "You're not tired, are you, Chris?" Merck asks. "Of course
I'm tired," Chris replies. "I'm always tired. It's what I do." His wig
goes on, and he now offers a new interpretation of it. "It's meant to
be a bit King's Road, 1977," he says. He decides that the dreadlocks tentacles
hanging over his forehead are too long, and that an inch should be snipped
off each. After the deed has been done, he beams. "That's better. That's
made all the difference. My wig just got better." "Your favourite wig
just got better;" Neil says. "Why don't we use that as a slogan?" Chris
wonders. "'Your favourite group just got better'." Now Neil looks at himself
in the mirror. "I love my wig," he declares. "Mine," says Chris, still
happy, "is a bit like Fido Dido." The wigs and make-up are on, and me
show doesn't start until 8.1 5pm. "It's only 25 past flaming 7," Neil
complains. "Right," Chris announces, "we started too early, everyone."
"I think we could do the whole thing in one hour," Neil decides. They
sit silently. "I'm at the point of thinking 'why oh why are we doing this?"'
says Neil. This is probably meant as rhetorical, but typically Claris
doesn't take it as such and considers the answer. "It's not for financial
reasons," be says. More silence. "I love this wig," Chris says. "I don't
need to do anything. it does all the work." He panses for a moment and
then ads, "I've actually taught it to play the keyboards." They now decide
that they want to take these wigs off again, to that they can get used
to putting them on just before going on stage, and so that Claris can
lie down. Only once this has been reluctantly agreed by Clsriaaie do they
decide not to do it. "I'm going to prude my lines," Neil say.
evening, we're the Pet Shop Boys..."' Claris lightly pokes him at some
along introductions from previous tours. "Claris," says Neil, "you are
welcome to do the introductions yourself..." "No," Chris declines, "I'm
quite looking forward to them. 'That was an old song, now we're going
to do a new song..."' "Chris!" Neil beseeches. "Don't do this before I
go on, or I won't be able to do it." He practises some lines, then sighs.
"That's one of the problems with being English. It's much easier to do
this stuff in an American accent. Then you can call them 'you guy..."'
"'Do you want the 411 on our new album,"' Chris mock-announces, "'or have
you all been 86-ed?"' Neil chats about the time they went to see Elton
John and he stopped in the middle of the song and said "oh silly me!"
because he had forgotten to do "Bennie And The Jets", and simply went
back and did it there and then, and how crazy the crowd went, and they
discuss how much people seem to like those kind of mistakes. Consuela
asks Chris, "do you want to change your trousers now?" Chris lies there.
"I could think about it," he says. Rafael from EMI Latino comes in to
say hello. He tells them they look older than when he last saw them. "Well,
you don't look younger either," Chris says. Rafael nods in acknowledgement.
"Less hair," he concedes. "Well," says Chris, "we've got more now." They
arc called to the stage. "I'm looking good, feeling great," Neil says.
"Well, feeling great," says Chris. They stand behind the stage. The green
interference Starts up and the Miami crowd roar. It's 8.15. '1 thought
the interference came before 8.15," Chris says.
part of the show" Neil says. "I though," says Claris, "it was a transitional
period." Neil looks at Claris. "Oh, shut up," he says. His next words,
into the microphone, still standing here next to Claris, are the opening
line of "For Your Own Good". In the Nineties America has in many ways
been one of the Pet Shop Boys' weakest markets - though their albums have
sold consistently they haven't had a hit single for over ten years - but
if there was any doubt whether there was an audience here keen to see
the Pet Shop Boys it disappears the moment the curtain drops near the
beginning of "West End Girls". At the first clear sight of Claris and
Neil, pandemonium breaks out and never really subsides. Most of the introductions
are simple, though before "Can You Forgive Her?", Neil gives a version
of the lines he was working on at lunchtime: "That's a song from our new
album. It's an optimistic song...this next song is more of a typical bitter
and twisted kind of thing." At the end of "What Have I Done To Deserve
this?" Neil turns to the image of Dusty and blows her a kiss. As "Left
To My Own
the final song of the first half, famished, Neil, standing at the front
of the stage, melodramatically lifts off his wig Chris does the tarne
but only as he is walking off. ruing the half-time interval, they retire
to the dressing room. "So," asks Chris, "'luke' and 'warm' aren't in the
building?" Re smiles at Neil. "It's great when you take your wig off."
"I held my hand above it for a little while," Neil laughs. "Mainly because
I was trying to work out how to do it." Chris teases Neil about the Dusty
kiss. "Oh, you are a tart," he says. "You're not going to do it every
night, are you?" "I might," Neil says. "It says so many things. Sort of
'thank you', and 'goodbye' as well." The second half is received as the
first at. During the middle-eight of "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When
You're Drunk", Neil begins singing "all of my fiends..." then realises
he's not pitching right, so he simply stops, laughs, says "I'll do that
again", and goes "
three, four...all of my friends..." and is back in the song. It is something
of an Elton John "oh silly me" moment and the Miami audience simply love
it. During "Se A Vida E" he simply stops playing guitar in the end because
he thinks he's out of tune with it, but it sounds fine anyhow. "Shameless"
still features JFK JR - and, previously unnoticed, Princess Diana, who
may also be an unfortunate choice - but no one seems to notice or react
badly. After "It's A Sin" finishes and they wave farewell, they sit on
chairs behind the stage quickly changing and having the short blond wigs
glued on. "It's gonna be alright," says Neil after the first encore, and
then says "I'd like to thank you for Coming to see us instead of Ricky
Martin...", at which point he is around by the roar of the crowd. Neil
introduces everyone; when Chris is introduced he sticks his tongue out.
"I'd sincerely like to thank you for being such a fabulous audience on
the first night of the tour," Neil announces, touchingly. "It makes it
wonderful for us -thank you so much."
They are followed backstage, as agreed earlier, by the crew from MTV Latino.
"Chris is in the toilette," Dainton explains, in front of them, in the
dressing room. "That's slightly more than you all needed to know," says
Neil. During the interview Neil says, "we did this whole Latin thing three
years ago with 'Se A Vida E"'. When they ask what Nightlife is about,
Chris simply says over to you, Neil." Neil nods. "This is one of my questions,"
he tells them, then answers It. They are asked about the way they look.
"It's just what we wear normally," Chris bluffs. "It's how we feel comfortable,"
Neil says. Chris is asked whether he feels as though they are underrated
because they make electronic dance music. "Well, I just believe you should
make the music that you like," he says. "We called an album Disco when
it was S dirty word...I don't feel vindicated, particularly, but it's
obviously the best musical form, there's no doubt about that." They ask
where the tour will be visiting and Neil lists some Countries. Chris feigns
horror. "You didn't tell me that!" he says to Neil. "Kept me in the dark..."
They briefly mingle at the meet'n'greet then sign autographs out the back.
"How's Nightlife coming along?" one fan asks. "What?" says Neil, puzzled.
"The musical?" "It's not called Nightlife," Neil points Out. "What's it
called?" "Not telling you," Neil snaps. "It's a secret." There is an open-Sir
party thrown by their record company on top of the Sony building, with
a panoramic view over the streets of Miami's South Beach. After that,
Neil retires to his hotel room where he lies on the couch, listening to
Bach, eating olives and cashew nuts. Chris goes on to another party at
a new club run by Ingrid Caesars for a few quiet drinks and a small dance.
"Do you know," he says, late into the evening,"there's something nice
The bus leaves for Tampa, on Florida's West Coast, at 11am. The Pet Shop
Boys sit at the lounge in the back. Chris complains about the supposedly
jolly little computerised drawings on the day sheet: the piece of paper
put under the hotel doors of everyone on the tour at night, telling what
they will he doing the next day, and at what time they will be doing it.
"Girls always like things like that," he buffs. "What I really hate is
when they have a bottle of champagne cracked open." The bus slowly makes
its way through the Miami suburbs. "Why Can't we just dos season here?"
Chris asks. "I like it," Neil declares. "We'll just do two months at the
Jackie Gleason Theatre." The bus moves on towards Tampa, regardless, and
they talk about the fans they met last night from all over the world.
"It's not often you meet someone from Lima," Neil notes. "This is quite
a nice bus," Chris says. "It's not too woody." "It's not too sleazy,"
Neil agrees. "It's not too fun. A lot of these buses are very furry."
They realise that it's time to choose their sleeping place for the tour
(though, truth to tell, the Pet Shop Boys plan to spend very few nights
on the bus). "It's bagging hunks!" says Neil with gusto. "I think I want
to be in the middle," Chris decides. And they discuss what it is, and
isn't, possible to do whilst lying in such bunks. Chris flicks through
a magazine. "Guess what Bush's album is called' he scoffs. "The Science
of Things." Be says the last word - "things" - in such a way as to leave
absolutely no doubt how feeble he finds it. James comes back to consult
with Neil and Chris about on-the-road sustenance. "Are we happy with a
truck-stop lunch?" he inquires. "Yes," says Chris. "Or something in the
Egon Ronoy guide." "Or Denny S',"
suggests. "I'd rather not have Denny S'," Neil says, "because we know
the menu and, to be honest, it's a bit on the gruesome side." "So, just
stop," James concludes. "One that looks authentic," Neil nods. Neil reads
a positive review of Nightlife in Rolling Stone magazine. "It's got a
great description," he relates. "'Eurotrash disco's answer to the Grateful
Dead'." One comment does, however, puzzle him - the review says that "Closer
to Heaven" has a guitar hook borrowed from U2. This is doubly perplexing:
"Closer To Heaven" doesn't have a guitar hook, and no one here can think
of any similarity the song has to anything by U2. Neil declares that we
will have to listen to the CD, and begins rummaging around, looking for
his copy of it. Chris, who thinks it is funny that Neil has brought a
copy of nightlife on tour, says, teasing, "Oh, you've got our CD". "Chris,"
Neil retorts, "I've got the album because you told me I was doing the
inflection of 'Happiness Is an Option' wrong." Even when "Closer To Heaven"
is played, it takes a while to work out what the reviewer is talking about,
but it is eventually decided that the keyboard at the beginning could
be seen to sound a little like the beginning of U2's "New Year's Day".
At around 2.OOpm the bus pulls into a truck stop. "We're trailer trash,"
says Neil, slightly thrilled. "Always have been. We're having lunch in
a trailer park. I'm so excited." At a diner called Grandma's Kitchen,
they both order pork chops. Ten minutes later the waitress retums to tell
them that they're all out of pork chops. They re-order, and discuss an
acquaintance who has had sex with one of the cast of Friends.
Areagraphy Ltd 2000: All Articles have been
Taken From Literally 2000Issue 22