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Literally Issue 22 America Tour 2000 Part 1
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Miam1 the Pet Shop Boys' first American tour for eight years begins tomorrow. They have been preparing and rehearsing in London for months. Ten days ago - after a brisk detour in Germany to perform "New York City Boy" on television - they moved to West Palm Beach, on the Florida coas~ for final production rehearsals. Whilst they were there, Hurricane Irene hit, and both Neil and Chris had to be moved Out of their high but ocean-facing rooms which were flooded with three inches of water. (The hurricane did have one beneficial side-effect.

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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 him.

"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 to it."

(Keith 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.

"Do 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".

Chris 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.

"We're 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".

That 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).

They 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.

To 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," Chris agrees.

Part 2
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.

Chris 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,"

Chris 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".

Chris 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.

"It's 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?"

she 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",

Chris 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.

As 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.

"'Good 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.

"It's 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

Devices", 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 "

...two, 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 about Americans..

Thursday, October 21.

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',"

James 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.

 

Copyright Areagraphy Ltd 2000: All Articles have been
Taken From Literally 2000Issue 22

 

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