||The Pet Shop Boys have Flown back
to England from Japan two days before their Saturday night
performance at the Glastonbury festival, and have gone
straight from the airport to Babbington House, the luxury
hotel where they will stay throughout the festival On
Friday evening, they are still recovering. It 5 funny
having breakfast in southem Japan, thinking that you're
going to have dinner in I Will shire says Neil.
"I've never felt so jet lagged in my entire life." But, he
adds, this was their most enjoyable Japanese tour.
We did no
promotion," says Chris. "Also, the Japanese seem to have
loosened up a bit. An equal opportunities bill was passed,
so they seem to have more rights. And they seem to have
more of a sense of humour." He is silent for a moment,
then adds: One of the nice things they do, as the plane is
moving away from the gate, the ground staff wave goodbye
to the plane."
Chris bought one of those tiny
hand-held scooters in the duty free shop on the way to
Japan and scooter around his Japanese hotel room. He looks
through some snapshots his sister has had developed. Some
of them are from their recent Washington appearance. "I
did that show without a hat on!" he exclaims. "That can't
Neil asks to see them. Chris hesitates. "I've
got clean hands," Neil says, and the photos are handed
over. Neil studies one of a train window. That very
Michael Stripe," he says.
I know," Chris apologises. Some people might
call these boring."
Neil flicks through them. 'Oh," he
says. There we are Engel’s, me and Marx." He talks
more about the flight from Japan.
"I loved flying
over Siberia, because there's nothing there apart from
some very straight roads. It was sunny - there was some
cloud over Germany - and then as soon as you got to
England it was cloud. My mother was telling me on the
phone that the Russians stop rain - they disperse the
clouds. And they don't know why The English don't do it
for Wimbledon." They talk about their police escort in
Lithuania. "With sirens," Neil says, "pushing Every other
car out of the way for two hundred kilometres. Lorries in
the gutter, more or less. It was sort of amazing and
ridiculous." He laughs. "The audiences were great. In
Vilnius it was torrential rain and it stopped about five
minutes in, so you had 10,000 people with umbrellas."
Over dinner they
discuss a preview in the New' Musical Express which, while
otherwise nice, refers to them as "pushing 50". Chris is
outraged. "I'm not pushing fifty! Fair enough in Neil's
case, but me. I'm ruinous..."
They sit there for a
moment, nobody speaking. This time tomorrow they will be
going on stage.
"I feel strangely excited," says Chris.
"Don't worry," says Neil. "It'll pass."
about how light it still is outside. "We're now into 'Left
To My Own Devices'," says Neil, imagining tomorrow, "and
it's incredibly light." The whole table then has a huge
argument about whether summer officially begins on June21,
which is Neil's firm belief, or whether in reality, as the
term is commonly used; it begins earlier (the more
sensible stance favoured by Lirero¼'). The next argument
is over the derivation of the word "news". "That's where
it comes from - North East West South," Chris insists. He
gets little support for this. Their booking agent Pete
Nash asks whether it might also have something to do with
the word "new". The food arrives.
Murray, their press officer, if he can make sure their
appearance here is noticed. "Can we hijack this event to
up our profile a bit?" he teases. "Because I'm not even
aware we're doing it." Murray wonders whether he'd like to
do more interviews. "I don't want to do an interview,"
Chris corrects, 'just a general we-stole-the-show kind of
thing. I'm not talking about interviews, I'm talking about
Dinner is finished quickly so that those who
want to, including Neil and Chris, can drive to
Glastonbury to see the Chemical Brothers perform tonight.
"This is so exciting!" Chris exclaims, jumping into the
van. "This is so exciting."
excited," Neil agrees. "We're going to Glasto and I'm
pushing 50, according to the NME..."
They turn on Radio
"You can't beat a timpani in a dance record," says
Chris. The song builds. "Yes! Let's go!" says Chris. The
DJ says, "Radio One -where we always pay the extra 30p and
go large". Everyone roars. "Oh, this reminds me of raving
in the old days," says Chris. A few miles on, he insists
that we stop so that he can relieve himself in a hedgerow.
Then we hit a traffic jam:
People still trying to
get into the festival.
"Where are the Lithuanian police
when we need them?" asks Neil.
We edge forward, but
impossibly slowly. The first suggestion that we should
turn back is mooted.
"We can't give up so soon," says
Neil. "We're the plucky Brits."
About fifteen minutes
later, realising there is no chance of seeing the Chemical
Brothers even if we wait, we turn around.
disappointed," says Neil. "I'm a hardcore raven"
music's better here," says Chris, meaning in the van with
the radio on. "I'd rather listen to this than the flipping
"That's what Glastonbury is - a
flipping traffic queue," Neil complains. "I was looking
forward to that."
Saturday, June 24. Around lunchtime,
lounges in the library, relaxing. Then
suddenly jumps up and looks out of the window. "That's the
problem with grass - people cutting it," he says. "That's
the peace shattered in this room. He is asked to think of
a quote about Catatonia's Cerys Matthews, who will be
singing "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" They talk
about singing and she mentions that she has wanted to ask
one of Another Level to teach her
How to sing run’s. it
could never find all those notes " Neil says. "It almost
'What's the opposite of a
trill?" Cerys asks.
"I don't know," says Neil.
discuss how she should be announced. ~Not to make a big
fuss," Cerys suggests. "To kind of get the vibe it's just
"The rumour is, apparently," says
Neil, "that we've got Barry White appearing with us."
"Oh no, they'll be disappointed," she frets. She is
holding her asthma inhaler and her DAT of "What Have I
Done To Deserve This?" "It's quite hard to tell which are
the voices," she says, meaning that she can't distinguish
between Neil and Dusty.
Neil nods. "Yeah. I sing
higher. That's why we continued working with her, because
our voices blended so well. When we did a record with
Lisa, we nearly did a duet but it sounded so weird."
She leaves and Chris appears. Neil says he's going for a
"Neil likes swimming so much he'd got his own
swimming pool," says Chris. "He liked it so much he bought
Susan, Neil's sister, appears, holding her
Glastonbury ticket. Chris and Neil speak almost
"It's the ticket," says Chris.
just the ticket," says Neil.
Chris says he wants some
lunch. Neil caves easily. "Let's eat," he says. "To hell
with exercise, let's eat again."
A little after three
o'clock in the afternoon Cerys comes to Neil's room for
the first and only rehearsal of her duet. She studies the
lyrics she's been having trouble with. "It's just 'how I
am and 'how I'm...'," she says. "It changes. Why does it?"
"It's just the sense," says Neil. "It doesn't matter
hugely. One's a question and the other’s a statement."
"Just trying to hurt my brain." says Cerys.
They sit on
the sofa together, running through the song. After the
first complete run-through - in which Cerys already sounds
Terrific - Neil says, massive applause, thank
you and goodnight".
She picks up a jar on the coffee
table. "Is that caviar?" she asks.
think," Neil replies.
"You should have said yes,"
Neil nods. "I never travel anywhere
They run through the song a capillary.
didn't do the 'we don't need to fall apart..."' Cerys
'You're right," Neil concedes. "I forgot that
He suggests she sings the "we can make a
deal" line higher She tries it. "It's better, isn't it?"
'it sounds more you," he says.
He shows her
his photos from Japan.
"It's an amazing place for
little trinkets," she says. 'Telephones." She holds up a
photo he has taken of a bottle of water.
Rhodes moment, he says.
'I ate jellyfish when I was
there," she says. "More gristly than phlegmy."
we do it one more time," he suggests, 'just to finally get
"What's the guy who does the front of house
called?" she asks. (She is talking about the man who
controls the sound level and mix from the mixing desk.)
"Snake," says Neil.
They're always Snake, or
Carrot," she splutters. "You never get a Jeremy or Toby,
They stand up and sing through the song again. It sounds
The van pulls up, driven by James, the tour
manager (Chris has already gone down to the site hours ago
to wander around and soak up the atmosphere.)
"Everybody got everything they need?" James asks.
a bit behind on my mortgage," says Anthony Glen, Cary’s
Driving through the crowd to the backstage
area, someone knocks on the car window and says hello to
Cerys in Wash.
"One of my pet hates is people who say
Hello to me in Welsh," she says. "Because I only speak
it to my family and close friends."
In the dressing
room Neil and Chris admit to high levels of apprehension.
Cerys pops in and says to Chris, "I'm going to pinch your
hum when I come onstage." Mary MeCanney - a photographer
who is one of Paul MeCanney's daughters - knocks on the
door, holding a baby. "This looks a good nappy-changing
room to mc," she says.
"We don't mind the smell," says
Neil, who is geeing changed.
wearing the only suit in the whole of Glastonbury," Chris
points out, amused.
"I certainly hope so," says Neil, firmly.
"It's a lot more nerve-wracking than Cream fields," says
"It's a lot more," Neil agrees.
should wear my cap?" Chris suggests.
"No," says Neil.
"The wig looks great."
"You don't think it looks like
I'm taking the piss?"
"Chris, people want to see a
They pose for a photograph outside for Q
magazine, and then get back to the business of being
"Well," says Chris, "Neil is literally going
to do line-dancing in front of a Glastonbury crowd."
And it begins. To begin with the crowd is a little thin,
and the mood uncertain, but as the sun set’s and more
people appear from the other fields, everything builds
triumphantly. They start with "I Don't Know What You
Want...", "Suburbia", "Can You Forgive her?", "Leif To My
Own Devices", "Sc A Vida ft,' ("This is a song for the
summer which we're almost having ) and "Rent" (the
original version rather than the stripped-down version
they've tended to perform in recent years). Neil performs
"Drunk" without Chris, Chris performs "Paninaro" without
Neil, then they play "Young Offender" and "New York City
Before "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" Neil
says "tonight we're going to do it with a very special
friend of ours". The crowd go quite impressively bonkers
at the sight of Cerys, and it works well, though she does
start making up new words when she begins forgetting
them. After that, it's the first British performance of
"Positive Role Model", then "Always On My Mind" and "It's
Backstage, before encores, they discuss
whether they should perform "Being Boring".
"We don't want to
do 'Being Boring', do we?" Chris persuades Neil. "Leave
them on a high."
Neil agrees. Instead, they do "West
End Girls". Then Neil says: "When we came here tonight we
were Glastonbury virgins, so we want to thank you for
being kind to us. This song is called 'Go West'." Which,
quite triumphantly, it is.
"Did you enjoy Glastonbury?"
Cerys inquires as they arrive backstage.
"I enjoyed it
very much," says Neil. "It took a while to get going."
"Well," sighs Chris, "thank God it's oven"
the last three songs," Neil says.
couldn't have just done three songs," says Chris.
Neil, sensibly. "You've got to do that - you've got to
take them on a journey."
They walk over to the BBC's
compound, to be interviewed live on TV. Jools Holland
compliments Neil on his bow tie, saying it is the one
moment of style so fan Neil stays to do a second interview
- with one of Adam and Joe, Jamie Theakst on standing in
for the missing member of the duo - and then tells
someone: "It looks like a city, on the night before a
battle." Billy Bragg comes over and asks Neil to sign an
autograph for a friend. Billy Bragg points to the sky.
"You can just about make out The Plough up there."
Back at the hotel, the party goes on for hours. And as the
newspapers appear over the next two days, and then as word
spreads around London the next week, it becomes clear that
the Pet Shop Boys' first Glastonbury performance is being
talked over as one of the festival's triumphant
highlights, and has indeed - as Chris demanded - become a
general we-stole-the-show kind of thing after all.
Copyright Areagraphy Ltd 2000: All Articles have been
Taken From Literally 2000 Issue 23