At the venue, after a brief soundcheck, a meet ’n’
is scheduled where Neil and Chris will speak with, and sign
something for, those fans who have arranged
(and paid) for them to do
so. Neil and Chris stand to one side of the still—empty Terminal 5 ?oor,
halfway back from the stage, and people are let in by security in
ones and twos and fours.
Literally, naturally, watches and listens.
Here are some random snapshots, as people ?le through — male
’n’ greeters are denoted by “M”, female by “F”:
M: [with great
enthusiasm] l’ve had a wonderful time!
Neil: We’ve had quite a good
F apologises for Neil and Chris having to do this.
Chris: No, we like this bit. It’s the show we don’t like.
you ?fying tonight, or tomorrow?
Chris: That’s none of your
business, is it?
F: Why don’t you sing on the ‘Thursday’ song?
Chris: Because I’m wearing a mirrorball at the time — it’d be
Neil: [talking about the show in Atlantic City
last night, and how the gauze messed up during “Rent”] That’s the ?rst
time it’s gone wrong since
the beginning of the tour. And then I nearly
got the giggles. That’s never happened to me before.
M: Did you go to
Chris: We don’t gamble.
You shouldn’t gamble — it’s a losers’ game... Enjoy the show tonight. It’s
going to be a
proper rock ’n’ roll gig tonight.
a fan all dressed in orange who says he has come from Fort Jefferson in
Chris: We’ve travelled a lot further than that.
M: Of course. As musicians you travel all over the world.
Only one wish.
Chris: It’s not going to be granted.
Neil signs his T-shirt instead.
F [with wife]: I
proposed to her in front of you guys. [asks them to sign a photo of their
at Rockefeller Center]
Neil: Should I write
‘congratulations’ on that? Assuming you can read my handwriting.
Chris: I won’t write over your face.
F: Football or rugby?
Neil: [inspecting fan is
t—shirt] Is that David Bowie?
Neil: Is he coming
tonight? If he comes we could do “l-lallo Spaceboy”.
what we should have done at Coachella.
Neil: He wouldn’t have
minded doing it.
M: [explains he is ?om Poland] When I was 16, I
was learning to dance to your music.
Neil: I actually went to
Poland on holiday a couple of years ago.
Neil: 60’s the new 30.
We’re playing the Exit festival on my birthday.
Neil: We used to go
to Balthazar, down in Soho. It’s probably social Siberia by now.
I love the play, Closer to Heaven.
Neil: Very, very underrated. It
was going to come to America. Sandra Bernhard was going to do the
Frances Barber part. We had a meeting with her and everything.
Chris: [refusing to sign the “Leaving” twelve- inch single with Neil s
face on the front cover]
You’ve got the wrong one. I’ll sign it on the
M: [says he is going to get into the queue for the show now]
Chris: I would go back home and have a lie down if I were you.
Neil: Have a cup of tea. And something to eat. A ham sandwich comes to
M: [says he has been a fan since the beginning of the
Neil: [?rmly] Mid-eighties.
M: [continues by
saying that he recently looked at their old videos and that they look like
Neil: [dryly] It was a long time ago.
know you’re not meaning to be insulting...
F: Do you know how long
I’ve waited for this. My mum bought these tickets for me.
Neil: What a
F: “Inside a dream” is my favourite song.
Neil: Good choice.
F: [asks whether they might do some remixes of
Neil: Funnily enough, we had some done for Coachella, and we
were going to put them on the
World Wide Web. Glad you reminded us.
We’d forgotten about them.
Two female fans are particularly
Chris: I love a bit of glitter.
Neil: So do I.
Neil explains to a fan the disastrous tale of their announced then
cancelled concert at the
Hollywood Bowl some years ago, explaining the
role their American agent played in the debacle.
Neil: Our former
agent... Consequently the Hollywood Bowl isn’t talking to us. We’re banned
from the Hollywood Bowl. The fan asks about the upcoming Proms concert.
Neil: Oh, that’s not going to be cancelled. The Hollywood Bowl is one
of the only things we’ve
ever cancelled. Apart from our ?rst tour.
M: Ijust want to say “hi”. Nothing to sign.
Chris and Neil sign
the laminated pass that gives access to the meet ’n’ greet anyway.
M: [reminiscing about an encounter with Neil at an earlier concert] I
said, “Neil, you’re a very
sexy man,” and you ?ashed your Calvin Kleins
Neil: I probably did. It was 20 years ago. I was only 40.
M: [asks if they will perform with Sylvia Mason- James again]
Neil: Sylvia? Oh, I imagine so, one day. We haven’t been doing that kind
Two female fans.
F: Do we get hugs?
Neil talks to them about North Carolina. “North Carolina is a
very nice place. I’m thinking of
going to live there.”
[lying] Tonight I’m going to walk on for anal encore and sing “Edelweiss”.
Chris: And we’ll all burst into tears.
M: I want to say something
witty and profound, and it’s not going to happen.
evening” is enough.
M: I have a few questions. I would like to hear
Neil: It’s a difficult one.
M: As a fan, you
have many good rare songs.
Neil: We try to do a mixture. We do a
song like “Fugitive” on this tour.
Chris: That’s the ?rst question
— how many more?
Neil: [politely] I think that’s the last question.
Female fan introduces herself as from Jamaica.
Neil: You heard
the Pet Shop Boys in Jamaica?
Neil: We’ve been to
Jamaica on holiday. 1 used to go there every year at one time. For some
F: [reminiscing about a previous encounter]
You gave me your guitar pick.
Neil: No guitars in this show.
She requests that they play “Before” when they next tour.
Chris: Oh, I love “Before”.
Neil: We probably will. Good idea.
M: [talking about Coachella] I heard it was really dusty for you.
Neil: It was dusty for everyone. And the sand blows in the gear. But
F: Oh my god, I’m going to freak out.
[?rmly] No, you mustn’t do that.
F: Thank you for making my teen
Talking to two male fans about Dubai:
Neil: Will we
like Dubai? I don’t know what to expect, other than a lot of tall
M: The tallest building in the world is there.
Chris: I won’t be going up there.
[In fact when they go to Dubai,
they both go up the Burj Khali a.]
A male fan says that they should
play “I want a lover”.
Chris: [dubious] Is that one of our best?
Neil suggests that perhaps they could get Stuart Price to do something
with it, though it doesn’t
sound much like a ?rm plan.
fan asks Neil whether it had been a good idea to go back to the United
Kingdom after his
?rst meeting with Bobby ‘O’.
Neil: I was only
here for a few days.
M: I understood you wanted to stay here.
Neil: No, I’m too English. I like visiting.
A male fan
correctly identi?es the make of Neil’s glasses.
Neil: Are you a
M: No, I’m a label whore.
M: [presenting Neil and
Chris with a poster which includes on it the title of every single Pet
Shop Boys song] The bad news is, I’m not leaving without a picture.
Neil and Chris: [instantly, in union] Yes, you are.
[studying the poster] Is this every song? It doesn’t look that many, does
Chris: We’re not very proli?c, are we?
Some gifts are
presented from a Japanese fan club.
Chris: [gratefully] You know,
these are the ?rst gifts we’ve had. We only do this for the gifts.
After the meet ’n’ greet, Neil eats in catering. Chris retires to the room
with the accurate sign
outside it: Chris’s Nap Room. Back in the main
dressing room, Neil wonders how to make the
room look less bright and
unwelcoming. “Let’s see how we do mood lighting,” he says,
off the main light switch. Much better. “There we are — mood lighting.”
He lies down on the sofa and talks some more about Coachella for a
while. “I was the second
oldest person on stage there, the ?rst being
Bryan Ferry,” he says, and explains how much posher the whole event was
than he expected. “It’s actually on a polo ground. I was disappointed it
wasn’t really in the desert.” The dancers can be heard in the corridor
outside. “The dancers have
taken up knitting,” Neil notes. “They sit in
their dressing room manically knitting.”
He naps for a while, then sits
“It’s contact lens time,” he declares.
evening, New York! We’re back — so soon!” announces Neil between
“Opportunities” and “Love is a bourgeois construct”, early in the show. As
predicted, the venue is rammed with
people, and the atmosphere is
celebratory. Unlike the previous night, smoke hangs in the air and the
lasers ?ll the tight space above the audience thrillingly. (The full
set-list: “Axis”, “One more chance /A face like that”, “Opportunities
(let’s make lots of money)”, “Love is a bourgeois construct”, “Fugitive”,
“Integral”, “I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing”, “Suburbia”, “I’m
not scared”, “Fluorescent”, “West End
“Leaving”, “Thursday”, “Love etc.”, “I get excited (you get excited
too)”, “Rent”, “Miracles”, “It’s a sin”, “Domino dancing”, “Always on my
mind”, “Go west” and “Vocal”.)
“Well,” says Neil, changing
backstage, with trademark understatement, “It wasn’t a disaster.” Although
he then adds, directing the thought to tour manager Andy Crookston, who is
busy opening the Champagne, “God, it’s a small stage.” “It’s the width
that’s the thing,” says Andy. “It’s about ?ve steps across, to be honest,”
Chris drinks a vodka, Neil has Champagne, and also some
Pete Gleadall comes in.
“See?” he says. “Better
microphone, much better sound.”
“Why have we waited until this
show?” Chris asks.
Generally the mood is one of satisfaction, both
about tonight and this whole short American
good,” says Neil. “All the way through last night this guy was going ‘Pet
Shop Boys, you fucking rock!’ It was great. I was singing the whole show
at him.” “They’re so strange, those casino gigs,” says
“It was so cold,” Neil agrees. “I thought that I was going to get
pnemnonia. And the air- conditioning takes away all the smoke, so you
can’t see the lasers.” There is a knock on the door, and in comes an
old friend, Norwegian singer Sondre Lerche; they begin to catch up on news
since they last met.
“You still haven’t done our song,” says Neil. “We
remixed it. We were going through the Fleetwood Mac thing.” “The Tango In
The Night thing,” agrees Sondre. “We’ve come through that,” says Neil.
They discuss when they last saw Sondre play, which, they conclude, was
“That was one of our favourite shows ever,” says Neil. “It
was so great. A jewel of a theatre —
just you and a guitar. Like, I
always think I prefer Elton just with a piano. And you made all these
“I said ‘pronto’ a lot,” demurs Sondre.
“Coming out, we were worried we were going to get mugged,” says Neil. Then
they talk more about the song the Pet Shop Boys gave Sondre. “Now I’ve got
used to your vocals on it,”
Sondre says, to Neil.
what you said eight years ago,” says Neil. “I’m meant to be the backing
vocals. I’m meant to be Lindsay Buckingham — you’re Stevie Nicks.”
Someone asks Neil whether he and Chris saw Kraftwerk at Moogfest.
“No,” he replies, “but they watched us. How nerve-wracking is that?”
“Do you know those guys?” asks Sondre.
“No,” says Neil, as though the
notion is too improbable to entertain. “Does anyone?”
a?ershow drink turns into quite a party, a dozen or so friends drinking
until well past
midnight. At one point Neil says, “It has always bugged
me that we weren’t more successful in
America — we could do a show in Las
Vegas‘. It’d be great.” At another he announces, “I always
say, if I was
a young musician, it’s a great time to reinvent rock — EDM is so rubbish.”
he reminisces about a trip to New York in the mid—Eighties, Chris
interjects “Is that when you interviewed Marilyn?” (It was.) Eventually the
party begins to break up. Though not everyone is
quite convinced that the
night is yet over.
“What I need,” says Neil, “is a hot dog. I know it
sounds terrible. Maybe a little bit of mustard. Of
course, I don’t eat