By Neil Durham
WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHEN?: Sunday 22 May 2022, tour runs until 16 October 2022
SETLIST: Suburbia; Can You Forgive Her?; Opportunities; Where The Streets Have No Name; Rent; I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Anymore; So Hard; Left To My Own Devices; Single – Bilingual; Domino Dancing; Monkey Business; New York City Boy; You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk; Jealousy; Love Comes Quickly; Losing My Mind; You Were Always On My Mind; Dreamland; Heart; It’s Alright; Vocal; What Have I Done To Deserve This?; Go West; It’s A Sin; West End Girls; Being Boring
We popped our Pet Shop Boys live cherry in 1989 at the old Wembley Arena and this greatest hits gig means we’ve seen the duo, we think, 14 times across each of the last 5 decades.
- Read on for reasons including how, amidst all the hits, there were 2 very special moments
This is the 8th show of the Dreamworld: The Greatest Hits Live Tour and certainly the most visually striking performance we’ve ever seen the band give with designer Tom Scutt (Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre) creating a spectacle for the eyes that sets the bar incredibly high for other arena shows.
It’s a tour that has been delayed for so long that, reading the £25 programme written by Popjustice’s Peter Robinson, we discover that Scutt began work on Cabaret and won awards for it between Dreamworld’s original opening night in 2020 and the revised start date in May 2022.
The last time team monstagigz saw Neil and Chris was when they headlined London’s Hyde Park for a televised show on a Sunday night in September 2019 and it’s a Sunday evening once more when we join them again 32 months later.
We’re in row 22 in this enormous venue and spot Arthur Darvill (currently starring in Oklahoma at the Young Vic) ahead of us and have seen on social media that Marc Almond and David Walliams were there too.
The aim of the lamp posts, lines and amazing LED lights is to take the audience on a journey from Suburbia, tonight’s opener, to London, then global, into space and then back down to earth.
The boys headline Glastonbury‘s Other Stage on Sunday 26 June and if this set is televised there and comes across half as well as the joy with which it is received here then, dear viewer, you will be in for a treat.
Stephen Sondheim died last year and his Losing My Mind is particularly effective with projections onto a screen adding to the sheer meltdown of the song as it leaps, brilliantly, into Always On My Mind.
We’re reminded of other gigs where there’s an occasional rush towards the stage when the 1 beloved hit that a band is most known for is played. Here there’s no such rush because it’s hit after hit, reeled off from the get go.
We particularly enjoy 2 often favourite yet overlooked gems – So Hard and Domino Dancing.
We love that Chris has adopted a ‘God is a DJ’ spot above yet behind Neil for much of the show and think we spot him disappear from it for a break during You Only Tell Me Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk as Neil wields an acoustic guitar.
We agree with Tennant as he remarks ‘that 1 scrubs up rather well’ after 80s number 1 Heart replete with disco whooshes and laugh as he points out the ‘old ravers’ – us included – lapping up It’s Alright morphing into the more recent Vocal.
Special mention to the 3-strong band, including 2 drummers, who bring a real live dynamism to the music and to producer Stuart Price who has reworked the back catalogue here. It’s A Sin in particular just sounds even bigger and better every time we hear it live.
At the end of what has been a hugely enjoyable celebration of the most successful British duo in pop history there are 2 understated moments which prove also how thoughtful they can be.
Tennant nods to Ukraine during West End Girls switching a line to ‘from Mariupol to Kyiv station’ and dedicates the poignant, reflective and melancholy Being Boring – perhaps their classiest song – to those we have lost. One word – P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-A-L.