Pet Shop Boys (Singapore Indoor Stadium, August 2002)

At some point I really must write about the Sonic Youth gig I went to in my last weeks in London but for now I will be content with swearing undying love for the Pet Shop Boys, who I saw on Monday.

Due to my brother’s obsession with them, they were the soundtrack to my childhood. Before I was snarling Who’s bad? into hairbrushes I was crooning I love yoooou, you pay my rent, though obviously not even remotely understanding what the song was about at the time. I learnt the meanings of “suburbia” and “left to my own devices” from the Pet Shop Boys dictionary before I ever came across them in books. I think a big reason why I like vocoders is because they make everyone sound like Neil Tennant.

I will not make cowardly attempts to maintain indie cred and pretend I only like PSB because of their kitsch appeal. I did not sit coolly back at Monday’s gig, quirking my lip occasionally at oh, the 80ness of it all. No, I pumped my fists in the air and jumped around crazily for the I love you bay-bee section of Where The Streets Have No Name, pointed west for Go West, screamed out ALL the lyrics to Left To My Own Devices and would generally have domino danced the night away if they’d gone on that long.

Yish and I had initially been quite dismayed at finding out, after we’d bought our tickets, that this tour wouldn’t involve Lycra-clad dancers and other high-campness. But seriously, completely discounting what I just described myself doing in the above paragraph, there’s so much more I love about the Pet Shop Boys than that. I think the aspect of songcraft that involves matching lyrics with music that’s right for them is deceptively simple, and rarely well achieved. I’ve written about this before but let me elaborate: enjoying some bands really is all about the music for me – I don’t know most of the lyrics to my indie rock albums because they’re much less relevant to my appreciation of those albums than, say, the sound of a warping wall of guitar. Pavement can (and does) sing whatever meaningless burblings they want and I’ll still like listening to them. But there are other bands where the lyrics, even if they’re unimpressive on paper, are somehow so enmeshed with the music in my consciousness, that without those words the song is not the song I love. And apart from the Silver Jews and Simon and Garfunkel, no one else seems to do that as well for me as the Pet Shop Boys.

I think I just lost a lot of musical credibility. With, like, everyone.