Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pandemonium hits New York City

Just returned from seeing the Pet Shop Boys at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. Except for a glitch during the beginning of "New York City Boy", they were fabulous, as always.

With all the zing you expect from a PSB show, they incorporated the artwork elements from their current longplayer, "Yes", with a combination of visual vignettes that were projected on the back of the stage and cube headed backing singers in brightly colored costumes. The backing singers were also super fit, trained dancers which gave the show movement which counterpoints Neil's and Chris' penchant for standing still. Although the backing singers were fantastic, I could help but miss Sylvia Mason-James and her rich, diva tones.

The song selection cast a wide net over their entire catalog. They even performed a few nuggets they either rarely or never played live like early favorites "Why Can't We Live Together?" and "Two Divided By Zero". During the show, which is divided into four acts, PSB manipulated some of their tunes by fusing two songs into a medley or incorporating bits of different songs within others. And there is one surprise in the shape of "Do I Have To?", a song that only ever appeared on the b-side of "Always On My Mind", which opens the ballet section of the concert.

Their cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" was masterful. It, too, featured slivers of other songs within it. In this case starting the track as "Discoteca" (from the album, "Bilingual"), then injecting bits of "Domino Dancing" (from "Introspective") before rolling into their rendition of Coldplay's finest moment. Hopefully, a studio version of "Viva La Vida" has been lovingly produced for future release (minus the bits of other PSB songs). It is screaming to be a single.

The set list went as follows:

1. More Than A Dream (Magical Dub) (truncated)
2. Heart
3. Did You See Me Coming?
4. Pandemonium/Can You Forgive Her? (medley)
5. Love Etc.
6. Building A Wall (incorporating "Integral")
7. Go West (incorporating "Paninaro" and "Opportunites (Let's Make Lots Of Money)")
8. Two Divided By Zero
9. Why Don't We Live Together? (incorporating "Left To My Own Devices")
10. Always On My Mind
11. New York City Boy
12. Closer To Heaven (truncated)
13. Left To My Own Devices
14. Do I Have To?
15. King's Cross
16. The Way It Used To Be
17. Jealousy
18. Suburbia
19. All Over The World
20. Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is)
21. Viva La Vida (incorporating "Discoteca" and "Domino Dancing")
22. It's A Sin
23. Being Boring
24. West End Girls

Unfortunately, the sound at the Hammerstein Ballroom leaves a lot to be desired. It's not exactly built for modern, concert acoustics. As the evening continued, the sound seemed to deteriorate as the show got progressively louder at which point everything got a little crunchy. Chris and Neil were flawless except for a pitch glitch at the start of "New York City Boy". Someone's wasn't hitting the right notes. Not sure if it was Neil's vocal or Chris' playing that caused the problem. Hopefully, the sound will be better when I see them again on September 3 at Constitution Hall in Washington DC.

And here's one for those dedicated to design. It's a shot of the stylish tour program. It's completely black and white throughout with the exception of the gold foil on the front cover. Classy!


For the most part, they played everything from "Yes", their latest longplayer. One notable omission? They did not perform "Beautiful People", the current song for which I am producing a new version.


  1. Thank you for review and setlist, but your picture isn't visible.

  2. Thanks for the review. I saw them in London and it's great show even if a bit short and without lots of hits (Rent, Streets, Flamboyant, Opportunities...) I don't know why they doesn't consider their 90's albums for the setlists...
    Hey Vinny, why is been your remix deleted by Beautiful People tracklist?

  3. @Young Offender - If you think about it, they played so many songs that they had to mash them up with other songs. The sign of a truly original and long standing, successful group.

    As for the "BP" mixes... Watch this space. Deadlines at record companies can be quite unreasonable at time. But keep checking back here.

  4. @ Vinny: thanks for your answer. Even if a lot of songs are included as medley, I'm not a fan of this kind of things, I preffer to listen the full song that one hidden in another one. A couple of medleys for a live are OK but for me are too much in this this tour.
    Well, I'll check your updates, I was looking forward to your mix, but maybe I'll have to wait...