The first leg of the Super Tour kicked off this month for the Pet Shop Boys in North America. The electronic pop duo, comprised of vocalist Neil Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe, are currently promoting Super. This latest album was completed earlier this year with producer Stuart Price, who worked on the Electric album with them in 2013. The Pet Shop Boys brought their futuristic costumes and light show to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, Canada, on Saturday, October 24.
It’s not a surprise to see just how wild the crowds go when the Pet Shop Boys perform live. Their career, spanning over 30 years, makes it easy for them to outshine any group that tackles electronic dance music these days. And they do it with seemingly little effort on their part. Tennant and Lowe understand how to bring in the right mix of special effects. The vocals and the electronic music still reign supreme over the fancy light work and interesting costumes.
The set on stage is relatively simple, with a couple of white circular panels, a black screen, and colorful spheres. The magic comes in the variety of the lights rendered on these shapes, hurtling the lasers right up into the physical space of the theatre. The moving lines, cubes, and circles in neon colors – it’s a palette which follows the one they used on the artwork in promotional materials for Super. These artistic choices by designer Es Devlin complemented the music and were something to marvel at rather than detract from the performance.
My attention was focused primarily on Tennant, because he moved around on the stage more than Lowe. Both gentlemen changed their headgear, including full helmets covering Lowe’s face, different caps, and sunglasses. Tennant started out with a dome-shaped helmet with squares projecting off of the top. He eventually went without headgear for the duration of the concert, opting for some great coat choices. I loved the headgear, but I think going without it works better for Tennant. His face was quite expressive as he sang and interacted with the audience.
The music for the evening pulled standout tracks from the new album, such as “The Dictator Decides,” “Twenty-Something,” and “Pop Kids.” It’s a good mix of happy electronic beats, tinged with darkness, irony, and playfulness. Of course, it’s not a complete night without hits like “West End Girls,” “It’s a Sin,” “Go West,” and “Always on My Mind.” I enjoyed their new version of “Left to My Own Devices,” seamlessly shifting the new wave classic into the era of electronic dance music.
The Super Tour really lives up to its name as a super tour that you shouldn’t miss. The Pet Shop Boys will continue hitting stops in North America through mid-November before moving overseas to the U.K., Europe, and even Russia. For information on dates and tickets, see their official website.