Pet Shop Boys @ Fox Theater, Oakland 10/5/13
People hardly ever arrive at shows before the time printed on the ticket. This was not the case in Oakland on Saturday. Most of the Fox Theater’s sell-out crowd had already staked out their spots for Pet Shop Boys before the opener began.
A stage-consuming video screen announced the arrival of Jacques Lu Cont, aka producer extraordinaire Stuart Price. Despite “Inside A Dream” (from PSB’s Price-helmed Electric) cutting out unexpectedly, Lu Cont had a ball, singing along whether his selections had lyrics or not. The audience was mostly oblivious to his nondescript techno set, only paying close attention during remixes of Miike Snow and The Killers.
After one of the shortest breaks in recent memory, amidst deafening roars, the screen sprang to life again. “Axis” heralded Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s entrance, accompanied by high-speed visuals reminiscent of Madonna‘s “Ray of Light” video. Inflatable versions of Pet Shop Boys’ initials took to the air. Two black conical hats and Koosh ball-looking coats performed “One More Chance” behind Oz-like projections. A few faces fell when Tennant bellowed “good evening San Francisco!” But why split hairs with electronic pop legends celebrating their FOURTH decade in the business?
Strobelights and multi-colored lasers emblazoned the stage, video images flickered furiously. Tennant, Lowe, and an exuberant pair of dancers went through half a dozen costume changes: Minotaur headdresses, disco ball helmets, bulbous orange craniums, stilt suits, and giant gold pom-pons on pogo sticks.
Art deco circuitry complemented the Fox’s architecture beautifully, but no one was going to leave humming the scenery. The primary spectacle remained PSB’s deep discography. Tennant’s piercing tenor was in top form, and Lowe made being confined to a console look like the coolest job ever.
Classics like “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” and “Suburbia” cozied up to the pulsating “Fluorescent” and “Thursday,” a glorious throwback to the UK duo’s beginnings. They confidently dropped “West End Girls” in the middle of the set. Even the normally dour “Leaving” was adrenalized by the show’s sensory-overloading gaiety.
Tennant sang the first verse of “Domino Dancing” before conducting the audience through the rest. “Always On My Mind” and orange confetti cannons were a jaw-dropping coda, but the inevitable encore ended in the present. “Vocal,” Electric’s euphoria-inducing final track, is proof that Pet Shop Boys are nowhere near finished astounding our eyes or ears.
For more badass photos of the show, go HERE.