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Pet Shop Boys
June 2, 2002
Verizon Wireless Theater - Houston, TX

Samuel Barker
Senior Editor
Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys (picture by Samuel Barker)

When people come out to make a statement, you have to respect them for having the guts to try something new, however, you do not have to enjoy it. When the Pet Shop Boys spent the majority of their hour and a half set covering their newer, mellow material, they made a statement that they had grown up. In the end, the loyal club goers who make up their fan base did not enjoy the statement or care to watch it to the end.

With a set consisting mostly of tracks from their new album, Release, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, better known as the Pet Shop Boys, resembled Enya more than the beat heavy, dance icons that they once were.

When the 2,000-plus crowd filed in, they were looking for a night at the club, only with a live band on stage. But, as many live music fans have learned in the past, you do not always get what you hear from a band on record.

Opening with “Home and Dry” the Pet Shop Boys seemed to be giving an arrant feel to their set and trying to capture a mood that would carry the audience to a sweat-filled frenzy when the hard beats and strobe lights would compliment the dance friendly songs of yesteryear. This was not the case as the set slowly winded through more tracks from Release.

Tennant and Lowe have definitely grown as songwriters and musicians over the past 20 years, and this was clear in the layering of their new songs. The refreshment of the fan looking for progression was unfortunately overshadowed by the desire to dance the night away.

The dark lights and simplistic stage set up gave made the set come off as quite a bore to a majority of the concert-goers, who just swayed along until it was finally too much to handle as most headed for an early exit to a place where they could dance.

When the set began you could feel the energy in the audience as Lowe manned his keyboards to a roaring ovation, only to be followed by an even louder eruption when Tennant took the stage and received his acoustic guitar. It was a shame to see the audience unwilling to accept the duos venture into a more creative and artistic realm, but sometimes you cannot push your audience too far without receiving a backlash.

The final surge of early hits like “West End Girls” and “Love Come Quickly” were rewarding to the audience who had actually sat through the exploration of sound. The Pet Shop Boys showed they were matured and that they had a lot of musical vision, but when the audience expected something to dance to, they were left with a dwindling crowd and a few shocked stragglers who could not wait to hit the dance club next door.


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