Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pet Shop Boys (The SOB Review) - Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

Pet Shop Boys (The SOB Review) - Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

**** (out of ****)

Given the unusually high theatrical quotient in Saturday night's concert by electronica-pop duo Pet Shops Boys -- right down to elaborate set, lighting and projection design to choreography, as well as to an intermission during a performance on a stage typically reserved for Broadway productions -- it seems entirely apropos to review their show here.

Pet Shops Boys, of course, is the 80s creation of Brits Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. The former is the member who talk-sings his way through their repertoire of international hits, while the latter obligingly stands throughout the performance virtually unanimated at his keyboard, playing each hit sans emotion or styling. But longtime fans of the duo would expect nothing else. In this case, through the assistance of three outstanding back-up singers and two breathtaking dancers, their music of the last twenty years comes to life.

While there's more cheekiness than bite to their lyrics, the Pet Shop Boys delve into fertile political satire with fare like “I’m With Stupid,” which lampoons the unflinchingly blind support of British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the policies of U.S. President George W. Bush through an engaging video backdrop of whirling imagery including the Union Jack, Stars and Stripes and close-up shots of both leaders’ eyes and mouths.

The second act of the Pet Shops Boys’ concert includes a steady stream of some of their biggest hits, including “West End Girls” and “It’s A Sin,” along with anthemic turns on such borrowed hits as “Always On My Mind,” “Where The Streets Have No Name/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” and their rousing finale, “Go West.” Each number is brilliantly staged with eye-popping choreography against a versatile back lit series of white boxes that frame movement with a visually arresting projection design.

Because the set, lighting and projection design, as well as choreography, are so innovative, about my only regret with this oh-so theatrical presentation is that there was no Playbill to tell us who was responsible for each component. But that seems rather inconsequential considering that this was a performance that dazzled while delivering the goods -- most of the Pet Shop Boys’ classic favorites were included in the show. Fans of their music will surely love this mesmerizing show; non-fans would be hard-pressed not to at least feel good after taking in the infectious concert.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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