We use cookies on this website to improve how it works and how it’s used. For more information on our cookie policy please read our Privacy Policy

Accept & Continue

Pet Shop Boys returned to the Birmingham Utilita Arena fresh off the back of a new one-worded album (“Nonethless”…of course), and a re-vamped working of their greatest hits tour “Dreamworld”, which is essentially a victory-lap of great pop moments from a duo that know all about them.

This being Pet Shop Boys, the tour comes with a manifesto of sorts – all the songs performed are singles, most of them hits, and the ones that aren’t – as Neil Tennant drily admits – are “hits in our imagination”.

But what an imagination…

We’re straight in with a trio of bangers.  The wide-screen dystopia of “Suburbia” kicks us off, segueing into the fever-dream swagger of “Can You Forgive Her” and onto the Italo-disco clash of “Opportunities”.  The opening section is peppered with rare Chris Lowe cameos, instructing the audience – in a broad Blackpool accent – that “sooner or later…this happens to everyone”.

All the bangers are present and correct, from “Go West” (complete with lovingly-curated 1970’s San Franciso visuals) to the cathedral pomp of “It’s A Sin”. But away from the stone-cold classics, other hits across the years reveal their greatness.  “It’s Alright” takes the house music experimentation of their 1988 album “Introspective” and cranks up the volume, while the imperious “Left to My Own Devices” – with the iconic line “Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat” sums up the group’s aesthetic perfectly.

Three singles from their new album fit seamlessly into the set with “Dancing Star”, a distant cousin of “Domino Dancing”, and the gorgeously lilting “A New Bohemia” taking a weary shrug at the current absence of the creative scenes they were part of the in 70’s and 80’s. By the time we get to the encore – a double sucker punch of the furtive London glamour of “West End Girls” and the elegiac “Being Boring”, we’re left with just Neil and Chris positioned between two street lamps, one in a suit and one in cap and hoody, still slightly mysterious and unknowable. It could be 1985 all over again.

One of their “imagined” lost hits – 2013’s “Vocal” – sums up the night perfectly.  “It’s in the music, it’s in the song. Everyone I hoped to be around has come along”.  Succinct, pop genius. 

How very Pet Shop Boys.

Five stars

Reviewed by Tim Bisset at Utilita Arena Birmingham, Friday 8 June