The NYT has an appreciative review of the Pet Shop Boys' American tour today. I went Sunday night with my other half in DC. I'm a fan, which is to say, I'm not a very good critic of the work of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. From the sound of the crowd, there were a lot of fans in the audience, and the PSBs seemed genuinely taken aback by the fervor. In DC? The diversity of the audience was as striking as its passion: not many rock concerts can claim a plurality of middle-aged gay men, a vast throng of hip twenty and thirtysomething straights, elderly couples, young families with children, and the odd Republican-looking matron, swaying gleefully to and fro, with pearls bobbing up and down.
The PSBs are unpretentious and they gave us what we came for: the classics ("West End Girls", "Suburbia," "Always on My Mind") and new variations on new songs ("Home and Dry", "Minimal"). I wept during "Dreaming of the Queen," played over a simple video of the funeral procession for Diana. It resonated with many of us gay men in our forties:
"There are no more lovers left alive.
No one has survived.
So there are no more lovers left alive
And that's why love has died.
Yes, it's true.
Look, it's happened to me and you."
Suddenly, all those faces returned to me: the men I once knew who couldn't be there. Then there was the political anthem, "Integral," which speaks to the ineluctable logic of the national security state, permanently at war, with civil liberties suspended, and guilt always assumed before innocence:
"If you've done nothing wrong
You've got nothing to fear.
If you've something to hide
You shouldn't even be here.
You've had your chance,
Now we've got the mandate.
If you've changed your mind
I'm afraid it's too late."
Here's their latest video, a typically Russian-themed visual epic to the tune of their latest release, "Numb."
They give me hope. Even when I feel none.