English electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys released their first album, Please, 30 years ago in 1986. Although probably best known in the US for some of their earliest singles – in particular “West End Girls” and “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” – the pair have maintained a consistent career over the course of their three decades as one of the most distinctive sounding groups in their genre. This year they released Super, their thirteenth studio album, and reached number one on the US dance charts with their song “The Pop Kids.” The band’s US tour recently brought them to Washington, DC, where they played to a sold out crowd at the Warner Theatre.
The band started the set off with a new track, “Inner Sanctum,” with singer Neil Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe obscured behind masks – Tennant with a metallic hat and sunglasses on, and Lowe wearing a large metal sphere on his head. The pair changed outfits several times throughout the set – Tennant removing the hat and switching jackets, and Lowe always hidden behind either a mask or a hat and a pair of sunglasses. Behind them, what was likely one of the most spectacular light shows that the Warner Theatre has ever seen played out, a combination of projections, standard stage lights, and lasers. The band went all the way back to feature “West End Girls” before heading all the way forward to “The Pop Kids.”
From there the music went almost non-stop, with a setlist that spanned their entire career. From “In the Night,” the b-side to the 1985 “Opportunities” single to “Love Is a Bourgeois Construct” from 2013’s Electric, from “New York City Boy” from 1999’s Nightlife to “Love Etc.” from 2009’s Yes, the party went on for over two hours and 20 songs, with the band touching on most of their major albums with at least one track from each. Sprinkled throughout were several more tracks from Super – “Burn,” “Twenty-something,” and “The Dictator Decides” – but the band didn’t dwell on the new material. It probably wouldn’t have mattered if they had – the audience full of massive fans cheered each song as if it was their biggest hit. The group closed out the main set with three tracks that have remained dance club staples to this day – “It’s a Sin” from 1987’s Actually, “Left to My Own Devices” from 1988’s Introspective, and – after teasing the start of “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” (the one really big hit that the duo didn’t play – their cover of The Village People’s “Go West” from 1993’s Very. The band returned for an encore of two more tracks from Introspective, “Domino Dancing” and their cover of “Always On My Mind” (a song made famous by Elvis Presley), and finished off with a reprise of “The Pop Kids.”