“I don’t really speak Spanish,” said Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, sporting a plume of black feathers atop his hat, “But you are fabulous, Santiago – fabuloso!”
itemId=13559 Photo by Solange Reyes Poblete
Not as fabuloso as their arrival back onto a Santiago stage, complete with glimmering outfits and heads boxed in by brightly colored cubes for the first few songs. The British duo’s third return to the city in a career spanning more than two decades saw them play in front of over eight thousand fans at Santiago’s Movistar Arena on Wednesday 7th October.
itemId=11659 Photo by Mauro Tapia
The band performed highlights from their new album Yes, and older hits like the classic “West End Girls,” their synth–pop sound veering further into modern electro on the newer tracks.
Eccentric sets, brought into action by four very flexible and versatile dancers, maintained a tongue-in-cheek glamour throughout the show. An explosion of silver confetti marked the finale of “It’s a Sin,” while the New York City skyline (animated by the dancers) joined Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe on stage for a few numbers – even motivating the usually static Lowe to join in with a few moves.
A giant wall constructed from white cubes started out as a screen for video projections before crashing down in a cataclysmic climax to “Building a Wall,” a song from the new album in which Tennant chants, “I’m building a wall. A fine wall. Not so much to keep you out, more to keep me in.”
itemId=11649 Photo by Mauro Tapia
On a more optimistic note, the remains of the wall rose up into a pyramid for a rendition of “Go West,” with two bright lycra- clad dancers marching along in reference to both the original Village People song from the late 70s and the early 90s remake by the Pet Shop Boys. The duo’s take on the song, distinguished from the original by a tone of almost melancholic longing for a libertarian promised land, struck a particularly resonant note for some in the audience.
“For me The Pet Shop Boys are one of the groups who did a lot to say what it is like to be homosexual and to live in a very difficult society. In Chile people can still be very conservative in this sense,” said audience member Pablo, 24, who was at the show with a group of friends.
itemId=11639 Photo by Mauro Tapia
The band’s status as gay icons has been well established since the 80s. They drew a mixed crowd of fans – young Chileans, British expats, and even a few families with children in tow.
“I remember listening to them with friends when I was younger – those years were a lot of fun,” said Marcela, 37, who was there with her younger sister.
Tennant’s sweet, crystal clear vocals remain as youthful sounding as on their very first record Please from 1986, when they had their first breakthrough with “West End Girls.”
Both Tennant, 55, and Lowe, 50, are still full of energy, thriving on the drama of their live act. Studio-wise they are producing music that’s well within their established style, but have stayed interesting. The new songs are catchy and the themes are always relevant, with potential to keep old fans compelled and new generations coming.
The Pet Shop Boys