Pet Shop Boys at Sony Centre – September 25, 2013

Photographs by Lee-Ann Wylie

It may come as a surprise to many that the English duo, the Pet Shop Boys have released 12 studio albums over the course of almost 30 years.  No need for the ubiquitous “hiatus”, the boys have released consistently enjoyable albums that have met with increasingly muted responses.

With the current “EDM” craze dominating Top 40 playlists, the boys’ latest banging album, Electric, should be a natural fit for those needing to shake their hips while listening to hit radio.  Recent more high profile albums by Madonna and Lady Gaga pale in comparison to the almost hour of relentless dance-floor anthems – with barely a breather.  Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant sound like they have a new lease on life with a spark of energy that defies a band approaching 30 years in the game.

Their Electric tour rolled into Toronto’s Sony Centre last night.  Packed with a surprisingly broad spectrum of fans (with a heavy concentration of gay guys) the duo, assisted by two very surreal dancers, delivered almost two hours of dance-floor bliss with a visual component set to stun!

Opening with “Axis” from their new album, the boys were behind a sheer screen for the first few songs, while a large backdrop featured a rapid tunnel ride, a perfect accompaniment to the largely instrumental track.

Initially the notoriously frigid Toronto crowd lived up to their reputation, with the majority remaining seated until four songs along, the screen came down for “Opportunities”. The crowd was quick to thaw and were on their feet dancing, eventually giving in to wild abandon.  And how could anyone resist?  Dropping hits between selections from Electric and the somber Elysium, it was a high-energy dance party.

The sound was a bit on the quiet end of the spectrum to start, but this was overshadowed by a bordering-on-obnoxious laser show.  Dancers provided a short respite between the many costume changes and kept the crowd’s momentum.  By the time they rolled out a stunning turbo version of “It’s A Sin”, the sound had recovered to a respectable level and set off a feeling of communal euphoria that would continue with a sin-along “Domino Dancing” and set closer, “Always On My Mind” that climaxed with a bust of confetti into the adoring crowd.

Returning quickly for an encore the crowd lent their pipes to “Go West” before ending the night with a laser-ridden “Vocal”, a highlight from the new album.

With so many songs to choose from, it would be easy to pick out songs they didn’t play, and they didn’t play a lot of songs I would have liked to hear.  They didn’t touch Nightlife or Release, but the songs they did present were so well executed, it was hard to leave the venue without a smitten grin.  In the words of the kids today, the Pet Shop Boys killed it.

Thanks to Live Nation Ontario for media access.

About author

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.