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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pet Shop Boys' Pandemonium tour art review part 1

Pet Shop Boys Pandemonium tour art review
Live at the O2 Arena, London December 21, 2009

This tour starts off with a animated simulation of different parts of London and angles of the Arena and each frame or different scene, you can see a cube formulating and getting larger while “More Than a Dream (magical dub mix)” submerging to “Heart”.  The designer is Es Devlin, which previously did the Fundamental tour that is also called Cubism on the DVD. I like the fact that she was on this commentary. I would have also liked to hear her view on Fundamental as well. I would have to say that between the two concerts, they practically meet a equilibrium of colors, art, costumes, and energy and having a newer generation around an old one.  This includes a CD version but it doesn’t have all the songs on it like the DVD does, the following is not on the CD: “Jealousy”, “The Way It Used to Be”, ”Building a Wall”, “What Have I Done to Deserve This”, and “All Over the World”. The DVD extras include: “My Girl” (Live at the O2), “It Doesn’t Often Snow at Christmas” (live at the O2),  “Love, etc”(music video), “All Over the World”(music video), “Did You See Me Coming”(music video), 2009 BRIT Awards performance featuring Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers(The Killers) and an audio commentary by the Pet Shop Boys and Es Devlin. This is concert is based from their album Yes along with their previous released songs and then some cover songs. This to me is a triumph type of concert because they still around and still make music and having a lot of vintage of their past and so on and the vivid display represents a feel of an excitement of an accomplishment.

 I like the uniformity of “Heart” in the performance of it. The theme with the cubes and even the fact the musicians themselves: Neil and Chris, which Devlin begged them to wear the boxes on their heads, along with the two females dancers that are twins. It seems that the projections never really fail for these guys. I mean they used projections in MCMLXXIX, Somewhere, Discovery, Montage, and Fundamental, all previous tours. The method that was used was different and unique because they used fifty cardboard boxes with a projection reflecting on them.  Especially seeing cubes within cubes almost like optical illusion really. I like how also too that the two dancers that were on keyboard looking like they were assisting Chris, and then both were balanced too, color balance because one was wearing the warm colors and the other was wearing cooler colors, a very excellent contrast. Now back to the projections, it was suppose to be a slick trick to make it seem like it was two big screens. Then the balloons are suppose to be a reference to their Christmas EP according to Neil in the commentary. Of course he does the signature hand over heart move.  Then onwards to “Did You See Me Coming” bit where Neil sings a line “Every night is Friday night, welcome to my life, every night is Friday Night” and you see the other two dancers on the cubes and digitalized and pixelated and vivid: a clash between opposing colors, and they are doing gestures almost like sign language but with the body while the lyrics is heard. “Pandemonium” and “Can You Forgive Her” are submerged(making a small point, Pandemonium is supposedly to sound like Amii Stewart) I like this visualization here because it’s a bird’s eye view of what’s going on and the colors really fit the tones, giving some mix of happiness and chaotic.  And when the singing starts you can see their heads, it’s also symbolic in way, but they are oblivious to what’s going on. Neil and Chris are black and white so that also proves that point too. Then afterwards you hear a brief welcome by Neil, and then “Love, Etc” plays like the video was edited for the concert, “Love, Etc” was also had a cut out from the song. “I believe, we can achieve, love between need, I believe, call me naïve, love is for free” I agree, it does sound pretty awkward. I also noticed Devlin pointed out how Neil was standing in the right position, because if he was slightly off, he would have cast a shadow on the boxes, it really does reveal how practice and memory are important. And then part where the song ends and Neil’s hands are stretched out it was right on cue where the pac-man versions of them were going in opposing directions; art is meant to be taken seriously, because even the little can make a giant mess.  Now you have it where Chris is banging on the flat drums. I like the greyscale tones he have around him, great usage of uniformity there. “Building a Wall” and “Integral” are submerged together next and you see pixelated versions of Neil and Chris on the big screens. I also forgot to point out, I also see two set of the screens on the left and right top parts of the arena but they look kind of 3-D, it kind of brings a reminiscence of the previous concert Cubism,(Fundamental) or the idea of it. I like how Neil’s voice got robotic during the chorus of “Building a Wall” and I also like the symmetry of them speaking well the screening part. And then by Chris banging the drums, it gives it some kind of intensity of the song like something is about to happen, and he did play the drums before. Then you see the two dancers in the screen moving and putting blocks to cover the heads up but they multiply as they putting them on there, I like how they are dressed in two primary colors. It’s pretty funny to see that the screen version of Neil and Chris are going away and let the real ones show it it’s done. This mash up was okay, but I like the previous two better, even though one was just used as instrumental. Devlin pointed out that the two screens were exactly proportional to the ones were used back in the Fundamental tour. I like how the screen tumbled down like a wall, which makes because of the song., and the lighting gives it more of a feel that it was the one that knocked them down. Then you see some of the crew members moving the props around, so the dancers and musicians won’t fall or trip of anything. Then “Go West” begins then you see Sean Williams and Charlotte Walcott for the first time, the twins’ names are Sophie and Polly Duniam. Again great lighting and usage of color and using one of the dancers as part of the visual, but I still have a love hate on the visual of the music video. But this on here, I’m fine with. This visual was filmed before the tour, and Sean is wearing a wig, which quite a shock, had no idea. I like the organization of the movements here, they are exactly like the visual. I also like to bring up that red, green, blue, and yellow are actually color are from the original clocks they had back in the day, I used to have some, so it’s pretty cool it gives off that youthful feel (in my opinion) Then you can see Charlotte in it too, I like the gender change and the ethnicity, very cultural. And Neil points out this version of “Go West” have the rhythmic track of “Paninaro” I didn’t hear it at first until I played it again. Devlin points out that the boxes are cardboard but reinforced and have to be flameproof, I never heard of that before, no wonder why they are expensive! Then when the song change it’s key, then you the two dancers in different colors on the screen in multiples, and you can here the other two dancers singers singing in the background, when it’s their cue. Then the dancers that are on stage moved the boxes around for the next seen, the symbols on the visual was very good, you have multi-cultural feel, to get the viewers attention.

The second part you here “Two Divided by Zero” and then submerged with “Why Don’t We Live Together” mind you that the beginning of this sounds like Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” and you hear a electronic voice saying “PSB and NYC, and then the count off of one through four” along with the versatile (very vintage because people don’t use them anymore according to Devlin) and then you hear the original “Two Divided by Zero” voice. Then you see a digitalized version of New York in the early 80’s , so it kind of brings you back on how they started off recording really based on what Neil said; very symbolic. Then you Chris with his deadly mirror shard covered jacket and Neil with his modern nylon jacket from Lexinburg *, it was sale supposedly, it symbolizes the Run-Dmc look, based on what Neil says. Chris’ jacket was made by a guy name Jeffrey Bryant and it was done in six weeks. And crazy thing Chris’ jacket almost put Neil’s eye out too, and then Chris’ neck too; which is why they have to be in separate areas to change I’m pretty sure that Chris is keeping that jacket, no one can touch if he wears it! The vividness of the visual gives it also a midnight metropolis idea.  And you see the twin dancers dressed up like flashy dancers with nice shoes. Devlin points out that It’s a fashion show, the idea was that Charlotte and Sean went off to New York, they went West, China, and ended up in New York with nameless fashion people.” So really in a way it’s telling a story pretty much like Performance was doing. Then you see Sean dancing with the female fashion dressed dancers, in a different, fashionable clothes, And again until the next song. This time they dressed up as building in New York, one I can point out at the moment is the Empire State Building, and they are made out of cardboard. It’s amazing how something so simple can be used again and again. The costumes look very comical, then you hear a bit of “In the Night”  I also here bits of “Opportunities” as well. Then the dancers are doing an iconic dance number inspired by Madonna’s “Dress You Up” which Chris also dances too. I like the fact he didn’t leave the commentary room, like he did in Performance, even though he didn’t see himself dance in here either, but he stayed thankfully. In costume, I don’t know if it was out of coincidence, but Neil, Chris and the dancers are on a greyscale in costume-wise which is very symmetrical, and you here a line from their song “Left to my Own Devices” towards the end of the song. Then you here “New York City Boy” playing instead of a digital version of New York, you see actual clips of it, but they are from the videos of “Was It Worth It?” and “New York City Boy” and you see the singers/dancers dressed up in their uniformed outfits with more symmetry there only this time in color form.  Everything is pretty much balanced and I noticed they took some bits off on this song too. Then “Always on My Mind” plays and Neil points out that Chris is reading music on that screen he’s looking at, and they did it on their last tour, some Chris can’t remember by memory and some he can, I’m guessing the most used songs he can remember by heart and then vice versa.  The visuals are a reminiscent of Newcastle and Blackpool, because it’s where they are from and you occasional cube looking like amplifiers when you audio coming out. This was also used at the Brits, but was something else at first, more abstract based on Devlin but they needed something popping out, which she’s right because you need a contrast of something otherwise it would be a conflict or conflicting the point was being conveyed. When the dancers are jumping on a trampoline, it kind of reminded me of New Order’s “True Faith” music video somehow, I don’t know why. It was interesting that Neil pointed out that this wasn’t the best crowd they had, I wonder what peoples’ thought were if they heard this commentary. Sounds pretty disappointing but hey, you can’t please everyone right? The visual of the cubes matched the lighting, which was cool, it’s funny how the colors are all bright but the song is cynical, what a strange irony isn’t it? Then “Closer to Heaven/Left to my Devices” have started, I like the visual on this because of the Rubix cube comeback and you see the dancers dancing and getting in position. I like the effect of the falling boxes (possible explosion bit too) and then you can see it being part of the screen very 3-D, which is neat. The clock kind of gives him the idea of turning back time because these are their older songs with the exception of a few of them, and then you see more objects like cellphones, teapots, balloons, part of the cubes, etc coming out and the guy made it where it was close to the lyrics. Then the explosion goes in reverse, almost reminds me of the idea of Soft Cell’s "Bedsitter" line: ”Start the Nightlife over again” then it goes forward and slow, it really basically picks up the rhythm of Neil singing really and the song, and then goes backwards again.  It does bring a musical theater tone. Yeah, I agree with Neil, it’s a lot of work, that’s why it’s a lot to cover. Since the “Left to my Own Devices” line was used now he uses names and reverberates lines from it and “Heart” which makes sense for this because the same guy who did it was the same one who did the “Heart” visual. The lighting light movements are a rock based idea. This was indeed color coordinated.


“Do I Have To?/Kings Cross” This is where the only song that was tracked meaning Chris is actually playing by hand, I like this because it gives Chris another spotlight moment, and the song gives a romantic dark feel, but it’s moment where Neil and the girls getting a costume change. But I think by him wearing the mirror jacket still for this moment was a brilliant idea, because the lighting was perfect and he glows! It was pretty comedic because that a short riff and getting costume change it like their clock. Chris calls it his embarrass look, looks like a bashful look to me, finally seeing him playing on a keyboard like almost how he was playing on a pipe organ on Life in Pop. They call it a toilet break, it was pretty funny, then you hear this song have an extra sound in it. Now you see Neil in a tuxedo top and the twins in red all over, color coordination here. I actually always thought there would be a music video for this song because it’s a beautiful song, but it’s the best you can get from this. This is another vintage moment where you get the 40’s ballroom hand gesture according to Devlin, and I agree with Neil when he pointed out the surrealism of the dancers with the cubes and doing something back in the 40’s, but that’s how art can really be. Devlin gives a nice visualization, but I won’t say it, it’s up to you to buy the DVD/CD or hear the commentary yourself. I like the opposing colors of red and green, it gives it a intense passion feel for it. And speaking of surreal, it’s even more surreal that someone wearing a mirror jacket is playing on a keyboard to being the 40’s back. Now you have “Kings Cross” playing then you see light or became bright. You also get another reminiscent by the late Derek Jarman, a footage of “Kings Cross” (which also have bits from the “Rent” video in it as well; that was used for Pet Shop Boys’ MCMLXXXIX tour, it’s a well over 20 years old. You also hear the singers in the back.

I will continue the rest of this concert art review on another post soon, since this is going to be a long one. Stay Tuned! 

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