All the gigs of my life

All the gigs of my life: Gig 138 – Pet Shop Boys, Sunday, February 19, 2017, Manchester Arena

Rounding off an excellent weekend Up North with a gig from the Pet Shop Boys.

It was February 2017 and I was having an unusually busy weekend. I’d hurtled north to Liverpool on the Saturday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mansun’s incredible debut album, and on Sunday it was time for a jaunt to Manchester to see the Pet Shop Boys on their “Super” tour. It’s safe to say that it was a much more active weekend than my nearly 42 year old self was used to, and I found myself very weary by the time I crashed into my Manchester hotel to prepare for the night’s gig. From my diary:

‘Roused myself by six and made it to the Arena a bit after seven. I had fallen prey to some pretty epic reflux, probably as a result of eating rubbish all weekend, so I was not in full on poptastic spirits. But I powered through thanks to prochlorperazine and of course the Pet Shop Boys.’

Despite feeling less than my best, once at the arena however my mood was immediately lifted by the enthusiasm of the crowd and the prospect of a great show from the Pet Shop Boys.

‘I had a great view from the front of block J, though I would have liked to have been closer, really. Reports of a static crowd at the previous night’s Leeds show had me a little concerned, but I need not have worried, for this was Manchester, the city that defined the concept of Up For It and Havin’ It Large. As “Inner Sanctum” started up and the two big discs on stage revolved to reveal Neil and Chris, all 20,000 thirty-to-sixty year olds were on their feet and if not dancing then at least nodding along determinedly.’

This show was very similar to the one I would eventually see the following year at the Royal Opera House. Because of that, I must admit that this arena date pales somewhat mightily in comparison when looking back now, to the two incredible nights I had in that majestic London venue. But I still had an amazing time.

‘So the Super tour is basically one huge epic PSB themed rave, and what could be better? There was a heavy focus on the last two dance-happy albums and somehow they managed to pick all my faves for the setlist. “Burn” and “Inside A Dream” were storming electro classics, and “Love Is A Bourgeois Construct” a joyous singalong. There were surprise treats from all eras like “In The Night” and “Se A Vida E” and “Love Etc” and I even quite enjoyed “Home And Dry”!’

As ever, though, it was the group’s era-defining classics of the 80s and 90s that brought the house down.

‘But naturally it was the big hits that brought the crowd together in explosions of nostalgic ecstasy. The closing whammy of “It’s A Sin”, “Left To My Own Devices” and “Go West” had us frothing, but to then encore with “Domino Dancing” and “Always On My Mind”? Quite frankly, that’s just showing off. A closing reprise of “The Pop Kids” and it was all over – for now. For six weeks in fact, ‘til the RAH in April!’

Yes – I didn’t have to wait all they way until 2018 for my next Pet Shop Boys gig, as I had a ticket for their upcoming Teenage Cancer Trust Show at the Royal Albert Hall to look forward to. Which would turn out to be another incredible, but very different, kind of gig.

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