Title - 'Concrete' (Astralwerks)
Artist - Pet Shop Boys
Concrete was the seventeenth album by the British band Pet Shop Boys. Funnily enough, it was actually due to be called Concert, but they announced that the album was indeed going to be called Concrete instead - which was the title that they originally wanted for the album!
In truth, the biggest surprise about this live concert, recorded on May 8th, 2006 at The Mermaid Theatre is that it took this long to pair the Pet Shop Boys with the BBC Concert Orchestra! The idea of a PSB show with a full orchestra has seemed so logical since way back in the Introspective days.
Due to the presence of the orchestra, the set list was composed to consist of songs originally recorded with an orchestra. Consequently, aside from an extensive selection of songs from Fundamental (which was their upcoming new album at the time), various non-studio album tracks were chosen
And yet still chock full of slightly over-the-top orchestral arrangements, vocal highlights that prove Tennant still has the chops, and a full on musical feast to behold, 'Concrete - In Concert At The Mermaid Theatre For Radio 2 With The BBC Concert Orchestra' is truly beautiful to listen to.
Available in the US for the first time, with a beautiful, somewhat at times mythical-sounding opening, a near 9 minute 'Left To My Own Devices' is the first song of the night. Featuring the noticeable arrival on stage of the boys, due to the crowds subtle applause, once done Tennant thanks the crowd for their appreciation and then explains more about the song, and its producer Richard Niles. He then further explains that a year on they made an album with Liza Minnelli and that from that session came a reworked version of 'Rent,' which comes next.
The brilliantly-titled, and sweetly-sung 'You Only Tell Me You Love Me When We're Drunk' is next, Tennant informs the crowd he's getting a bit sweaty, before he intro's a song from their (new) album, 'The Sodom And Gomorrah Show.' After a lavish (female) spoken-word intro, the song quickly becomes one of the highlights of the live performance.
"That's the first time we've performed that in front of anyone, so thank you," Tennant admits. He then intro's the first special guest of three tonight, Rufas Wainwright who helps sing another track from the (new) album, 'Casanova In Hell.' Telling the story of how the score to the silent film Battleship Potemkin came to be, they then play one of their favorite moments from it, the near 8 minute long; and totally captivating, 'After All.'
Explaining that they also did a musical called Closer To Heaven which featured the character, Billie Trix played by Frances Barber. And so, with Barber there on stage with them now, her song 'Friendly Fire' is explored next. 'Integral' closes the first disc down.
The second disc begins with another new song, the incredibly sweet, heartbreaking 'Numb,' before we run into the synth pop bounce of 'It's Alright.' "That's an old rave classic," Tennant jokes, as the crowd laughs, "well, it is," he adds. Another (new) song from the (new) album comes next in the ethereal 'Luna Park, with the backing singers getting intro'd next. He then mentions the fact they recorded half an album with the late Dusty Springfield, including a song for the Scandal soundstrack; which then 'Nothing Has Been Proved' is the same song sung thereafter.
'Jealousy' was the first single that the guys ever wrote together, but it took 10 years before it saw the light of day - and who would have thought that the one, the only Robbie Williams would be singing it live on stage! But, that's what he does. Intro'd by a huge fanfare, he settles in to give us a wonderful rendition of the PSB song. Then comes an anxiety dream song, 'Dreaming Of The Queen,' before Tennant thanks his musical director for the night, Trevor (Buggles) Horn, along with others in the pit and on stage with them - including themselves!
Thanking the BBC Concert Orchestra, they then launch into a rip-roaring, pulsating version of 'It's A Sin.' Having mentioned that it was the last song of the night, they don't even leave the stage, but continue on with 'Indefinite Leave To Remember,' another song from their (new) album, Fundamental. Indeed, the last song of the night is a flashback to 20 years before with the still lots-of-fun to listen to, 'West End Girls.'