Pet Shop Boys – Take That, Progress Live (Review)

Take That & The Pet Shop Boys, Manchester 12 J...
Image by Andrew_D_Hurley via Flickr

“I’m flattered and very happy they’ve agreed to do it. They’re so talented; I thought they’d be above it and us.” Jason Orange 2011

It takes a certain level of audacity to have the nerve to ask the Pet Shop Boys (PSB) to be your support act.  It takes a certain level of humility, grace and courage to accept. For any music artist to support a headline act such as Take That, takes guts.  You’re playing to an audience who may know little about your music, and you have to make your performances good enough to merit being part of the music event of the year, but not so good to risk outshining the main stars. Since the 80s, PSB have done nothing but outshine their contemporaries, so this was always going to be a challenge.

Although the announcement was greeted by some with curiosity and bewilderment, upon reflection, it is easy to see how this pop marriage of the ultimate 80s duo, could work with the ultimate 90s and 00s pop band in 2011.  You only have to see Robbie Williams’s collaboration with Neil Tennant on “No Regrets” and with PSB on “She’s Madonna” to witness that.  Many of the lyrics penned by Take That both as a 4 and 5 piece, have references from which could be derived from their obvious high respect of the super pop duo.

It must be said, PSB showed the audience why and how they have influenced virtually every act from The Killers to Lady Gaga and Take That themselves.  The 40-minute set consisted of highlights of their 2009 Pandemonium Tour, and included techno coloured video projections serving as the backdrop together with amazing dancers and backing vocalists.

The set list selection was clever, mostly sticking to the classics that the audience may have known, but not necessarily have clicked that PSB were the artists behind them.  By the time Neil Tennant launched into “Go West”, he had the audience in the palm of his hands.  Chris Lowe was his usual unassuming self, playing keyboards with the duo flanked by an array of beautifully choreographed dancers, who skilfully enhanced the on stage theatrics.

For a group with the status of the mighty PSB, to even contemplate accepting this gig displays fortitude few, if any, other music stars of their calibre have, and that alone must be applauded. For the duo to hand over the proceedings to the main act, with the Take That audience singing “West End Girls”, that takes nothing short of genius.

In their official statement PSB stated

“We are delighted to accept Take That’s invitation to be part of their Progress show and tour which is undoubtedly going to be one of the most exciting events of 2011.”

“We look forward to every night being a huge celebration of pop music.”

With not one but two of Britain’s best ever pop acts, it most certainly was a celebration – long may it continue.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Set List

Heart
Love etc.
Go West
Together
Always on my mind
Left to my own devices
Suburbia
Se a vida é
It’s a sin
West End Girls

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