| October 22nd, 1993|
A London rehearsal studio, where the Pet Shop Boys are rehearsing for their part of The Equality Show at tile London Palladium, It’s just after seven o’clock when some of the London Gay Men’s Choir, who will back the Pet Shop Boys on the finale, “Go West”, trickle in, “I won’t try to remember everyone’s names,” Neil tells them.At the actual performance – in two days tine – there will be about 40 of then, but only half cal) make it here tonight. Chris isn’t here, either, though he has been here rehearsing the other songs the Pet Shop Boys plan to Perform -“Can You Forgive Her?”, “To Speak Is A Sin” and “One in A Million” – earlier in the day. Nor is guitarist J.J. Belle, as every Evening bar Sundays, he is currently playing guitar in the new production of the musical flair. But Neil is here, as are singer Sylvia Masoniames, programmer Pete Gleadall and arranger Richard Niles,
While the choir from a circle make spooky warm-up noises and body undulations, Neil talks about the tribute the Pet Shop Boys recorded for Simon Bates’ final show on Radio One earlier in the day: a raga version of “So Long, Farewell” from Tire Sound Of Music with Chris saying in the middle: “We’ll really miss you, Smiles.”
It is time for the run-through. The first time it sounds distinctly weak and ropey.
“Can I just say,” says Neil, “that I know
you’ve rehearsed this carefully, but we’ve dumped the ‘hmmnm’s at the beginning?” He also wants them to sit)g with more conviction, “It needs tons of attitude. The attitude is…camp! Big’. It can’t be too big.” There is some laughter at this, “Art imitating life,” says Neil,
They try again, on their own.
“Without meaning to be rude,” Richard Niles tells them, “it’s sounding wimpish.” They look suitably chastened. “Now we’ll try with the tape,” he suggests.
“Nothing is on rape,” Neil points out. As with all Pet Shop Boys live performances, the samples and sequences are being triggered afresh from a bank of computers.
“The band,” says Richard Niles. “Sorry.”
They try it some more, “Yes, it’s getting funky,” Richard Niles says approving, though he has a new simplification between two of the choruses. “Let’s forget those ‘aaah’s, Those ‘aaah’s am history. Those ‘aaah’s are Elvis, Those ‘aaah’s are, indeed, Louis ,”
Neil departs to the recording studio where the Beatmasters are finishing off”! Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing”. “It’s gone from being a very simple pop record to being totally over-the-top. They’ve made it like they imagine a Pet Shop Boys record sounds.”
Chris is waiting there, “Are the choir no good?” he asks, expectantly, before he has been told anything. The Beatmasters final mix is played and meets with their approval. “Yes,” nodes Neil, “another bass-descending-chords–with-string-runs-over-it. We’ve had four singles in a row with string rims.”
“When we were rehearsing this afternoon,”
says Chris, “I released that ‘To Speak Is A Sin’ had the same descending chords, in the same key, as ‘One In A Million’.” He laughs. ‘You can’t heat those classical chords – lie difficult hit is writing a new song over the top.”
Sunday, October 24th. The London Palladium. 2.OOpm.
The Pet Shop Boys are in their dressing room, disappointed to discover that it isn’t Jason Donovan’s. (For the rest of the week the Palladium is the borne of Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat ) Neil tries to telephone Boy George.’ they want Boy George to introduce them with Janet Street-Porter, “No doubt,” says Chris, “he will mention the review you gave him I years ago…”
Neil tries on his wig. They will premiere their new hairpieces tonight.
“Very Trevor arid Simon,” says Chris.
“It’s got to look beatnik,” frets Neil. “Am I really going to go on-stage wearing dark glasses?” He asks for opinions. “OK!” he resolves. “It’s a definite possible..” He also decides to remove the wig at the end of the preference. “I’m going to whip it off in a pathetic Bowie-Sequa gesture.”
“I look a bit Kurt Cobain,” Chris insists. “A bit Nirvana-ish. That’s my perception. Other people will think I look like Carol Chaining.”
Sir Ian MacKelen strides in, wearing a promotional Last Acijo,; Hero jacket and spraying kisses all around.
They run through their songs. In the middle of “One In A Million” they have added, rather thrillingly, a portion of Culture Beat’s “Mr Vain”. The choir march on for “Go West” but it still doesn’t sound very good. They’re too quiet. ‘Their microphones are adjusted, and eventually they improve a little. Now everyone
worries about their entrance and exit.
“Do you want us to walk in any particular way,” one choir member asks Neil.
Neil seems a little stumped by this. “What options do you have?”
The show begins at 8pm. There is a wry,
funny introduction from Stephen Fry, some synchronized leg-kicking from the Tiller Girls, old-fashioned paper-tearing from Terri Carol, a brief appearance from Joanna Lumley and Jane Horrocks of Absolutely Fabulous (afterwards Neil and Chris are thrilled that Joanna Lumley asked to meet them), comedian Lea Dc Lana, a celebrity sticky moments from Julian Clary (featuring varies EastEnders, Claire Rayner and Victor Meidrew), the cast of Hair, drag queen Lily Savage, and an award presentation to Richard Norris, the mat) partly responsible for repealing anti-gay laws in the Republic Of Ireland. ‘Then Boy George and Janet Street-Porter appear.
“How many people in this audience waited until they were 212” he says, and there is no response. “I was IS.”
“I was 14,” says Janet.
“I’ve worked out this introduction,” Boy George says. “Give us an ‘0’. Give is another ‘0’. Give us another ‘o’. What have you got?”
There is a rather confused “Ooo!” and the curtain opens to reveal the Pet Shop Boys. As the Pet Shop Boys are in wigs, and no one seems entirely sure that this actually is the Pet Shop Boys, the confusion continuities for a while. As Neil begins “Can You Forgive Her?” the lyrics are translated into sign language by a woman at the side of the stage who has been profaning. This service all night. After “To Speak Is A Sin” Neil introduces everyone, including “the blond bombshell Chris Lowe”. Chris spreads his arms.
“Go West” works magnificently after all, the whole audience on their feet. At the end Neil whips his wig off and walks away, whilst Chris stays on-stage, playing along to the song’s ravey final section. When it finishes, he also saunters off. The applause is quite deafening.
Copyright Areagraphy Ltd 1993: All Articles have been
Taken From Literally 1993 Issue 11