|GLASTONBURY Friday 23rd june 2000|
| The Pet Shop Boys have Flown back to England from Japan two days before their Saturday night performance at the Glastonbury festival, and have gone straight from the airport to Babbington House, the luxury hotel where they will stay throughout the festival On Friday evening, they are still recovering. It 5 funny having breakfast in southem Japan, thinking that you’re going to have dinner in I Will shire says Neil.|
“I’ve never felt so jet lagged in my entire life.” But, he adds, this was their most enjoyable Japanese tour.
We did no promotion,” says Chris. “Also, the Japanese seem to have loosened up a bit. An equal opportunities bill was passed, so they seem to have more rights. And they seem to have more of a sense of humour.” He is silent for a moment, then adds: One of the nice things they do, as the plane is moving away from the gate, the ground staff wave goodbye to the plane.”
Chris bought one of those tiny hand-held scooters in the duty free shop on the way to Japan and scooter around his Japanese hotel room. He looks through some snapshots his sister has had developed. Some of them are from their recent Washington appearance. “I did that show without a hat on!” he exclaims. “That can’t be right
Neil asks to see them. Chris hesitates. “I’ve got clean hands,” Neil says, and the photos are handed over. Neil studies one of a train window. That very Michael Stripe,” he says.
I know,” Chris apologises. Some people might call these boring.”
Neil flicks through them. ‘Oh,” he says. There we are Engel’s, me and Marx.” He talks
Some more about the flight from Japan.
“I loved flying over Siberia, because there’s nothing there apart from some very straight roads. It was sunny – there was some cloud over Germany – and then as soon as you got to England it was cloud. My mother was telling me on the phone that the Russians stop rain – they disperse the clouds. And they don’t know why The English don’t do it for Wimbledon.” They talk about their police escort in
Lithuania. “With sirens,” Neil says, “pushing Every other car out of the way for two hundred kilometres. Lorries in the gutter, more or less. It was sort of amazing and ridiculous.” He laughs. “The audiences were great. In Vilnius it was torrential rain and it stopped about five minutes in, so you had 10,000 people with umbrellas.”
Over dinner they discuss a preview in the New’ Musical Express which, while otherwise nice, refers to them as “pushing 50”. Chris is outraged. “I’m not pushing fifty! Fair enough in Neil’s case, but me. I’m ruinous…”
They sit there for a moment, nobody speaking. This time tomorrow they will be going on stage.
“I feel strangely excited,” says Chris.
“Don’t worry,” says Neil. “It’ll pass.”
They worry about how light it still is outside. “We’re now into ‘Left To My Own Devices’,” says Neil, imagining tomorrow, “and it’s incredibly light.” The whole table then has a huge argument about whether summer officially begins on June21, which is Neil’s firm belief, or whether in reality, as the term is commonly used; it begins earlier (the more sensible stance favoured by Lirero¼’). The next argument is over the derivation of the word “news”. “That’s where it comes from – North East West South,” Chris insists. He gets little support for this. Their booking agent Pete Nash asks whether it might also have something to do with the word “new”. The food arrives.
Chris asks Murray, their press officer, if he can make sure their appearance here is noticed. “Can we hijack this event to up our profile a bit?” he teases. “Because I’m not even aware we’re doing it.” Murray wonders whether he’d like to do more interviews. “I don’t want to do an interview,” Chris corrects, ‘just a general we-stole-the-show kind of thing. I’m not talking about interviews, I’m talking about spin.”
Dinner is finished quickly so that those who want to, including Neil and Chris, can drive to Glastonbury to see the Chemical Brothers perform tonight. “This is so exciting!” Chris exclaims, jumping into the van. “This is so exciting.”
“I’m quite excited,” Neil agrees. “We’re going to Glasto and I’m pushing 50, according to the NME…”
They turn on Radio One.
“You can’t beat a timpani in a dance record,” says Chris. The song builds. “Yes! Let’s go!” says Chris. The DJ says, “Radio One -where we always pay the extra 30p and go large”. Everyone roars. “Oh, this reminds me of raving in the old days,” says Chris. A few miles on, he insists that we stop so that he can relieve himself in a hedgerow. Then we hit a traffic jam:
People still trying to get into the festival.
“Where are the Lithuanian police when we need them?” asks Neil.
We edge forward, but impossibly slowly. The first suggestion that we should turn back is mooted.
“We can’t give up so soon,” says Neil. “We’re the plucky Brits.”
About fifteen minutes later, realising there is no chance of seeing the Chemical Brothers even if we wait, we turn around.
“I’m very disappointed,” says Neil. “I’m a hardcore raven”
“The music’s better here,” says Chris, meaning in the van with the radio on. “I’d rather listen to this than the flipping Chemical Brothers.”
“That’s what Glastonbury is – a flipping traffic queue,” Neil complains. “I was looking forward to that.”
Saturday, June 24. Around lunchtime, Neil
lounges in the library, relaxing. Then suddenly jumps up and looks out of the window. “That’s the problem with grass – people cutting it,” he says. “That’s the peace shattered in this room. He is asked to think of a quote about Catatonia’s Cerys Matthews, who will be singing “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” They talk about singing and she mentions that she has wanted to ask one of Another Level to teach her
How to sing run’s. it could never find all those notes ” Neil says. “It almost sounds middle-eastern.”
‘What’s the opposite of a trill?” Cerys asks.
“I don’t know,” says Neil.
They discuss how she should be announced. ~Not to make a big fuss,” Cerys suggests. “To kind of get the vibe it’s just happened backstage.”
“The rumour is, apparently,” says Neil, “that we’ve got Barry White appearing with us.”
“Oh no, they’ll be disappointed,” she frets. She is holding her asthma inhaler and her DAT of “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” “It’s quite hard to tell which are the voices,” she says, meaning that she can’t distinguish between Neil and Dusty.
Neil nods. “Yeah. I sing higher. That’s why we continued working with her, because our voices blended so well. When we did a record with Lisa, we nearly did a duet but it sounded so weird.”
She leaves and Chris appears. Neil says he’s going for a swim.
“Neil likes swimming so much he’d got his own swimming pool,” says Chris. “He liked it so much he bought the pool.”
Susan, Neil’s sister, appears, holding her Glastonbury ticket. Chris and Neil speak almost simultaneously.
“It’s the ticket,” says Chris.
“It’s just the ticket,” says Neil.
Chris says he wants some lunch. Neil caves easily. “Let’s eat,” he says. “To hell with exercise, let’s eat again.”
A little after three o’clock in the afternoon Cerys comes to Neil’s room for the first and only rehearsal of her duet. She studies the lyrics she’s been having trouble with. “It’s just ‘how I am and ‘how I’m…’,” she says. “It changes. Why does it?”
“It’s just the sense,” says Neil. “It doesn’t matter hugely. One’s a question and the other’s a statement.”
“Just trying to hurt my brain.” says Cerys.
They sit on the sofa together, running through the song. After the first complete run-through – in which Cerys already sounds fairly\
Terrific – Neil says, massive applause, thank you and goodnight”.
She picks up a jar on the coffee table. “Is that caviar?” she asks.
“Marmalade, I think,” Neil replies.
“You should have said yes,” Cerys suggests.
Neil nods. “I never travel anywhere without.
They run through the song a capillary.
‘We didn’t do the ‘we don’t need to fall apart…”‘ Cerys says.
‘You’re right,” Neil concedes. “I forgot that bit.”
He suggests she sings the “we can make a deal” line higher She tries it. “It’s better, isn’t it?” she agrees.
‘it sounds more you,” he says.
He shows her his photos from Japan.
“It’s an amazing place for little trinkets,” she says. ‘Telephones.” She holds up a photo he has taken of a bottle of water.
“My Nick Rhodes moment, he says.
‘I ate jellyfish when I was there,” she says. “More gristly than phlegmy.”
‘Shall we do it one more time,” he suggests, ‘just to finally get it?”
“What’s the guy who does the front of house called?” she asks. (She is talking about the man who controls the sound level and mix from the mixing desk.)
“Snake,” says Neil.
They’re always Snake, or Carrot,” she splutters. “You never get a Jeremy or Toby, do you?”
They stand up and sing through the song again. It sounds wonderful.
The van pulls up, driven by James, the tour manager (Chris has already gone down to the site hours ago to wander around and soak up the atmosphere.)
“Everybody got everything they need?” James asks.
“I’m a bit behind on my mortgage,” says Anthony Glen, Cary’s boyfriend.
Driving through the crowd to the backstage area, someone knocks on the car window and says hello to Cerys in Wash.
“One of my pet hates is people who say
Hello to me in Welsh,” she says. “Because I only speak it to my family and close friends.”
In the dressing room Neil and Chris admit to high levels of apprehension. Cerys pops in and says to Chris, “I’m going to pinch your hum when I come onstage.” Mary MeCanney – a photographer who is one of Paul MeCanney’s daughters – knocks on the door, holding a baby. “This looks a good nappy-changing room to mc,” she says.
“We don’t mind the smell,” says Neil, who is geeing changed.
“You’re probably wearing the only suit in the whole of Glastonbury,” Chris points out, amused.
“I certainly hope so,” says Neil, firmly.
“It’s a lot more nerve-wracking than Cream fields,” says Chris.
“It’s a lot more,” Neil agrees.
“Maybe I should wear my cap?” Chris suggests.
“No,” says Neil. “The wig looks great.”
“You don’t think it looks like I’m taking the piss?”
“Chris, people want to see a wig.”
They pose for a photograph outside for Q magazine, and then get back to the business of being nervous.
“Well,” says Chris, “Neil is literally going to do line-dancing in front of a Glastonbury crowd.”
And it begins. To begin with the crowd is a little thin, and the mood uncertain, but as the sun set’s and more people appear from the other fields, everything builds triumphantly. They start with “I Don’t Know What You Want…”, “Suburbia”, “Can You Forgive her?”, “Leif To My Own Devices”, “Sc A Vida ft,’ (“This is a song for the summer which we’re almost having ) and “Rent” (the original version rather than the stripped-down version they’ve tended to perform in recent years). Neil performs “Drunk” without Chris, Chris performs “Paninaro” without Neil, then they play “Young Offender” and “New York City Boy”.
Before “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” Neil says “tonight we’re going to do it with a very special friend of ours”. The crowd go quite impressively bonkers at the sight of Cerys, and it works well, though she does start making up new words when she begins forgetting them. After that, it’s the first British performance of “Positive Role Model”, then “Always On My Mind” and “It’s A Sin”.
Backstage, before encores, they discuss whether they should perform “Being Boring”.
“We don’t want to do ‘Being Boring’, do we?” Chris persuades Neil. “Leave them on a high.”
Neil agrees. Instead, they do “West End Girls”. Then Neil says: “When we came here tonight we were Glastonbury virgins, so we want to thank you for being kind to us. This song is called ‘Go West’.” Which, quite triumphantly, it is.
“Did you enjoy Glastonbury?” Cerys inquires as they arrive backstage.
“I enjoyed it very much,” says Neil. “It took a while to get going.”
“Well,” sighs Chris, “thank God it’s oven”
“I enjoyed the last three songs,” Neil says.
“Pity we couldn’t have just done three songs,” says Chris.
“NQ” says Neil, sensibly. “You’ve got to do that – you’ve got to take them on a journey.”
They walk over to the BBC’s compound, to be interviewed live on TV. Jools Holland compliments Neil on his bow tie, saying it is the one moment of style so fan Neil stays to do a second interview – with one of Adam and Joe, Jamie Theakst on standing in for the missing member of the duo – and then tells someone: “It looks like a city, on the night before a battle.” Billy Bragg comes over and asks Neil to sign an autograph for a friend. Billy Bragg points to the sky. “You can just about make out The Plough up there.”
Back at the hotel, the party goes on for hours. And as the newspapers appear over the next two days, and then as word spreads around London the next week, it becomes clear that the Pet Shop Boys’ first Glastonbury performance is being talked over as one of the festival’s triumphant highlights, and has indeed – as Chris demanded – become a general we-stole-the-show kind of thing after all.
Copyright Areagraphy Ltd 2000: All Articles have been
Taken From Literally 2000 Issue 23