Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys

Of all the pretentious, big-haired New Wave bands of the ' the Pet Shop Boys have held up the best. For three days in June the duo will bring their aren"t-we-droll songs and new album Nightlife to two of the Kanto area"s newest and shiniest performance spaces.

Formed in 1981, the Pet Shop Boys were the brainchild of vocalist Neil Tennant, a journalist for UK pop rag Smash Hits, and former cabaret singer Chris Lowe. Signed to Parlophone Records, the pair"s recipe of dance beats, sexually neutered irony, and despair hidden behind a shiny, smiling facade was very much in evidence on their breakthrough 1985 smash single "West End Girls."

Their debut 1986 album, Please, made it clear that, appearances to the contrary, the PSBs were more than a flash in the pan. The album spawned a series of hits including "Love Comes Quickly" and "Opportunities (Let"s Make Lots of Money)." In 1987, the duo were back on top with a cover of the Elvis Presley hit "Always On My Mind."

A series of albums in the late '80s and '90s affirmed the Pet Shop Boys" place in the pop firmament, including Actually (1987), Behavior (1990), Very (1993) and Bilingual (1996).

With last November"s Nightlife, the PSBs stated their refusal to be consigned to the dustbin of pop history. The album drops plenty of bombs, with, as always, Tennant"s frail voice framed by an orchestral wall of glistening strings, throbbing bass and synthesizer flourishes. The single "New York City Boy" is a camp tribute to '70s disco group the Village People, and reminds us of the importance of gay culture in the development of dance culture.

It will be curious to see what kind of show the Pet Shop Boys put on in their first Japan tour in nine years, as their incorporation of stage dancers, film and other theatrical elements should take full advantage of the huge stages for which they have been scheduled.

Pet Shop Boys play Yokohama Pacifico on June 14 and Tokyo International Forum on June 16 and 17. See listings for details.

In a December lawsuit, the Pet Shop Boys were awarded libel damages from writer Roger Scruton, who in his book, "An Intelligent Person"s guide to Modern Culture," alleged that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe were producer puppets, lumping them together with the Spice Girls.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana