Pet Shop Boys Savoy Theatre, London

Try walking into a record company to sell them the idea of two average-looking blokes on stage wearing shapeless Communist-style clothes, with the baseball- hatted one standing motionless behind an ancient keyboard and the balding one singing in a monotone, and you'll discover at first hand how efficient their security staff are.

The Pet Shop Boys have somehow avoided forceful ejection from pop heaven for 12 years now. Until 21 June the pop ironists are nestled in the Savoy Theatre, London, playing a series of concerts entitled "Somewhere". They are the first band to play a residency at a West End theatre, but it's hardly surprising because they have always been more at home with Coward and Wilde than Hendrix and Clapton and their songs have always sounded like they belong in an unwritten musical.

Ironically (what else could it be?) the theatrical setting sees them at their least theatrical. The atmosphere is far more intimate than previous shows; the absence of huge choreographed antics and massive costume changes probably makes this the nearest thing the Pet Shop Boys will get to an unplugged concert.

Initially they play lots of B-sides, as if a serious setting requires serious work from the audience. Then, just as everyone's gearing themselves up for a dance as they play "Go West", they tip straight into the interval. The interval? We wanted to dance. This theatre thing must have gone to the Boys head.

After the interval normal service is resumed. They play "It's a Sin" mixed up in a disco cocktail with "I Will Survive". Neil Tennant tells us it's all right to dance. So we jive in our seats. And we notice Chris Lowe has slipped a bit of drum 'n' bass into the mid section. Albeit quietly, Sylvia Mason James belts out the "I will survive" and Neil's monotone duets with her powerful wail. A mistake he probably won't make again.

Their forthcoming single, "Somewhere", a cover of the West Side Story song, is all disco beats, orchestral strings and epic arrangements which manage to sound even bigger than the epic disco of "Go West".

Despite all this faceless anti-pop star treatment and bright arrangements, Neil is equally capable of singing from his heart: for every meaningless "Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat" there's the tragedy and Wildean wit of "Whatever fatal points they scored, I have never been ignored".

This tenderness reaches its peak during the encore, when Neil appears with an unwieldy acoustic guitar. He gently strums his way through a tender version of "Rent". It works so perfectly, you wonder why they haven't done it before.

It's the contradictions: disposable beats and intimate clever lyrics that make the Pet Shop Boys appealing. Their self-conscious anti-rock stance is an antidote to whoever happens to be mistreating an electric guitar elsewhere in the charts. And thankfully, Chris standing behind the same Roland synthesizer pretending to produce all these sounds live is still the funniest running gag in showbiz.

Booking: 0171-836 8888

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum