Saturday, 27 October 2012

Pet Shop Boys - Live at the Tube 1986

As far as TV show appearances go, this is probably their most interesting TV performance that I've seen! In short, The Tube was a very popular British music show in the 80's, that concentrated on more up and coming bands or ones in their infancy (hence why all the Pet Shop Boys appearances are from 1986, they also performed Paninaro on the show). The show was innovative though because it featured live performances as opposed to the mimed ones on the slightly more mainstream Top Of The Pops. The Tonight Is Forever clip is now legendary amongst fans but the West End Girls clip was one I actually hadn't seen until very recently. To cut a long story short, I couldn't find any information about the performance; what gave it away in the end was realizing that Chris was wearing the same attire as he did for Tonight Is Forever at The Tube. Whilst reading the Tonight is Forever entry in the Please Further Listening booklet they did indeed confirm they also did West End Girls on that particular broadcast.

For those reasons, I'll assume that West End Girls at The Tube is somewhat forgotten, which is a shame because this performance of West End Girls is very unique! This is the only performance of West End Girls that features both the "Who do you think you are, Joe Stalin?" verse in the hit version (it was cut from the original version). As a bonus, it also features what some fans refer to as the hidden verse. The hidden verse is the one that appears in longer mixes of the track, such as the 10" mix, the dance mix found on Disco etc. It's the verse that starts with "You can find a place that no-one knows..." and culminates with the line "and no-one knows your name." Its one of the few times they performed that hidden verse live (I can only recall the other time being on the Performance tour in 1991). It's definitely the only time that they have performed both these segments of lyrics together though. I used to think that the Joe Stalin line was a bit corny if I'm honest but I think it was the arrangement of the original version because here they sound really good!

The second performance also is interesting but for slightly more humorous reasons. Tonight is Forever was an album track from Please that both Neil and Chris highly rated. So much so in fact that they were sure it would be the follow up single to West End Girls (the re-released version). That is, until this performance happened. There was a two hour delay between performing the two tracks, and in this time Neil drank four pints of beer due to nerves. It's important to remember that because they didn't play live concerts in their early years, their initial performances on The Tube and Old Grey Whistle Test would have been some of their first forays into live performance so I'm sure their nerves were at fever pitch. Due to the drinking though, Neil's vocals sounded a bit weaker (by his own admission the worst he's ever sounded). I think the first verse a bit flat but he sounds decent from the first chorus onwards. It is one of their weaker performances admittedly but I still think they are a bit hard on themselves over it. They were so embarrassed by it they decided not to release it as a single. I'd say this same embarrassment is why we've never heard this song at any of their concerts other than as a brief introduction to the Discovery tour.

I can understand why Tonight is Forever wasn't on Ultimate. I mean it's interesting to watch if you are a fan but as an actual live performance its hardly their best. West End Girls though on the other hand is a rare little gem that I think definitely needs more attention, not having that on Ultimate was a mixed opportunity I think!

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