Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Concrete - Pet Shop Boys

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You might find yourself asking the question "is there any need for a Pet Shop Boys live cd" and you wouldn't be alone. I mean I'm a huge PSB fan and I've got a CD of the Performance tour but is there any real need for an official release? You might find yourself thinking there isn't and you may well be right but that would disguise the fact that whilst a PSB live CD may never be a "must have" this two disc set is actually well worth investing in.

Of course being PSB it could never be a straight Live album; this one sees them backed by the BBC concert orchestra and helped by some special guests (Robbie Williams, Rufus Wainwright, Frances Barber) to bring you songs that stretch right across their varied back catalouge.

The special guests for the most part add a lot to the proceedings. Ok, Frances Barber isn't a singer and that is proved as she sings Friendly Fire (taken from the Closer to Heaven musical), but Robbie Williams is suprisingly effective taking the lead on Jealousy. It's Rufus Wainwright who steals the show in terms of guest spots though, transforming the Fundamental misfire Casanova In Hell into something quite special indeed, not least because he can bring the overwrought passion missing from the original to bear.

But even without the guests there would be much to admire. The version of Rent may only be a re-working of the Liza Minelli version, but it's no less satisfying for that. The Sodom And Gommorah Show leaves us in no doubt as to why it's become such a huge live favourite, whilst old Trevor Horn collaborations It's Alright and Left To My Own Devices sound as fresh as ever.

To round things off there are also vital and exciting re-workings of a couple of classics, West End Girls and It's a Sin and you have an album which confounds the expectations I had coming into it (namely that it would all be a bit pointless). Sure it's hardly likely to convert the non-believers, but anyone whose love of the Pet Shop Boys extends beyond the hits to be found on Pop Art is likely to enjoy this very much indeed.

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