Pet Shop Boys, an unusual pop duo

  • 2013-06-26
  • By Frederik Erens & TBT staff

COOL WHITE: The two pop wonders continue to put out hits.

TALLINN - Estonia’s largest outdoor festival, which marks 20 years this year, will deliver more than 100 artists to the Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn. The midsummer fun will embrace seven stages, each featuring a different style of music as well as countless bars, tents and eateries. The event will host a huge Tivoli amusement park.
But on Friday [July 5] the main stage will belong to the British electro-pop megastar Pet Shop Boys.

In 1985 the British pop duo Pet Shop Boys stormed the hit lists with their single ‘West End Girls.’ Some critics dismissed them as a ‘one hit wonder,’ but they proved to be wrong: a seemingly never ending stream of hits were released, like ‘Surburbia,’ ‘Domino Dancing,’ ‘Go West,’ ‘Being Boring’ and ‘It’s a Sin’ (Mikhail Gorbachev once confessed that his daughter used to blast the latter song in the corridors of the Kremlin palace). But unlike most famous 1980s pop acts, they have never quit and have continued to produce synth-pop music without interruption. Personal friendship and their love for songwriting have kept the Pet Shop Boys together for more than 30 years now.

They are unlikely pop stars: Neil Tennant (born 1955), the singer and intellectual spokesman of the group, studied history in his early years. Many references to history and literature can be traced in his lyrics. And there is Chris Lowe (1959), the enigmatic keyboardist who habitually prefers to be in the background, nevertheless considered by many as the musical mastermind behind the Pet Shop Boys. Originally an architecture student, Lowe has a good sense for modern art and design. Their unusual background might have been decisive for shaping this unique pop act. As Tennant often states in interviews: they like to bring elements into pop culture that normally do not belong to it: elements of theater, visual arts, literature and classical music. Ten years ago they produced music for Sergei Eisenstein’s famous film ‘Battleship Potemkin,’ and last year they released a ballet score. At the upcoming live concert ‘Electric,’ one can find all the characteristics of a theatrical Pet Shop Boys performance: state-of-the-art video clips, modern fashion, lasers, dancers dressed as Minotaurs.

In the past 30 years the Pet Shop Boys have been writing in a wide range of musical styles, though their own familiar sound is always recognizable. This can be illustrated by their latest studio albums. Last year’s ‘Elysium’ consisted mostly of pop-ballads written in a reflective mood, while on the upcoming album ‘Electric,’ uplifting dance tracks dominate. Their recently released lead single ‘Axis’ has every potential to become a big hit on the dance floor.

After six years of absence they are now including Tallinn in their ‘Electric’ tour. This might be attributed to their warm relationship with Estonia. Spending a short holiday on Muhu Island back in 2003, Tennant got inspiration for the lyrics of their song ‘Between two Islands.’ In 2011 they briefly returned to Tallinn in order to shoot a music video for the single ‘Together,’ directed by their Estonian acquaintance Peeter Rebane. It features the style of an imaginary dance scene at locations in Tallinn and Maardu. The live concert at the Tallinn Song Festival grounds will be held at the Ollesummer-event on July 5 and will be a mix of their well known hits and their latest songs.

As customary by now, the coming Ollesummer festival will feature grand performances from Estonian artists and promises exciting surprises among foreign artists as well; the relevant negotiations are already underway. The organizers promise that some extremely successful projects will hit the stage again – even bigger and better than before. Naturally the festival will again have its multitude of large and small stages with their varied programs, and also beer tents, an amusement park, Bungee jumping and many other attractions.

For the first time, an Estonian Beer Tent (Eesti Olle Telk), catering for more than a thousand guests, will be erected at the festival as the country’s largest outdoor beer restaurant. The restaurant that boasts a substantial Estonian music program will feature table service, beer will be poured from pitchers and food will be served on proper tableware. The restaurant’s menu will offer a versatile selection – from healthy salads to mini cakes and different desserts.

Ollesummer 2013 July 3 – 6.
Ticket price 9 – 59 euros.
More information and tickets available at: