Shouting in the Evening

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2013
Original album - Electric
Producer - Stuart Price
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

Neil and Chris wrote this song "on the road" in June and July 2011 while touring with Take That.

This is the shortest track on Electric—the only one less than four minutes in length. A somewhat hard-edged number—the most abstract and experimental track on the album—it's basically an instrumental with scattered "processed" vocal interjections, strongly reminiscent of the techno music played at raves back in late 1980s and early 1990s. Most interestingly, however, Neil has noted that those vocal interjections were initially inspired by Lionel Richie's 1986 hit "Dancing on the Ceiling," especially its line "Oh, what a feeling…." Chris also makes a recurring vocal appearance with the words "That feels so good." Most if not all of the other vocals are apparently by Neil, although like Chris's they're treated in such a way as to make them barely recognizable. ("The vocal manipulation," according to Neil, "was done by Chris, in fact.")

The phrase "shouting in the evening" isn't original with PSB, but had been previously used to describe or define the acting profession, most particularly with regard to performing on stage. There's some disagreement, however, as to who originated the phrase. It has most famously been attributed to actor Michael Gambon, perhaps best known to audiences around the world as Professor Dumbledore in the latter Harry Potter films (a role he took over from Richard Harris, who died after the first two films in the series). Gambon once defined acting as "shouting in the evening," and it was this attribution that served as the Pet Shop Boys' inspiration for the song's title. But the phrase has also been attributed to others. Many credit it to Patrick Troughton, the second actor to portray the Doctor on Doctor Who. When once asked whether he preferred acting on stage or on television, he replied by dismissing the former, saying, "I don't want to do all that shouting in the evening!" On the other hand, playwright David Hare has ascribed it to the son of actor David Tomlinson, who used it in reference to what his father did for a living. It's distinctly possible, in fact, that none of these people originated "shouting in the evening"; for all we know, it may have been around long beforehand in theatrical circles. In short, we may never know who actually coined the phrase.

For all of this, it seems most unlikely that Neil and Chris wrote a song like this about stage-acting. What, then, is it about? The brief, abstract lyrics make it difficult to assign any specific interpretation. Maybe it's just dancing, clubbing, and having a great night out. But one of my site visitors offered a particularly intriguing interpretation: could "shouting in the evening," with those lines about how it "feels so good," be referring to sex? Maybe especially of the more exuberant kind that's sometimes referred to as "bedroom gymnastics"? Hmmm—


Officially released

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