Do you personally know the Pet Shop Boys or have any official affiliation with them?
I have no official affiliation with them. My website is merely a hobby and "academic interest" on my part. As such, I never dreamt that I would ever actually meet them in person. But, as it turned out, I did get to meet them after roughly 13 years of being a fan. Naturally, my partner George and I attended one of the shows on their Autumn 2006 North American Fundamental tour. And thanks to my participation in their documentary A Life in Pop and the very great kindness of a certain contact, we were able to obtain backstage passes.
After the show (and a marvelous show it was at that!), George and I went backstage and, along with about a dozen other guests, met Neil and Chris. George took a photo of me with Neil (unfortunately, it's a bit blurry) but I didn't get a picture taken with Chris. Regardless, this was one of the great thrills of my life!
Neil and Chris are both extremely charming and affable in person, even after the rigors of a performance. Of the two, Neil seems the more outgoing. Chris comes across as somewhat more shy and reticent, although I'm sure he opens up a lot more among people he knows well.
I didn't get to talk to them very muchour time was very limited and we had to share them, so to speak, with the others presentbut, as we chatted and drank champagne together from paper cups, I did learn the following things:
- It's absolutely true what they say about the effectiveness of
Chris's "disguise." He had been in the room for several minutes before
I recognized him standing less than twenty feet awaywithout his cap
and dark glasses! Chris further attested to this when he said that, while he and
Neil had been out "touristing" earlier that day, several people had
recognized Neil along the way, whereas nobody had recognized him.
- On their North American tour they were traveling via private
jet as opposed to commercial airlines. Chris noted that this seriously cut into
their profits, but that it made traveling much more tolerable, particularly during
the "war on terror."
- Neil confirmed
that Little Britain (David Walliams and Matt Lucas) had worked on a novelty single
based on Lucas's character Daffyd ("the only gay in the village"), part
of which parodies the PSB rendition of "Go West."
He also indicated that he and Chris had been involved somehow, but he wasn't entirely
clear on that point. He seemed surprised, however, when I mentioned the rumor
that it would be released as a "holiday single." On the contrary, he
said that "they're not yet sure what they're going to do with it,"
- No firm decision had been made at that time whether
"Integral" would be released
as a fourth single from Fundamental. Neil
was hoping, at the very least, that it might become a "promo dance single"
in the U.S., but even that was still uncertain. I shared with Neil my observation
that, when they played "Integral" during the concert, the audience at
first seemed largely unfamiliar with it, but by halfway through they were responding
to it as enthusiastically as they did to the old favorites. Neil agreed, saying,
"It's always that way."
We were also fortunate enough to meet and talk with them again during the U.S. leg of their 2009 Pandemonium Tour, both at the pre-show "Meet 'n' Greet" and backstage after the concert. Having neglected to do so at our previous meeting three years before, I presented them with copies of my 1994 book Rock on the Wild Side. Chris accepted his copy and immediately started thumbing through it, but Neil handed his back, saying with a smile, "I have a confession to make—I already own a copy." (A delightful revelation!) Neil was particularly generous with his time at the after-show get-together, talking to us at length about the concert, certain songs, their local visit, other stops on the U.S. tour, restaurants where they've had particularly good meals, and the like. I told him, among other things, that I thought this show was the best that I'd attended yet and that "All Over the World" was an especially good live number that they should consider making a concert staple. Regrettably, we didn't get to speak nearly as much with Chris because he spent most of his time visiting with another group of people. (Hey, we can't expect to keep them all to ourselves! )
Thank you so much, Neil and Chris, for meeting with us! I'll always greatly treasure these wonderful experiences!
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