Friday, 25 August 2017

Pet Shop Boys and Goldfrapp @ Brussels Summer Festival

For the whole of last winter, I was on guard for announcements of summer appearances by the Pet Shop Boys. I knew the Super tour was going to be underway and I definitely wanted to catch them somewhere in Europe during the summer. The reason was simple: I had met my girlfriend at their Athens gig in 2013 during their previous ("Electric") tour. But the fact is, I didn't actually meet her at the gig. We were both there, but we didn't know each other. However, on the following day I posted on a Pet Shop Boys fan page and quoted one of their lyrics. She contacted me because of that very post, me met, and the rest is, as they say, history. The only problem was that until this summer, we had never actually seen the Pet Shop Boys together! As luck had it, one of the first summer appearances that they announced was at Brussels Summer Festival and I immediately booked tickets.
The situation might have been a lot more different, if they had announced their appearance in Lucca first. Seeing as most of the gigs I attend are in Italy we might have gone there. But we loved the idea of going to a concert in a different country for a change. Plus, the festival was taking place right there in the capital, so no further travelling apart from our plane journeys would be required. As an added extra, a few days after the Pet Shop Boys appearance was announced, Goldfrapp, who I had also wanted to see live for several years,  were also added to the bill, on the very same day.
What was also great about this festival were the ticket prices. 30 Euros only for a one-day pass giving access to all stages of the festival on any given day. Moreover, if you double that amount and pay 60 Euros instead of 30, you don't get a 2-day pass, but a 10-day pass. Access to all stages for all days of the festival! And the various stages are located at squares and other locations in the city centre.
All we had to do one the day, was to exchange the passes we had bought and printed off the internet with wristbands that would give us immediate access to the stages. Now, one has to be careful with that because entrance is "subject to availability". This means that if a lot of people have one-day passes for a particular day, and they all go to a certain stage, they will not be allowed to enter if that stage is full.
Nevertheless, we arrived just in time for Goldfrapp and we realized we could get very near the front. And then, we realized we could get further to the front and so we did! The band entered the stage right on time and Alison looked fabulous dressed all in red. Wow! I mean, WOW! (I think I'd better continue with the review of the gig because my girlfriend is also reading this...:LOL:). She launched immediately into "Anymore" the lead single of her latest album "Silver Eye" (one of the best of the year so far) and continued with songs old and new.

"Systemagic", "Ride On A White Horse" and "Strict Machine" were particularly enjoyable although she didn't play "Happiness" no matter how loudly someone in the audience kept asking for it!

In fact, "Strict Machine" was announced as "our last song for tonight. I bet you can't wait". I hope she didn't mean that we were bored and we couldn't wait for them to finish because we were waiting for the Pet Shop Boys. 

At least, as far as we're concerned, we went there early because we wanted to see them as well! ("We're going to see Goldfrapp! WOW!" was my reaction back in March when they were added to the bill). All in all, they played just a few minutes short of an hour. Having looked at the day's schedule, I thought they were going to play for much longer, but then the time needed to prepare the stage for the Pet Shop Boys must be taken into account.
Although we were at the front of the stage, it was easy for me to walk towards the back during the break to get a beer (which came with a souvenir plastic glass!) and then walk my way back to the front and find our place.

Now, the festival website strongly advised that drink tickets should be bought in advance from the internet, however, the queues, both for the tickets and the drinks themselves were negligible. (Totally unlike Terra Vibe! :LOL:)
At 22:30 the stage was set for the Pet Shop Boys. I had not looked at the internet for setlists or videos from the Super tour. And I did that on purpose. I wanted  to be surprised on the night.
But their set started just I imagined it would. While on the Electric tour the mostly instrumental "Axis" served as an opener, here on the Super tour the again mostly instrumental "Inner Sanctum" served the same purpose as Neil and Chris appeared on stage from behind  a couple of circular props.

"Inner Sanctum" segued into "Opportunities" and that was followed by "The Pop Kids" segued with "In The Night" and "Burn" our first big surprise of the night. I had noticed the song on the "Super" album, but I had ever imagined that it would work so well live.

And then came "Love Is A Bourgeois Construct". This was my favourite song from the "Electric" album, but they did not play it on the Electric tour. They are playing it however on the Super tour and of course they played it on the night with one of their accompanying musicians on electric violin. It's like they owed it to us.

They did not, once again, forget "Love Etc.", but I did not expect its follow up "The Dictator Decides" to be one of the highlights of the evening. This slow song from "Super" is more important for its lyrics rather than its melody, but it worked so well live (and with another costume change from Neil).
"West End Girls" was sung in its extended version form (with the extra verse) and the surprises continued with "Home And Dry" a song I had never expected to see live. Then they proved to us that they don't forget their immediately previous album like a lot of bands who usually play only tracks from their latest album combined with their "early stuff". So they played "Vocal" again on this tour. But the biggest surprise came after that with one of my favourite songs from the "Fundamental" album: "The Sodom And Gomorrah Show".
I was starting to wonder whether they wanted to promote their recent "Further Listening" reissues, but when I looked at the setlist again, I realized they played nothing from "Nightlife", nothing from "Elysium" (understandable, probably) and, here comes the big surprise, nothing from "Behaviour"!

After "It's A Sin", the version of "Left To My Own Devices" that followed was expected and already familiar from the 12 inch of "Undertow". 
For the end of their set they announced "an old song in a new version" and although Neil started singing "Heart" he immediately moved into "Go West"

They returned for an encore of course, treating us to "Domino Dancing", the obligatory "Always On My Mind" (the following day was, after all the 40th anniversary of Elvis leaving us) and they wrapped up the proceedings with an extra dose of "The Pop Kids"
And that was it! The balloons were deflated, the square was slowly emptied and we started walking back to our hotel. You see, that's the beauty of a festival like this which takes place in a city centre: No need to worry about public transport or taxis, your accommodation is probably within walking distance. All we had to do now was go to sleep and dream of our next Pet Shop Boys gig...


01. Anymore
02. Train
03. Ocean
04. You Never Know
05. Slide In
06. Everything Is Never Enough
07. Become The One
08. Systemagic
09. Number 1
10. Ride A White Horse
11. Strict Machine

01. Inner Sanctum
02. Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)
03. The Pop Kids
04. In The Night
05. Burn
06. Love Is A Bourgeois Construct
07. Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is)
08. Love Etc.
09. The Dictator Decides
10. Inside A Dream
11. West End Girls
12. Home And Dry
13. Vocal
14. The Sodom And Gomorrah Show
15. It's A Sin
16. Left To My Own Devices
17. Heart / Go West
18. Domino Dancing
19. Always On My Mind
20. The Pop Kids (Reprise)

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