Pet Shop Boys and New Order Delight the Bowl: Right from the off, we should point out that the idea of having a name DJ on a big ticket tour is a phenomenal idea, and everyone should do it.
Paul Oakenfold is a big fucking deal, and to have him on the bill with the Pet Shop Boys and New Order, t-shirts for sale at the Hollywood Bowl merch stand and everything, is genius because it means that there is no dead air. Before the first band and then between the bands, Oakenfold got the crowd buzzing with a couple of killer mini sets that took in everything from Technotronic to the Prodigy, Killers to Pink Floyd.
On this tour, the two bands are alternating the order. We attended the first of two shows at the Bowl, with Pet Shop Boys on first, and New Order closing the show. The following night, is switched. That said, a glance at the setlist on the tour tells us that the lengths of their respective sets doesn’t change. It simply means that one 0r the other gets an early night.
The Pet Shop Boys were phenomenal on Friday night. Neil Tennant sported a beaming smile throughout (Chris Lowe didn’t, but that’s kinda his thing). The lights and on-screen visuals were spectacular; the two men initially appeared on stage wearing what looked like medical whites and robotic bunny ears, and it only got crazier from there.
The setlist too was near-perfect. “Suburbia” from 1986’s Please debut kicked things off, then were straight into “Can You Forgive Her?” from Very. We get “Opportunities,” “Left to My Own Devices” and “Domino Dancing,” and all are perfect. If there’s one complaint, it’s that the PSBs play a bunch of covers but not their best one (the Village People’s “Go West”). We could probably have done without “Where the Streets Have No Name.” But it’s a minor niggle.
The songs from the Actually masterpiece are the highlights — “Rent,” “Heart” and the untouchable “It’s a Sin.” That album felt like Tennant’s journal and the songs are as effective today as they were back in the ’80s.
They encore with “West End Girls” and “Being Boring,” and then they’re gone and Oakenfold is back at the decks. Before long though, it’s time for New Order and the sound of “Times Change” is being blasted. Like the PSBs, New Order have a ton of great tunes to pull from. Unlike the PSBs, they didn’t seem to be having a great time. Bernard Sumner kept saying they were having a great time and, granted, they’ve always had that Mancunian cynicism by the shovel-full. But this writer has seen New Order a bunch of times, and they just seem as into it since the 2011 reunion.
Of course, they’re missing Peter Hook but Tom Chapman does a fine job. And hey, the strength of the material (and some awesome lasers) makes up for everything. New Order played everything you would want them to and more besides at the Bowl on Friday.
“Regret” into “Age of Consent” was a superb opening one-two punch. The likes of “Ceremony” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” were awesome, and the closing trio of “True Faith,” “Blue Monday” and “Temptation” was simply incredible.
They were back for two encores — a cover of “California Dreaming'” (with big cheers for the “if I was in LA” line), and then a dip into their past for Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”
By the end, we were all left a little stunned by the sheer volume of amazing songs that we’d been treated too. Double bills are rarely this good.
Pet Shop Boys and New Order Delight the Bowl
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