A video is posted on YouTube in which a speech, a response to some specific examples of contemporary Irish homophobia, that was recently given by an Irish drag queen, Panti Bliss (real name Rory O’Neill), is set to music by the Pet Shop Boys on a new track, “Oppressive (the best gay possible”.
On April 12 and 19 the Pet Shop Boys make their first, and second, appearance at the Coachella festival in California – the first evening performing despite a sandstorm.
On April 18, a limited edition twelve-inch single containing two new versions of “Fluorescent”, re-recorded with additional lyrics, is released for Record Store Day. The original version was the final song written for Electric: “about a model like Kate Moss, a very glamorous person”.
On July 23 the world premiere of the Pet Shop Boys’ A man from the future, their piece about Alan Turing, written for orchestra, choir, electronics and a narrator, takes place at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. The narration is by the actress Juliet Stevenson, the orchestration is by Sven Helbig, and performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and the 18-piece choir the BBC Singers, conducted by Dominic Wheeler. Neil joins the choir onstage and Chris plays “electronics”. The Pet Shop Boys’ interest in Turing was first triggered when Chris saw a Channel 4 docu-drama about him. A man from the future tells the story of Turing’s life and work and is based on the Andrew Hodges 1981 book, Alan Turing: The Enigma. (Hodges has collaborated with the Pet Shop Boys on the work, and, as chance would have it, is a Pet Shop Boys fan whose 2008 book One To Nine: The Inner Life Of Numbers includes multiples references to Pet Shop Boys songs and lyrics). Originally it ended with Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s apology to Turing, who was hounded because of his homosexuality and killed himself, but after they finished the piece, the Queen formally pardoned Turing so they incorporated that too. Before A man from the future the evening begins with the first ever live performance of “Overture to Performance”, the orchestral interpolation and interweaving of various Pet Shop Boys songs by Richard Niles, the recorded version of which began the show on the Pet Shop Boys’ 1991 Performance tour. It is followed by Four songs in A minor, four Pet Shop Boys songs – “Love is a catastrophe”, “Later tonight”, “Vocal” and “Rent” – arranged by the film composer Angelo Badalamenti and sung by Chrissie Hynde. The last of these, the only pre-existing arrangement (it was done for Liza Minnelli’s Results) is performed as a duet with Neil. The entire concert is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
On August 25 the Pet Shop Boys appear as themselves on the long-running BBC Radio series The Archers (it has been broadcast for over sixty years and has over 17,000 episodes); they save the day by stepping in to headline the inaugural Ambridge music festival, Loxfest. On the show, one of the characters, Linda Snell, describes what to expect: “The taller one’s Neil Tennant. He’s the singer. He’s very charming and talkative. Chris Lowe is the one with the dark glasses. He’s a bit quiet – a man of mystery”. Inevitably, her expectations are confounded.
On This Day
A U.S.-led international coalition launches Operation Desert Storm against Iraq, which had invaded Kuwait several months before. These events will inspire the PSB song 'DJ Culture.'
Neil and Chris begin work on a new song, 'I'm with Stupid.'
Neil is interviewed this evening on BBC2's Newsnight concerning the recent Tim Burton film of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. (Neil has clearly become one of the British mass media's 'go-to guys' for articulate commentary on popular culture, particularly regarding music.)
Chris and Neil take part in a 'meet and greet' for the cast of their ballet The Most Incredible Thing at Sadler's Wells in London.
The Boys film an interview for EMI talking about their upcoming b-sides compilation Format.