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History

February 2017

On February 15, the Pet Shop Boys receive the Godlike Genius Award at the NME Awards in London, after which they play a half-hour set. Presenting the award, Johnny Marr explains that “they’ve brought romance, glamour, style, high art to the wonderful thing that is pop music”. In their acceptance speech, Neil says “little did I know when I started reading the NME as a child in the mid-Sixties that one day we would stand here as an electric duo getting such a magnificent award…I’d like to…accept this on behalf of electronic music, dance music and shiny pop”. Chris, wearing a spherical metallic helmet covering his whole head, says nothing. 

In February “Let’s Get Lost”. a song from the recent Pretenders album Alone, is released in a new duet version featuring vocals from Neil. This followed the Pet Shop Boys seeing the Pretenders perform in Austin, Texas a few months earlier; after the show, Neil had mentioned how much he liked the song.

March 2017

On March 5, Wolfgang Tillmans twice presents a live event at Tate Modern as part of his Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017 exhibition. Entitled The 30 tracks that make ‘It’s a sin’ by the Pet Shop Boys, it consists of a two-hour 34-minute 39-second version of “It’s a sin”, in which the song is repeated 30 times, each time with an extra part from the multi-track added to the mix, starting with just the “thunder effects” track and building up track by track until the bass drum completed the mix. As the music plays, on a screen each track is shown playing with a text explanation of what is being heard. (Pete Gleadall compiled the mix.) The 30 tracks are: Thunder effects, High synth chords, String pad/chords, PPG synthesizer chords, High strings, Choir, Orchestral stabs, NASA effects plus priest effects, Four-note melody, Main chorus brass riff/chords, Verse brass, Main lead melody, Main lead melody double, Vocoder, Vocoder harmony, Latin end vocals, Double-tracked vocal, Lead vocal, Main brass part, Secondary bass part, Violin sequence, Jupiter 8 synthesizer sequence, Crash cymbal, Claps, Cow bell, Shaker, Hi-hat, Tambourine, Snare drum, bass drum. 

April 2017

On April 2, the Pet Shop Boys play a one-off concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall on behalf of the Teenage Cancer Trust. Accompanied by Johnny Marr and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, they primarily performed versions of songs they’d originally recorded with orchestras, augmented by others that had been arranged in this way for the 2006 Concrete concert. 

On April 21, “Undertow” is released as a single.  Its title was inspired by a chance comment about an experience in a nightclub by Joel Gibb, singer of the Hidden Cameras.  “It’s about someone getting into a relationship they know is going to be bad for them and they just can’t help it,” says Neil.

Undertow CD

July 2017

On July 28, the long-awaited deluxe reissues of the seventh, eighth and ninth Pet Shop Boys albums are released. Nightlife is accompanied by two additional discs, Further Listening 1996–2000; Release is accompanied by a two additional discs, Further Listening 2001–2004; Fundamental is accompanied by a single additional disc, Further Listening 2005–2007. The extra discs for each album included all of the relevant other material recorded by the Pet Shop Boys in the same period, much of it previously unreleased. The accompanying booklets contain expansive accounts of each song’s genesis and history.

October 2017

On October 20, the long-awaited deluxe reissues of the tenth and eleventh Pet Shop Boys albums are released. Yes is accompanied by two additional discs, Further Listening 2008–2010 and Elysium is accompanied by a single additional disc, Further Listening 2011–2012. The extra discs for each album included all of the relevant other material recorded by the Pet Shop Boys in the same period, much of it previously unreleased. The accompanying booklets contain expansive accounts of each song’s genesis and history.

On this day

2000

An article in Billboard reports that the Pet Shop Boys are working on several new tracks for a ‘best of’ collection, scheduled for release in the fall. They will later postpone plans for this album, putting it off until 2003.

2007

Back in the U.K. following a couple of shows on the continent, the Boys perform at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

2011

PSB and Take That perform this evening in Hamburg, Germany.

2013

Neil is one of more than a hundred internationally known musicians who have signed an open letter posted today by Amnesty International calling for the release from prison of the members of the band Pussy Riot, who had been found guilty and jailed a year earlier for an act of protest in a Russian cathedral.

2016

This evening: the third ‘Inner Sanctum’ show at the Royal Opera House.

2017

The Pet Shop Boys perform at the Tall Ships Races Music Festival in Turku, Finland.

2019

The first rehearsal for Musik.