Tuesday, August 9

Pet Shop Boys put a finishing touch to BBK Live with psychedelia, electronics and an overwhelming collection of hits

Neil Tennant has said that he is delighted to be back “in Bilbao and in Spain”. And the audience at BBK Live was delighted with the concert by his band, Pet Shop Boys, which was the finishing touch for three days of almost non-stop music. The British, with a recital of about 90 minutes, have provided a mixture of psychedelia, nostalgia and electronic music that has brought together teenagers who did not stop making ‘stories’ for their Instagram and who were teenagers one, two, three and even four years ago decades, the same ones that Chris Lowe has been handling the keyboards and synthesizers under a cap and behind sunglasses.

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The show started at the last lights of a clear Saturday and after, on the same main stage of the festival, Rigoberta Bandini took advantage of the Eurovision pull of ‘Ay, mama’ to vindicate herself before her announced withdrawal. Under a moon not yet full but very waxing, Pet Shop Boys have started with the percussions of ‘Suburbia’ and have continued with ‘Can you forgive her?’ and ‘Opportunities’. ‘Where the streets have no name’ has been the first of the songs that Tennant has shamelessly given his parish to sing, which has responded with raised arms and decent choruses and decent English. Then, among others, ‘Rent’, ‘Left on my own devices’, ‘Domingo dancing’ or ‘Love comes quickly’ have dropped.

Pet Shop Boys has pampered the scenery with two large side screens, one to follow Tennant’s movements and another for Lowe’s characteristic stillness, who barely took his eyes off the keyboards right at the end, to smile and greet the respectable. Two lampposts have acted as a common thread and Tennant has been changing his wardrobe to exhibit ‘three-quarter’ coats -one of them seemed to be made directly from albal paper’- and hats of different shapes and colors. On the stage there was also a large horizontal screen that went up and down to play colors, shapes and lights and show or cover the three musicians who accompanied the duo, active since 1981. In two moments old video clips have been projected showing some very young artists in the background.

After the enthusiastic reception of ‘Always on my mind’ -‘Tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died. Give me one more chance to keep you satisfied, satisfied’- Pet Shop Boys have allowed cameramen to take pictures of a trio of songs, ‘Dreamland’, ‘Heart’ and ‘It’s alright’. After midnight, Tennant has announced that this July 10 is his birthday. The guy from the pet store turns 68 and has celebrated it with two of his biggest hits, ‘Go West’ and ‘It’s a sin’. Some alleged workers who have been part of the show putting and removing elements from the stage at various times have repositioned the two lampposts in their initial position and the show has concluded more calmly with ‘West end girls’ and ‘Being boring’.

Pet Shop Boys have had two nods to Ukraine, first with a large blue and yellow flag -which has been applauded- before the start of the concert and then changing the lyrics of ‘West end girls’ to mention kyiv and Mariupol, two of the cities hit in the war. Tennant has been animated with Spanish at times -not with Basque- and has managed to dazzle the public. Few groups can boast a concert playlist so long that every single song is a well-known and recognized ‘single’ and hit. Few groups move from one song to another with such fluidity and without slowing down. And few groups can afford to show up and leave out some of their most popular products without the result suffering. Pet Shop Boys is already part of the Olympus of BBK Live, whose stages at the end of the infinite stairs of Mount Kobetamendi are already being dismantled until 2023… if the coronavirus or another contingency does not prevent it.

PS: Saturday night has also featured the strength of Argentina’s Nathy Peluso, with an impressive staging, or the surprise in the smallest corner of the ‘bibikey’, as they called it, by Badbadnotgood, a quartet without a vocalist from Toronto led by a drummer who has delighted a small group of listeners. This band, which could fit into the jazz festivals that proliferate in these parts, has two Grammy Awards.

PD 2: In a statement, the organization explained this morning that 115,000 people have passed through BBK Live on their return after the break due to COVID-19. He assures that the full house has been “closed” and that the 2019 record has been broken. There are already dates for 2023 -from July 6 to 8- and it is understood that it has already become an “intergenerational” and international reference, with visitors from 75 countries.