POP THE PET SHOP BOYS Playhouse, Edinburgh, Mon 15 Jun

Pop. Savour the sound of it. It’s a perfectly formed onomatopoeic explosion of a word. It’s also a bloody vague one. Time was when its key exponents were the Pet Shop Boys, an odd couple with a drum machine, an ear for a tune and a strongly literate streak. They collaborated with Derek Jarman, Sir Ian McKellen and the English National Opera, and named a hit single after an Anthony Trollope Novel (‘Can you Forgive Her?’). They’re continuing the tradition: recent single ‘High and Dry’ featured a video by Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tilmans.

Pop’s always been a breeding ground for mediocrity, but in this age of idols it’s difficult to remember the last decent intelligent pop act. In a recent interview with The Face, keyboardist Chris Lowe lamented the culture of blandness. ‘That’s the problem with society in general,’ he said. ‘Everything’s too readily available. There’s no underground anymore. There’s no elite. That’s what the Pet Shop Boys are all about, for God’s sake: elitism. And you can’t find it anymore. Someone brings out a great underground tune, it’s on Radio 1 the next day and it’s ruined! Life has just been ruined by it all!’

Last year’s musical, Closer to Heaven, a clubland tale of bisexual love triangles and

the dangerous nature of fame written by Tennant, Lowe and Jonathan Harvey, might have been seen as an attempt by the duo to distance themselves from the music scene and project themselves into theatre. It received mixed reviews and closed after four months and, while the Pet Shop Boys intend to revisit the same territory in the future, new album Release suggests that they’re not about to give up on the singles chart just


Ironically enough, the album sees Tennant and Lowe (and guest Johnny Marr) discover the thrills of the guitar just as electronic pop music is remerging, albeit in the darker, squelchier form of electroclash. Still, after

ime spent in the studio when I not actually playing can be

tedious. Listening to a cacophonous table football joust whilst simultaneously debating which flavour of Pot Noodle to have and waiting for the next airing of ‘Without Me' by Eminem on cable TV is typical of time spent (when not watching 22 foreigners kicking a ball about. which there was a lot of lately).

One great thing about recording in Cava studios however. is its proximity to West 13th, the new venue/bar managed by the people from the previous 13th Notes. Whilst dodging our studio duties last week we were lucky enough to witness former member of the band Trout William Rogan's new band, Ghost Valley 1. Anyone who had the privilege of seeing Trout would be familiar with his take on the frontman role which lies

56 THE LIST 18 Jul 2002

Combating mediocrity with elitism

the irksome warblings of “New York City Boy’, the more contemplative tones of ‘Home and Dry’ and ‘Love is a Catastrophe’ come as a blessed relief. The live set-up will be a simple affair, with two guitarists, a percussionist and the duo centre-stage. The band once known (perhaps unfairly) as irony incarnate look like they’re ready to get personal. Which doesn’t mean you should expect too much breastbeating. ‘People have

this idea that the life is what’s important and you

The start of the Festival frenzy, World Cup fatigue, one-time trouts and new Notes all Indicate that Stuart really needs a holiday.

somewhere between Alan Vega and Spike Milligan and his new combo certainly didn't disappoint (Didn't disappoint? Snide patter alert! Give me a job at the Sunday Mail nowl). His two-piece band combined glitch electronica and surrealism to great effect inducing in bewilderment and delight in those assembled. One song told of a world inhabited by truckers whilst our hero William rode a tricycle round the venue. He was known as ‘the Triker'. | suggest you witness them live as I realise how little sense that makes written down.

By the time this stumbles to print I'll have left the country on holiday and subsequently missed the start of the festival season. The two festivals I'm missing. Glastonbury and T in the Park both have surprising line-ups. Glastonbury because it's line-up is uncharacteristically woeful and T in

express it in your art,’ Tennant told the Observer earlier this year. ‘Well, you know, a lot of our life does go into our art, but songwriting, like any creative act, is contrivance as well.’ Amen to that. (James Smart)

the Park's because it's unusually good. How Glastonbury can justify charging almost a hundred pounds (not that much goes to charity by the way) when the headliners are Coldplay. Stereophonics and Rod Stewart is beyond me. There is some

interesting stuff on the bill but most of '

it's on when decent folk would still be asleep. Very disappointing. T in the Park while still having its fair share of spurious acts early on, has the mighty Primal Scream and Sonic Youth. two bands who by rights should have ceased to either be relevant or good eons ago.

What I've heard of Primal Scream's new record Evil Heat is amazing. a fucking dark psychedelic homage to Suicide and Neu. They've been tremendous with Kevin Shields and Mani on board and always make a festival when they play. If only they’d kept ‘Bomb the Pentagon‘ . . . Sonic Youth meanwhile have dragged themselves out of their Wire Magazine-endorsed indulgences and are back to doing what they do best. making exciting rock'n'roll music. They‘ll either be totally amazing or utter mince.

Anyways, I shan't be there. but you lot have fun and be nice.

Surface noise

All the preening, screening and gigs on the greening in the wonderful world of musrc

GIG ON THE GREEN HAS announced almost all of its line up now and finds a mix of rocking perennials mixed with a sprinkling of new faces. Cornershop, Haven, Raging Speedhorn and Elbow are among the names confirmed along side the Strokes, Pulp, Prodigy and the Offspring for Glasgow Green on Saturday 24 and Sunday 26 August. Look out next issue when we will have our exclusive sixteen-page pullout guide to all the acts at Gig on the Green.

THE EVER WONDERFUL BETH Orton has announced a date at Glasgow Royal Concert hall on 13 October while Death in Vegas play the OMU. Glasgow on 12 October. Also Coldplay appear at the SECC.Glasgow. on 4 October and Paul weller plays Breahead Arena. Glasgow on 16 October.

Beth Orton

WIN TICKETS! WE HAVE TWO pairs of tickets for both Iggy Pop and for My Wtriol’s shows this fortnight. Iggy plays the Barrowland on 17 July, while moody young guitar growlers My Vitriol play the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh on 10 July. All you have to do is email us at promotions© or write to: Ticket Giveaway, The List, 14 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TE and state which show you’d like a couple of tickets for. Closing date for My Vitriol is Monday 8 July but you have until Monday 15 July for Iggy entries. Usual rules apply.

IF THE FREEBIE ABOVE WASN‘T enough, those in need of a new pair of sneakers may take into account that those buying a pair of Reebok Classics over the summer c0uld also get their hands on a free CD with their purchase from J-D Sports. It contains tracks from Slam, Rae and Christian and Fingathing.