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Director's cut — May 2007

May 1, 2007 by Tara Brabazon

Well, I always hoped it would happen. May 2007 was the month. There is certain popular culture that not only informs or frames our lives, but actually is our life. If we are lucky, then these popular cultural revelations not only provide transitory enlightenment for the duration of a song, a year or a relationship, but last a lifetime.

My popular cultural lifelong companion has always been the Pet Shop Boys. I fell in love with Neil Tennant's coat in 'West End Girls.' Ten years later, I bought its copy and still wear it through the streets of Brighton. Chris Lowe taught me through my twenties-no matter how unconvincingly-that casual wear may indeed be an option.

Through their duels with Margaret Thatcher and their duets with Dusty Springfield, journalists loved their coldness, their irony, and their intelligence. For me, it was always their honesty-the frigid, frightening truth-of their music that loaned me courage to live a bigger life, and hopefully a better one. Most importantly they aged in public without living the lie that popular culture teaches us: we can be young forever and never die. They have loved, lost and lived long enough to know that the moments of micro happiness will increasingly be flooded by disappointment, confusion and death.

In the final week of May, I had a chance to see the Pet Shop Boys at the Brighton Centre. I queued to get in and-like that fifteen year old girl I once was-scrambled to the front row in front of the stage. There were strangely interesting people there. Young fans who had flow from the United States to be there. A beautiful Amazonian woman, with short and devoted boyfriend in tow, who unfolded an enormous sign to the stage: "Neil you're a sex god."

Indeed he still is. But for two performers who move so little on stage, there was an extraordinary charisma weeping from them. Tennant promised "a night of electronic entertainment." The audience received this, but also a masterful journey through twenty years of musical and social history. Their back catalogue is now one of the best in dance culture, and their fans are beyond loyal. Any view of their website confirms this devotion through the good times and the bad, even the experimentations with rock. Yet the happiness of the crowd, and the belief in more than the next meal or the next handbag, was palpable.

Neil closed the show by introducing the musicians, singers and dancers. He finished with "we're still the Pet Shop Boys." For those of us in the audience and have shared the last twenty years with them, we still need them to be.