Taking my daughter to her first rock concert was an experience neither of us will soon forget, at least not after the performance by the Pet Shop Boys and their entourage, an incredible cast of weird characters from who knows where.
If you were looking for your average, stand-up-and-sing-concert, this one wasn't for you. On the other hand, if you were looking for obvious meaning, buy a ticket to "New Kids On The Block." Still, the enthusiastic crowd of nearly 2,000 (the concert was a sell-out and consisted mostly of young adults in their early 20s) from all indications got its money's worth.Matt Johnson, 23, of Salt Lake City, who sat next to me when he wasn't standing, said, "It was entertaining, and that's what it's all about."
The Pet Shop Boys - lead singer Neil Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe - said they had been reluctant to tour in the past because they didn't want to put on a standard rock concert.
In this regard they certainly succeeded. This was more of a rock musical complete with elaborate sets, effects, smoke, lights, costume changes, dancers, singers and more dancers. Tennant and Lowe left the stage after nearly every number to change costumes and kept the audience guessing about what they would look like next.
But the concert was fast-paced, breaking with an intermission after nine sets at 8:45 p.m.
The second half included eight more numbers plus the encore of "You Were Always On My Mind," which brought the house down. I even tapped my foot and bobbed my head to that one.
Perhaps to paint as best a picture as possible, Katelyn and I will try to provide some of our impressions, at least from our vastly different perspectives. So, here goes.
"Katelyn, what did you think of the concert?"
Katelyn: "I liked it. It was kind of strange, but I guess that's what they wanted to portray. It says in a `Rolling Stone' article that they wanted to do something different, and they did."
"Explain what you mean by `different.' "
Katelyn: "It was theatrical. There were costumes and dancing and makeup and weird characters."
For example, as the first number started, two characters were on stage. One was wrapped in red material like a mummy wearing a baseball catcher's mask. The other was dressed like an old man and appeared to clap his hands wildly, only his hands never touched so there was no audible sound. To their right was a brick wall that exploded at some point, we missed that one.
Nine dancers came on stage dressed like students from an English private school complete with bermuda shorts, jackets and caps. Next, a figure elaborately dressed like some sort of wizard held out a large book. The English private school dancers kept holding up chalkboards with letters. Finally, they arranged themselves to spell "Jesus Saves" and a cross in the background blinked on and off.
"All right, Katelyn, how about the number that reminded me of a psychiatric ward with the four beds on stage, the dancers dressed like doctors, nurses and patients, and the large clock suspended above the set that was spinning backward. What did it all mean?"
Katelyn: "I don't know."
"Or what about when they did their hit, `Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money),' and there were nine or 10 dancers dressed in pastel blue suits and hats complete with padding to make them look overweight? And each dancer wore a pig mask with an over-large snout and a curly, pig tail peaking out from under his suit jacket?"
Katelyn: "I don't know either."
I don't know if it was ironic or not, but their next number was "How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously," from their new album, "Behavior." Now that was something. And the pig dancers remained on stage.
Toward the end of the concert, Tennant and Lowe dressed in red satin and sequined outfits and sang their 1986 No. 1 hit, "West End Girls," complete with dancers in white satin tuxedos and over-large cowboy hats. The women dancers wore weird wigs, and one even wore bunny ears.
"What did you think of that one, Katelyn?"
Katelyn: "It was one of the better numbers, I guess."
"Well, are you glad you went?"
Katelyn: "I am. I thought it was a lot of fun and something different. It was an experience and I'd like to go again."
For me, it was an experience too, although I think I'd prefer some good old rock 'n' roll complete with stand-up singers and a down-and-dirty backup band.
But the Pet Shop Boys did themselves proud in Salt Lake City Monday night. Tennant was obviously pleased at the response as he thanked the crowd.
The group now heads to Minneapolis for the seventh appearance on a 14-city swing ending in Montreal, Can. on April 15.
Tennant and Lowe and their menagerie of talented performers got their dog tags stamped Monday night, endeared themselves to their growing list of fans and moved farther from the back of the pet shop to the front windows where everyone who passes by can get a better look.