I have been a fan of the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant even before he was a Pet Shop Boy. He used to write for my teen Bible, Star Hits (Smash Hits) magazine. I remember when he left the magazine to become a famous pop star. I was sad, because I figured I’d never hear from him again. Oh, ye of little faith! Of course he and Chris Lowe became extremely famous and fabulous, and are one of the few 80’s bands that stood the test of time.
Fast forward to 2014. Pet Shop Boys are touring America, and are selling VIP meet and greets. I hyperventilated at the thought of actually pressing the flesh with Mr. Tennant himself, who had been my hero since those halcyon Star Hits/Smash Hits days. I just had to snatch up a VIP ticket, even though it was a bit out of my budget. I later found out that photos were not permitted, which was a huge bummer for me. I’d rather have a photo than an autograph any day.
Finally, the day of the show arrived. After standing in line for almost two hours, and meeting some lovely people who were in line with me (Hello, Jessica!), it was finally time to meet Chris and Neil. I was so nervous. I actually felt like I might pass out. Some of my new friends went in with me to offer moral support, or maybe they were worried I’d actually faint. I’m not sure.
Anyway, I turned the corner into the meet and greet room, and saw Neil Tennant himself smiling at me as if he were happy to see me, and extending his hand out to me. (I’m sure he did this for everyone) He was wearing black pants and a black jacket, and he had on some sexy glasses that made him look like a college professor (the one everyone has a crush on).
Huge disclaimer here: yes, I know he is gay, but I had a huge crush on him before I realized the truth of the matter, and sometimes I still can’t forget how that felt. I joked that I was going to tell him, “You’ve been whispering in my ear for 27 years,” but I didn’t. So chalk up some points for me for self-restraint.
I shook hands with Neil and Chris. Chris has never seemed like a real person to me. He seems like a robot – never speaking, never smiling, never showing his eyes. I couldn’t believe it when I saw him smiling, chatting, and wearing a grey hoodie and sweats. He was so laid back and casual! I said to Chris, “It’s nice to hear you speak,” and he replied cheekily, “I’m a real chatterbox!”
Neil was busy signing everything I brought, plus my laminate. I brought my copy of the Best of Smash Hits book for him to sign (he wrote the foreword), and he immediately exclaimed, “Ooooooh, Smash Hits!” upon seeing the book. It was delightful. They both graciously signed all the items I brought (I even had them sign something for a friend), and were lovely and sweet.
Even though I didn’t get a photo with them, it was a great experience, and definitely worth the money.
After that, it was time for the show! Those of us who had VIP got into the venue early, so I had a good spot in the front. If you haven’t seen the Pet Shop Boys live, you really missed out on a sensory overload. It’s a spectacle in every sense of the word. They change costumes, there are dancers who also change costumes, a light show that will dazzle your retinas, and of course, the wonderful songs.
Here’s a taste:
I had a fabulous time at the show, except for a few jerks in the audience. Every show in Austin has a problem with people who show up and then spend the entire time chatting with their friends. I don’t know why these people feel they must be right up front if they’re going to gossip for hours…I did finally turn around and “shush” them but it did no good. Then, a few minutes later, their friends pushed through the crowd to join them. These people had made their own “disco” hats, and were shining a light on them using the flashlight app on their phones. It was ruining the light show and blinding me. Next, they started taking selfies of each other with the hat on. They were moving around, pushing everyone, laughing, chatting and ruining the show. Finally, I’d had enough. I started elbowing them back when they pushed me. Then I grabbed the arm of the girl with the hat and said, “Why don’t you go to the back? You are extremely annoying.” The best part about all this, is that they actually did go away after a minute!
I’m totally going to get punched in the nose at a show someday, but I am glad I didn’t this time. It’s my bad karma from being super annoying at shows over the years. Maybe it will be erased soon…
Once those pests went away, I was back in blissful ecstasy. The show was amazing, and I will never forget that day. I still can’t believe that I actually met them and talked to them! They will always seem so much larger than life to me.