Pet Shop Boys bring The Sage to life with two hours of Super pop

Pet Shop Boys were in superb form at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.
Pet Shop Boys were in superb form at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

One of the few criticisms levelled at The Sage is the sometimes staid atmosphere it generates - but then it's not every night its stage is graced by Pet Shop Boys.

On the first of two sold-out nights, Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe and their three-piece backing band brought Hall One to life with their era-defining electro-pop bangers, bringing the audience to its feet and sparking some of the biggest singalongs this world-class venue has witnessed.

A fully-fledged masterclass, the show delivered a perfect meld of old and new, not to mention a stunning visual backdrop and a typically flamboyant set of costume changes.

There were no support acts, just two hours of pure Pet Shop Boys magic. And my, how time flies when you're having fun.

While most of tonight's crowd will have been drawn by the aura of their '80s and '90s hits, this was a performance which leaned just as heavily on the group's most recent albums, 2013's Electric and last year's Super.

To anyone who arrived unfamiliar with them, these new cuts will not only have been a revelation, but perhaps even equal to anything in their storied catalogue.

Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Recent single Inner Sanctum, for instance, was as fine an opener as you could possibly ask for, and saw the core duo arrive onstage amid a blinding display of lasers, technicolour projections and giant illuminated spheres.

Anyone who came in late could have been forgiven for thinking they'd began with a multi-platinum No 1 smash - and during the early stages in particular this developed into a recurrent theme.

Indeed, if you'd asked a trio of newcomers which of The Pop Kids, Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money) and Burn was a chartbuster back in 1985, chances are they'd come up with a three-way split - not bad considering the former peaked at a lowly 128 and the latter is a mere album track.

That isn't to say that the old favourites aren't worth their special status, and as they became more frequent an already-jubilant atmosphere quickly reached fever pitch.

Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

The iconic strut of West End Girls, aired mid-show, had even the most reserved concertgoers out of their seats, while the dazzling one-two of It's A Sin and Left To My Own Devices brought the main set to a spectacular, throbbing conclusion.

There was still room to fit in their famous renditions of Go West and Always On My Mind, and by the time they'd exited with a climatic reprisal of The Pop Kids even seasoned followers were drowning themselves in superlatives.

A huge production - not to mention the name on the ticket - ensured it was far from a cheap night out, yet this was a show which left everyone present in a state of glee, be they pure nostalgists or those like me who're just as eager to sing the praises of their recent endeavours (and let's not forget the venue's security staff either!).

There will, of course, be a small hardcore attending both nights, and they can only be giddy at the prospect of doing it all over again.

Pet Shop Boys brought the audience to their feet at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Pet Shop Boys brought the audience to their feet at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Pet Shop Boys performing at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Pet Shop Boys performing at The Sage Gateshead. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Pet Shops Boys mixed classic with newer material - and will do it all again tonight. Pic: Carl Chambers.

Pet Shops Boys mixed classic with newer material - and will do it all again tonight. Pic: Carl Chambers.