Pet Shop Boys not just making up the numbers at the Sunderland Stadium of Light

Gracing the big stage - Pet Shop Boys at the Stadium of Light supporting Take That
Gracing the big stage - Pet Shop Boys at the Stadium of Light supporting Take That
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WITH Take That wowing the crowds at the Stadium of Light you’d be forgiven for forgetting there’s another big chart topper in town.

Eyebrows were raised when the Pet Shop Boys were announced as the band’s support act on their Progress Live tour – surely they are a headline act?

Last night, the electro duo proved the eyebrow-raisers right.

More than 25 years after forming, the multimillion-record selling pairing of Neil Tennant on vocals and Chris Lowe on keyboards are still going strong.

Testament to their talent, the songs that first hit the charts in the 80s still sound as fresh and contemporary today as they did then.

They certainly struck a chord with the Take That audience – mostly made up of women in their 30s and 40s - who danced to the disco beats of Heart and Always on My Mind.

It was almost like performing on home turf for showman Neil, who lives in County Durham, as his unique vocals drew people away from the food and drinks courtyards outside - an unusual achievement for the support act.

But then the Pet Shop Boys are not your typical pop act.

You only had to look at the spectacular staging and costumes to see that.

A little bit weird, a little bit wacky, the boys’ 40 minutes on stage were a visual treat.

As futuristic graphics showed on the main screen, dancers dressed in everything from sequin disco dresses to Andy Warhol-esque blocks of colour to bring to life some of the band’s biggest hits.

Syntho pop classics, Suburbia, Left to My Own Devices, It’s a Sin and Se a vida é all drew huge cheers of appreciation from the 55,000 capacity crowd.

But it was marching anthem Go West which proved the biggest crowd pleaser.

North Shields-born Neil made a minor slip up though: “as a Geordie it’s pretty special to be in Sunderland,” he shouted to the crowd,.

The statement garnered a few boos at the home of the Black Cats, but the duo soon won them back over with 1984 debut West End Girls.

You realise just how many hits a band’s had when you start counting up the tracks they’ve missed though - no Domino Dancing, no What Have I Done to Deserve This?

I was left wanting more of their unique brand of theatrical pop, but for that I’ll have to wait until they’re topping the bill.