As live music continues to make a comeback, one of the most anticipated tours of 2020 has finally hit US stages two years later as “The Unity Tour” makes its way across North America. , ending this weekend in Vancouver.
Combining electronic and dance music, the Pet Shop Boys and New Order complement each other naturally, with trance DJ and producer Paul Oakenfold opening the show.
“It was really wonderful. And it really makes me think about how lucky I’ve been – we’ve all been – to go out and have fun. Even going to a bar and having a beer means a lot,” Oakenfold joked as he returned to the stage ahead of a recent sold-out performance at the Huntington Bank Pavilion in Chicago. “Being on this tour – being invited by Pet Shop and New Order – has been fantastic. We’ve done Madison Square Garden. This one’s sold out. Hollywood bowl. They’re iconic and wonderful places. So for me to play some the music between the two sets is awesome.
Onstage in Chicago, Oakenfold bridged the gap between Pet Shop Boys and New Order, ensuring continuity of music throughout with a seamless transition between acts, a rare luxury for fans in an amphitheater setting. outside.
“I do two sets. The first set is more melodic, current club music, and the second set is more the tunes people know,” Oakenfold explained. “So I see it two ways: I want to drop some of the classics that the crowd knows and loves – Depeche Mode, Bowie, some of my stuff – and then also some new club music. isn’t a retro tour – we’re still alive and kicking. I’ve released a new album. The Boys have new music. So it’s a bit of both.”
In Chicago, Oakenfold, who released the new album Shine on earlier this year took to the Pet Shop Boys with Everything But The Girl’s “Missing,” the colors of the Ukrainian flag displayed on a massive video screen flanking the stage, the DJ pumping up the energy in the closing set of New Order with cuts from artists like Eurythmics, U2 and The Prodigy.
“Chicago!” shouted vocalist Neil Tennant, heavily disguised keyboardist Chris Lowe removing his mask as the Pet Shop Boys offered “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” on stage in Chicago.
Opening the set with “Suburbia”, Tennant and Lowe performed under oversized lampposts, a screen later rising to reveal a pair of drummers and an additional keyboardist supporting the duo.
“Hello, Chicago! It’s ‘The Unity Tour’ and we’re the Pet Shop Boys! said Tennant. “Tonight we’re going on a trip where West End girls dance with New York boys…” he said. “Where being boring is a sin, the music plays forever and the streets have no name!” he said, the intro keyboard part of U2’s live versions of “Bad” gurgles beneath the duet’s version of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” blending the U2 classic with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli.
In Chicago, the Pet Shop Boys’ performance was driven by costume changes, trappings and dynamite visuals, defined by an indelible collection of catchy songs responsible for worldwide sales of over 50 million.
‘Domino Dancing’ sounded terrific onstage in the birthplace of house music as the band ripped their way into Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Losing My Mind’, soaring synths informing ‘Always on my Mind’ immediately after.
“This next song is for all the old ravers out there! And I think there’s quite a few!” Tennant said, surveying the Chicago crowd as he set in “It’s Alright.” always!” he sang as the performance neared the end, the resplendent “West End Girls” giving way to “Being Boring” as Pet Shop Boys came to a close.
A late-September outdoor staging by the lake in Chicago can be a gamble and temperatures dipped into the 40s when New Order next took the stage, an eastern breeze putting a chill in the air off Lake Michigan.
“We now know why they call it the Windy City…”, exclaims singer and guitarist Bernard Sumner. “It is cold!” he asserted, perhaps expressing more of his innermost thoughts as New Order kicked off with “Regret.”
An opening video tailored for the Chicago crowd, featuring iconic imagery and architecture like nearby Soldier Field and the North Side Uptown Theater alongside luminaries like Hall of Fame outfielder White Sox Minnie Minoso, ran to open the show, a fun extra step the band took to locate the evening.
A Sumner guitar stab ran through original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert’s playing, bass thumping during “Age of Consent,” an early highlight. Gilbert then added additional guitar to “Ceremony”, with New Order launching a guitar triple attack.
“It’s great to be back in Chicago!” Sumner said, setting up “Your Silent Face”. “We’ve been saying this for many years, but it’s true,” he continued, putting down his melodica to blow his nose mid-performance.
An updated beat drove “Bizarre Love Triangle” while an almost disco feel fueled “True Faith” later, New Order heading into an encore that celebrated their roots as Joy Division each night.
“From Manchester to the lake… It’s so Manchester you wouldn’t believe it,” Sumner said in Chicago, noting the band’s English home base. “Can I just say that we really appreciate you waiting so long to come see us?” Two years of dog shit. Thanks a lot.”