(Alert - possible spoilers; if you are interested only in concert, proceed to point III).
Almost 200 professional and amateurish photos from the recent PSB concert in Prague (as well as from earlier shows) available at: http://psb-atdeadofnight.net/obrazky/pictures.php
Video samples from the concert are available here.
My Friday 08/11/2006
After various preparations during the day (I had day off) I left - dressed in a t-shirt with "I'm With Stupid" text, an arrow and "Pet Shop Boys" text on the sleeve - our village after 17:00 direction Prague, Love Planet festival, PSB performance. The trip almost ended right behind the corner though, as I kind of out with my thoughts and I forgot to give precedence on the crossroad, where there goes about one car in an hour, but it came right. The remaining part of my journey was without any problems, only the dark sky on the west was scaring me a bit.
After 18:30 I arrived close to the festival area and parked the car. The first thing to do there was to meet staff working for Czech Television (CT) to make an interview with me about PSB (see http://www.petshopboys-forum.com/viewtopic.php?t=12765). Later they also talked briefly with PSB and shoot a part of their performance, all this to be used for a reportage about PSB, to be broadcast on CT in September.
It took us a while to find a suitable place where to shoot the interview (Ministry were really loud) and then it started. I got a mic into hand, the team prepared and I was already asked the first questions (I had no idea in advance what exactly will they ask). If I recall correctly, there were four questions - what I like about PSB, what namely about their songs, previous concerts in Prague and fans in the Czech Republic.
So I blahblah-ed something, it went down quite well in my opinion, only I was asked to reply with completely whole sentence (not only "I like...", but "About PSB I like..."), and I was not watching the interviewer that much, too, rather roved with eyes here and there. Anyway, hopefully it will be of use (I also gave them photos of some news cuttings etc., to illustrate the interview).
After I entered the festival area (nobody cared about what I have in my 30l bag), I bought two t-shirts and moved to the stage no. 1, where the PSB concert was scheduled for 21:30. I went to see the meeting point of PSB fans and met Tanja and other fans from Russia, who were already waiting in the first row in front of the stage, even if there was one other band (J. A. R.) to play before PSB.
Then I met some other Czech fans around; there was five of us on "our" meeting point (but in the crowd, there were many other fans I know). Paul (always talking how he won't stay beside me when I have that t-shirt, elegant Fantastic Voyage, Flyer (whose mother also attended the show), me and as the last one, Andynka arrived - and if we were not in hurry to take a good position, we could almost organize Miss PSB fan competition.
So we went into the crowd. Luckily many people left after J. A. R. concert, so it was not that difficult to reach the front row, especially when there were our allies. So I ended up in the first row next to Tanja and other Russian fans - I stood opposite to Chris' keyboard, a bit to the center of the stage - Andynka and FantasticVoyage were almost behind me. There was also one talkative and let's say strange girl-fan, who was providing us with various (rather less) interesting PSB-related stories.
I learned from Tanja that PSB should be accommodated in hotel Expo nearby (Tanja's mother saw them there in the lift), so we agreed we will run there immediately after the concert ends and will try to obtain autographs or a photo with PSB.
Atmosphere deepened, crowd grew and after 21:30 it started. First a motive from Psycho original movie soundtrack as an introduction, then God Willing and then finally a "normal" song, Psychological. In the beginning, it seemed Chris has a problem with the keyboard or with sound, as he discussed something wit programmer Pete Gleadall. But if something was not in good order, it obviously got into it soon.
The show was excellent. In the middle of the stage, there was a construction in form of some cube covered with a screen. This cube served for various purposes. It was possible to go through it, screen projections on it, open and divide it and so on. During the crossing between Minimal and Shopping, blinking "Minimal" changed into blinking "Shopping" there, during Where The Streets... or Dreaming Of The Queen, the audience could see shoots of Neil in the former case and from princess Diana funeral in the latter.
During Rent, Neil sat inside the cube, hidden behind the screen. During Always On My Mind, huge cartoon heads of Neil and Chris "arrived" on the stage. From behind, there get up funnily dressed dancers (chequered jacket, once with flowers on their heads, next time with guitar dummy...).
Sound in the first row was not perfect, the crowd during breaks was often louder, but to see PSB closely worth it. Chris as usual in his almost static role (but he touched the keyboard, I swear!), it was possible to see on Neil that he is enjoying the concert, that it's not just some unpleasant duty.
Among the most interesting moments of the concert belonged song Dreaming Of The Queen. Before I thought whether it won't be somewhat strange or kitchy, when there are shoots from funeral screened during it, but it was not. On the contrary, this projection amplified the lyrics "And there were no more lovers left alive / No one had survived" in a special way. Another interesting moment was visually minimalistic-ally presented Rent. Even though it has quite simple lyrics, I felt like rediscovering its magic again. As if the saying "beauty is in simplicity" was valid even here.
But there was something happening on the stage virtually all the time, dancers danced, did somersaults, vocalists headed by Sylvia Mason-James sung (Sylvia "offered" her microphone to the audience in the end), simply the whole concert was fine (as fine as it could be given sound possibilities of the first row).
As agreed with Tanja, me, a few Russians and Andynka left immediately after Go West, heading to hotel Expo. Some other fans called me several times, but I had no time to stop (my mobile was in my bag) nor breath to talk. And even if I could, I couldn't say where I am (I was asked so by Tanja, and surely PSB could hesitate if meeting a "crowd" of fans), which I thought was the main reason of this demand.
After a while we reached the hotel, nobody there. So we waited outside. Then we moved inside and waited next to a reception. Around that time I've noticed about an hour old SMS from Alis, another Czech fan. She wrote they got autographs (as I found out during next day, they met them around midnight at the exit for performers - I didn't expect at all they would be there so long after the concert). So I called another fan if they didn't meet them, too. They didn't. Around 1:30 I left home.
It turned out during the next day that PSB probably really were in hotel Expo, but only to give interviews (as there was too much noise directly in festival area). They reportedly stayed in Four Seasons. So a photo with them maybe at some next time. In every case it was a big day, surely the interview for TV, fans meeting and PSB concert (and then also a while of hopeful waiting), this combination doesn't happen just so.
So the excellent general impression was - aside from pointless waiting in the hotel (but one has to count with that) - spoiled only by some lack of understanding (or more precisely the way - to some extent strange - this misunderstanding was shown) of some fans, who imagined I will be reachable via phone after the concert, even if this was not agreed in advance and there was no bad intention in it from my side.
But except these two drawbacks, the Friday evening was great. Hopefully I will remember it for a while.
By the way, there is going to be a PSB party in Prague in October. Details are yet to be finalized, those interested please e-mail me or keep an eye on my site.