What’s On and Hype profile Pet Shop Boys – Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe – who will headline the May installment of Sandance at Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai.

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in a London hi-fi shop in 1981. It was a fitting start – three decades later they are the most successful duo in UK music history and pop pioneers who have influenced numerous pop and rock acts. Here’s what some of them have had to say…

Jake Shears, Scissor Sisters: “When I hear their song New York City Boy I feel nostalgic. It reminds me of dancing on bars in New York – I felt that song was about me. I hope to follow in the Pet Shop Boys’ footsteps because what they’ve done is what I want to do.”

Robbie Williams: “I’m a huge Pet Shop Boys fan. Neil Tennant’s voice is classic. You like to listen to him talk because he sounds nice.”

Gary Barlow, Take That: “The first CD I ever bought was by the Pet Shop Boys. I’ve followed their whole career and have always loved their unique approach to records and live performance. They are two lovely people.”

Tim Rice Oxley, Keane: “The song West End Girls is impossible to pigeonhole. Was it rap, was it 1980s disco? It sounded incredibly English, but also a song from a northern town, or a London song, or perhaps an American song. And Being Boring is epic. It’s about regret and death and some pretty heavy things that haunt everyone. That was a whole new benchmark in pop. The Pet Shop Boys have continued to move forward and try new things. I can’t think of any other band from their era that is still doing that today. They’re really inspiring.”

Brandon Flowers, The Killers: “I bought a Pet Shop Boys record when I was a 13 years old and I was introduced to a new world of beats and sophistication. The song that meant something to me was Being Boring and the first song I danced to on a dancefloor was New York City Boy. Most pop acts don’t last five years, they’ve lasted 20 years and they’ve got better.”

Chris Martin, Coldplay: “When I was growing up I wanted to be a cross between Bono and Neil Tennant.”

The year Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe first met in an electronics shop in London.

Records sold worldwide.

Gigs in their first world tour back in 1991. Some 23 years later, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are still at it with more than 60 gigs on their latest Electric Tour.

Neil Tennant worked at music magazine Smash Hits for two years in the 1980s. He also worked for Marvel Comics before that.

Albums released since 1986, in which time the Pet Shop Boys have stuck with the tradition of giving each album a one-word title.


Guinness World Record for being the most successful duo in UK music history.

The amount the Pet Shop Boys art house movie It Couldn’t Happen Here made at the US box office when it was released in 1987. Better at creating hit songs, Neil and Chris have not starred in any films since.

The year their Yes album was almost banned in China since one of the songs was about “governments falling”. They got around it by making the song an instrumental.

Copies of their debut album, Please, sold worldwide. It went Platinum in both the UK and the US.

YouTube views for the West End Girls video as this issue of Hype went to press.

Copies best-selling album, Very, sold worldwide. It’s closely followed by Introspective, which sold 4.5 million copies.

BBC Radio listeners voted West End Girls as the ‘Song Of The Decade’ 1985 – 1994.

Singles released. Of those, 42 were Top 30 singles in the UK charts and 22 made it into the Top 10.

Fans showed up to hear the Pet Shop Boys’ first ever performance in Thailand. The gig ended their 2002 tour.

Ivor Novello awards won, including one for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Three of their albums – Very, Actually and Behaviour – are also featured in the book 1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, making them one of the most popular artists in the book.



Truth in the tally
The Pet Shop Boys have sold more than 50 million records worldwide

Gongs and glory
They won an award for Outstanding Contribution To Music at the 2009 Brit Awards

Game of the name
Originally called West End because they loved the famous London neighbourhood, the duo renamed themselves Pet Shop Boys as homage to friends who worked in a pet shop in west London

Local heroes
Aged 21, Neil got a job at Marvel, rewriting comic book dialogue

From pages to stages
In the early 80s, Neil worked for teen pop magazine Smash Hits

Pop horn
In his hometown Blackpool, Chris played trombone in a band doing cover versions of tracks like Hello Dolly and Moon River

Moving tribute
Chris famously stands still behind his keyboard while performing. The Guardian newspaper once said he is “possibly more famous for not doing anything than anyone else in the history of popular entertainment.”


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Omar Basaad
The Saudi DJ and producer has the honour of performing the closing set of Sandance. Omar’s influences include Steve Angello and Daft Punk, as well as Khaleeji rhythms.

The Cape Town dance act are well-versed in working an outdoor crowd with live instruments, samplers and special effects. They have the likes of David Guetta and Fedde Le Grande demanding remixes, and have sold out shows from Amsterdam to Miami, and from Sydney to São Paulo.

Dubai’s own Hollaphonic step up to the decks after Pet Shop Boys. The first electronic dance duo to be signed by a major record label in the Middle East, their debut single I Don’t Want It To End went straight to No 1 on iTunes.

Scouting For Girls
Alternative rock band Scouting For Girls became radio favourites with songs like She’s So Lovely, Elvis Ain’t Dead, Heartbeat and Love How It Hurts. Their upbeat blend of guitar and piano has resulted in sales of more than two million records, and justified a greatest hits album and tour. Not bad for a band that only formed in 2005.

Sandance, Atlantis, The Palm Jumeirah. Friday, 3pm to 3am, from Dhs300. Taxi to Atlantis. sandance.ae