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Pet Shop Boys Celebrate Anniversary With Work

Of the Oakland Press

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It’s been 25 years since Pet Shop Boys formed in London.

Some people have noticed. A publisher, Thames & Hudson, put together a lavish book, “Catalogue,” chronicling the visual component of the electronic pop duo. England’s National Portrait Gallery commissioned an exhibit dedicated to the group.

But not joining the celebration are the two people who matter most — Pet Shop Boys’ frontman Neil Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe.

“It’s not the sort of thing we think about at all,” says Lowe, 47, a former architecture student who fi rst met Tennant, a former Marvel Comics editor and music journalist, at an electronic shop. “We don’t recognize landmark dates or anything like that. They sort of get foisted on you a bit, and you can’t ignore them in the end.

“But I don’t like it ’cause it’s sort of ... punctuation. I like continuity.”

So rather than refl ect, Tennant and Lowe have been doing what they like best — working.

This year has been particularly busy for the duo. They released their ninth studio album, “Fundamentalism,” as well as a compilation (“PopArt: The Hits”) and a live DVD, “Concrete: In Concert at the Mermaid Theatre.” They also remixed Madonna’s hit, “Sorry,” for club play and produced two songs for British superstar Robbie Williams’ new album — including, ironically, his remake of the My Robot Friends’ song “We are Pet Shop Boys.”

But Lowe says that making their own music — including hits such as “West End Girls,” “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money),” “It’s a Sin” and “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” — is what’s really kept him and Tennant together for so long.

“We still love songwriting, and we’re not struggling to do it,” he explains. “It’s not difficult for us. We haven’t reached a cul de sac or anything like that. And we still have a lot of music in us, I think.

“In terms of pop music, we’re doing quite well, ’cause pop is not meant to last very long at all. But I don’t think it’s fair that because you decide to make pop music your career should be limited. We’ll carry on as long as the music is within us.”

Lowe sees plenty of vistas ahead for the duo. After creating a new score for the 1925 silent fi lm “Battleship Potemkin,” a limited-run British stage production about gay issues called “Closer to Heaven” and several theatrically minded tour productions, he’d like to see Pet Shop Boys try their hand at a different kind of dance music.

“I think we’d quite like to write a ballet,” Lowe says. “We’ve got an idea for one, and we know a ballet dancer in London who wants us to do something, so that might happen.

“They always seem to take quite a while to come together, though. We’re very good at spending a lot of time working on something that’s not going to bring us financial reward,” he adds with a laugh.

But one thing the duo aren’t interested in, Lowe notes, is a “jukebox” musical crafted from its songs, à la ABBA’s “Mama Mia” or Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”

“No, we don’t want to do the greatest hits show,” he says. “That doesn’t appeal to us in any way at all — which is a shame, ’cause that might make money.”

Pet Shop Boys perform 7 p.m. Thursday at the State Theatre, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $47.50-$89.50. Call (313) 961-5150 or visit

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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