pet shop boys 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When you’re the most successful British musical duo in history, you tend to
attract some attention. But that is the kind of interest that Neil Tennant and
Chris Lowe who make up the wildly successful techno/Britpop team Pet Shop Boys
could probably do without.
In the midst of a high-profile world tour
ahead of the release of their 12th album, Electric , the group behind classic
dance hits from the 1980s and ‘90s like “West End Girls,” “It’s a Sin,” and
“What Have I Done to Deserve This?” are having to fend off a particularly
aggressive campaign by pro- Palestinian groups to shame them into canceling
their upcoming Tel Aviv show on Sunday at the Nokia Arena.
Hot on the
heels of the whole Alice Walker-Alicia Keys media fest, in which The Color
Purple author unsuccessfully called on the American R&B star to call off her
July 4 show at the Nokia Arena, the anti-Israel campaign launched by one
Britain-based group called Innovative Minds continued the attempt to portray
Israel as an oppressive apartheid state.
“Cancel your Tel Aviv
concert. Stand with the oppressed – open your eyes to the ugly reality of
apartheid Israel” was the headline of a poster prepared by the organization,
which featured a picture of Pet Shop Boys Tennant and Lowe wearing glasses with
the captions “1 child killed every three days” and “2 kids caged every day.” The
poster was part of a demonstration that was planned to take place in London on
Wednesday outside the British Film Institute during a screening of vintage film
Battleship Potemkin in the presence of the duo, who had composed a new
soundtrack for the movie.
After the campaign went public this week,
Tennant posted on his the band’s official website that no comparisons should be
made between Israeli policy and apartheid in South Africa.
”I don’t agree
with this comparison of Israel to apartheid- era South Africa,” Tennant
wrote. “It’s a caricature. Israel has (in my opinion) some crude and
cruel policies based on defense; it also has universal suffrage and equality of
rights for all its citizens, both Jewish and Arab... In apartheid-era South
Africa, artists could only play to segregated audiences. In Israel, anyone who
buys a ticket can attend a concert.”
Tennant should know what he’s
talking about, as Pet Shop Boys have performed in Israel twice before, in 1999
and 2009, to legions of fans. As one of the more active out-of-the closet acts
in support of gay rights, Tennant and Lowe might also have been impressed by
Israel’s vibrant LGBT community and generally gay- friendly society. Whatever
the deciding factor, the show will go on Sunday.
Concert promoter Plug
Production Generators issued a statement saying that the pressure on Pet Shop
Boys to cancel their show was nothing new or unexpected.
taking it very seriously. The preparations for the show are underway, and the
band is very excited about visiting Israel,” the statement read.
goes for the audience, who will get the chance to see the group on their first
tour in four years. Always stylistic fashion plates, Tennant and Lowe have
increasingly used video and theatrics in their live performances, and Sunday’s
show will likely be a multimedia extravaganza.
While their music may
sound frothy and innocuous, Pet Shop Boys are actually as subversive as any
hardcore punk band. Described by the All-Music Guide as “postmodern
ironists cloaked behind a veil of buoyantly melodic and lushly romantic synth
pop confections,” there’s a lot more going on than meets the ear. And based on
Tennant’s mostly positive defense of Israel against the would-be boycotters,
there’s also some substance apart from the music as well.
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