Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant recalls ‘worst moment’ of his life at Glastonbury

Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant has said the opening of their last Glastonbury set was the “worst moment” of his life as technical difficulties disrupted the performance.

The British pop duo, comprising of singer Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe, headlined the Other Stage on the festival’s last night in 2022, which was broadcast live on BBC.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast to discuss their new album, Tennant recalled how a screen malfunctioned which made it appear as if he was performing alone as Lowe was trapped behind it.

Glastonbury Festival 2022
Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys performing on The Other Stage at the Glastonbury Festival (Ben Birchall/PA)

He said: “In our show there’s a screen and the screen goes up briefly, Chris and I appear and walk forward.

“Glastonbury of course is live on television, we were headlining the Other Stage on the Sunday night, there’s 70,000 people there.

“And the screen rose by about 10 inches and stopped and we just looked at each other and we couldn’t talk because you have the music in your headphones then.

“So we both made a dash for it and ran around the front, Chris couldn’t get to his front keyboard in time so he went to a second keyboard positioned at the back and suddenly I run around and I think ‘I’m here by myself on live on television’.”

Tennant continued: “I didn’t know what had gone wrong, no one tells you and I had to do the first six songs by myself with an empty keyboard next to me.

“We had three other musicians, they were all behind the screen.”

Lowe recalled that as no one could see him playing behind the screen, “Where’s Chris?” began to trend on Twitter.

After the first six songs, Tennant had to head off to get changed and while he was away the issue was resolved.

He added: “There’s was a real adrenaline rush off that. The first six songs – it was really an awful moment.”

The pop-synth duo launched their career in 1984 with the track West End Girls which became the first of four number ones, and also topped the Billboard charts.

Forty years on from their first single, the group have released their 15th studio album Nonetheless.

Pet Shop Boys tour – London
Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys (Suzan Moore/PA)

It sees them return to the Parlophone label but a new producer in James Ford, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys, Blur and The Last Dinner Party.

Discussing the album, Lowe said: “I didn’t realise we were making an album.

“I was just writing music, sending it to Neil, he was sending music back to me and we were just having a really nice time writing music.

“And then one day Neil said ‘Well, I think the album is finished’ and he’d sequenced the whole thing.”

He added: “The music has come out of some pleasure, not under some deadline or contractual thing or something.

“We were really really enjoying it.

“I think there’s a freshness to this album, which is also to do with the production by a guy called James Ford.

“That really comes out of it because of that, because the circumstances it was written in.”

Tennant said it feels “incredible” to have made it to 15 albums, as he initially did not think they would complete their first deal of seven.

“I remember in 1975 we signed the deal with EMI records in those days and it was for seven albums,” he explained.

“I remember when we signed it I said ‘Like we’ll ever make seven albums’.

“Because to make one album back in the day seemed like a big mountain to climb and here we are at 15.”

Throughout their career, the Pet Shop Boys have had 44 UK Top 40 tracks and a string of hits including It’s A Sin, Always On My Mind, and Heart – which all reached number one in the UK, according to the Official Charts Company.

They have also won several Brit awards, including for best single for West End Girls in 1987, as well as outstanding contribution to British music at the Ivor Novello Awards in 2000.