How Pet Shop Boys nearly split up over Sheffield concert

Pet Shop Boys.
Pet Shop Boys.

Veteran synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys were once on the verge of splitting up – in Sheffield.

The songwriting pair – singer Neil Tennant and keyboard player Chris Lowe – formed in London in 1981, have sold millions of records and are preparing a new album, which will be their 14th studio LP.

Pet Shop Boys on the Nightlife tour, which came to Sheffield in 1999.

Pet Shop Boys on the Nightlife tour, which came to Sheffield in 1999.

But the closest Tennant and Lowe have ever come to calling it a day, it has been reported, was when they appeared in Sheffield in 1999 on their Nightlife tour, dates that were marred by concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith's company going bankrupt.

“We were playing to half-empty arenas, losing a fortune,” Tennant told The Guardian in an interview to promote a new book, a collection of his lyrics. “It came to a head one night at Sheffield Arena. I said to Chris, ‘Why don’t we just pack it in?’ And Chris didn’t answer. So we started talking about something else.”

Pet Shop Boys, best known for UK Top 10 hits such as West End Girls, It’s A Sin and Suburbia, last played in Sheffield in 2002 at City Hall. 

Tennant’s book, One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem, is published on November 1 by Faber.