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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Oct 2019 > LIVE & EVENTS

LIVE & EVENTS

MUSIK: THE BILLIE TRIX STORY LEICESTER SQUARE THEATRE, LONDON

© The Other Richard

★★★★

3 SEPTEMBER

FOUR NEW PET SHOP BOYS SONGS FEATURE IN THEIR SECOND THEATRICAL VENTURE, BUT IT’S ALL ABOUT FRANCES BARBER’S HILARIOUS PERFORMANCE THIS TIME ROUND AS SHE OUT-DIVAS EVERYONE IN THE ONE-WOMAN SHOW

One of the most welcome surprises of the year came when Pet Shop Boys announced they were doing a sort-of sequel to their 2001 musical Closer To Heaven. Although it only ran for five months, it was far better than most cheesy catalogue musicals, which is probably why it didn’t last. It also featured an album’s worth of new PSB songs, though the cast’s soundtrack is longdeleted and the Pets’ own versions are spread across various B-sides and deluxe album reissues.

Their new theatrical foray is much different, despite Frances Barber reprising her Closer To Heaven role as fading pop star Billie Trix. The conceit is Billie telling her life story in a onewoman show. In practice, this lets playwright Jonathan Harvey run riot. Funny as it was, Closer To Heaven had important things to say about love and equality.

Freed from needing to have a plot or a moral, Musik allows writer and performer to have an absolute blast. Harvey is as scatalogically hilarious as he’s been since creating Kathy Burke sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme, while Barber is more than capable of vamping up every single line.

As deliciously filthy (and unprintable) as Harvey’s jokes are, Billie’s barbs at Madonna, The Velvet Underground, Shania Twain and a host of other pop culture figures are done with huge affection. The missing link between Lady Gaga and Mommie Dearest, Billie starts out rejected by her mother and ends up fleeced by a fake count, just as the countless shows at Madison Square Garden are starting to dry up. She’s so intense and disturbed, Billie even takes out a restraining order on her own daughter. Only Donald Trump attracts some real venom, as Billie curses that she could have been the First Lady, if only it wasn’t for Trump’s walnut whip manhood.

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About Classic Pop

In the latest issue we have a world exclusive with INXS about the forthcoming Michael Hutchence documentary Mystify and hear how their legendary 1991 Wembley Stadium show is about to hit cinemas as part of a revamped Live Baby Live release. Elsewhere, we chat to Five Star’s Denise Pearson about the latest incarnation of her group and meet video director Tim Pope to shine a light on his influential promos for the likes of The Cure, Soft Cell and Talk Talk. We also interview 80s icon Kid Creole as he launches a new record label and take an in-depth album-by-album look at the back catalogue of the imperious Grace Jones. Black Box’s Daniele Davoli lifts the lid on the controversial story of Ride On Time and Berlin’s Terri Nunn tells us about the band’s latest studio LP, Transcendance. Our classic album this month is Janet Jackson’s game-changing Control and we also look at the early years of Depeche Mode as the band recovered by the exit of Vince Clarke. On the reviews front, we run our critical eye over new releases including The Lilac Time, Liam Gallagher, Simple Minds, Elbow and Mika while in our packed reissues section there’s releases by OMD, Mel & Kim, Haircut 100, The Specials, Prince, Midge Ure, A-ha, Marc Almond and much more. For live reviews, we check out Pet Shops Boys’ latest theatrical show Musik and elbow our way to the front for gigs by Edwyn Collins and Salt-N-Pepa before finishing the festival season at Victorious, Towersey and Paredes de Coura.