Pet Shop Boys review – Ibiza nightclub meets Fritz Lang's Metropolis

Some people have noted that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe lack the look-at-us gene usually associated with pop showmanship.

Dress them in rubber jackets studded with eight-inch spikes and put metal Viking helmets on their heads – they still blend into the scenery, overshadowed by their own backing dancers. Yet their reticence anchors a gig that is otherwise a cross between an Ibiza nightclub and Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Pet Shop Boys are just one element of an audio-visual spectacular that replicates a clubbing experience; for the first 10 minutes, all we see of them are huge sketches of their heads – Tennant is now bald, Lowe is still baseball-capped – projected on to a screen.

This is, in every way, a big show. Obviously designed for venues larger than the 4,500-capacity Brighton Centre – a warning at the box office says: "Lots of strobe lighting and smoke in this show" – it balances dystopian visuals (circuitboards, mile-high skyscrapers and the like) with a setlist comprising hit after hit. They find room for bits of their 12th studio album, Electric, and these back-to-the-disco ravers give the gig a clubby uplift. But this is basically a best-of set, catering to couples who met when Opportunities, Rent and West End Girls were in the charts. As the classics roll out, their once-futuristic chrome sheen still untarnished, fans face away from the stage and take selfies, capturing a microscopic Tennant and Lowe in the frame.

There's headgear: mirrored helmets, metal crowns, a fez for Tennant and, for the dancers, horned animal heads. And, overwhelmingly, there are strobes and lasers, a Bonfire Night's worth of illumination. The brain gently fries under the onslaught: is this theatre or a rave? Both, in fact. And when Tennant introduces It's a Sin with, "OK, Brighton, let's go crazy!" it would be rude not to.

• 13 June. Box office: 0121 780 4141. Venue: LG Arena, Birmingham. Then touring.

Powered by article was written by Caroline Sullivan, for The Guardian on Friday 30th May 2014 14.31 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010