EDINBURGH’S summer Festival may have a few more days to run, but the capital landmark is already gearing up for Hogmanay, after one of England’s best-known pop outfits were confirmed to headline the celebrations.
Seven years after a previously planned appearance was scuppered by bad weather, the Pet Shop Boys - who have sold more than 50 million albums to date - have been booked for a return visit to round off a massive world tour.
Organisers are promising a full sound and light show from the band, who lit up the closing ceremony of the London Olympics, and are expected to perform their iconic pop and dance hits for almost 90 minutes over The Bells in Edinburgh.
Tickets have gone on sale much earlier than normal after last year’s headliners, Simple Minds, were only confirmed in mid-November and the event failed to sell out.
Organisers are expecting the event to have a much higher profile this year because of the impending independence referendum, and the staging of both the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in Scotland in 2014.
The electronic pop pioneers will be one of three acts to appear at the showpiece concert in Princes Street Gardens and have been given top-billing following previous headliners like Primal Scream, Biffy Clyro, Simple Minds, Madness, Groove Armada, Kasabian, Scissor Sisters, KT Tunstall, Blondie, Texas, The Proclaimers and The Mavericks.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first major Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh - although two of the showpiece celebrations were cancelled due to heavy winds.
The Pet Shop Boys were due to headline the most recent cancelled event, in 2006-7, only for the event to be called off by police and city council officials at 9pm. Events in Glasgow and Stirling also fell victim to the foul weather.
Now the most successful duo in the history of the British music industry, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe released their 12th album earlier to widespread critical acclaim last month, shortly just after performing spectacular indoor shows at the 02 in London and the Manchester Arena.
Their Hogmanay appearance will round off a 45-date “Electric” tour which takes in 25 different countries and is due to visit Poland, Germany, the United States, Canada and Mexico before arriving in Edinburgh.
Tennant said: “We are delighted to bring this show to Scotland on New Year’s Eve.
“We’ve always felt we’ve had some unfinished Hogmanay business in Edinburgh after the weather put a stop to the planned 2006 show and this is going to be a fantastic way to see in the new year.”
The pair formed the band in London 33 years ago, shot to fame in 1985 with their debut single West End Girls, which went to number one on both sides of the Atlantic, and went on to have huge hits with the likes of It’s A Sin, Rent, Go West, Always On My Mind and Heart.
The Pet Shop Boys were honoured for their outstanding contribution to music at the Brit Awards ceremony four years ago and have underwent a recent revival, with the “Electric” album their most successful for 20 years.
Pete Irvine, artistic director of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, said: “I think they have a much higher profile than the last time we booked them.
“They have completely rejuvenated themselves with the new album, which almost went to number one, and they have a real universal appeal. They are also very much a band of the moment as the album has only just come out and they are on tour with it at the moment.
“Hogmanay has a real international audience and the Pet Shop Boys are one of these acts that have loads of party tunes that almost everyone recognises. I’m confident we’ll sell out in advance this year with their appeal.”
The Pet Shop Boys tour has already taken in Barcelona’s Sonar Festival, the Ruisrock Festival in Finland, the Tollwood Festival in Munich and the Sonic Bang Festival in Thailand.
The Guardian’s review of the Pet Shop Boys’ O2 show praised them for a “deft balance of energy, warmth, wit and spectacle that most younger, bigger pop stars struggle to match” while The Independent said they managed to “pack more ideas into these two hours than this venue usually sees in two months.”
Tickets for the Hogmanay concert go on sale on Friday, priced £40 and £45.
Tickets for the street party on Princes Street went on sale last month, much earlier than normal, with the cost of most tickets rising from £15 to £20.
However thousands of “early bird” tickets are available at £16 - but only to people living in Edinburgh.
Mr Irvine added: “People are always telling us that the tickets for the street party are seen as pretty cheap if you are coming from around the world for Hogmanay. It’s only people in Edinburgh that seem to think they are expensive.”
The full line-up for the three-day Hogmanay festival in Edinburgh will be revealed in November.