Live Review: Roxette – Saturday 14th August 2010 – Marknadsplatsen, Halmstad, Sweden
After an eight year live absence as the famous duo and a new studio album pencilled in for early 2011, Swedens hook heavy pop juggernaut, Roxette, are back on the road with a series of European concerts throughout August and September of 2010.
Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle formed Roxette back in 1986 and went on to become one of the most successful acts throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s with monstrous hits which included The Look, Dressed For Success, Dangerous, Listen To Your Heart, Spending My Time, Joyride, Fading Like A Flower and the iconic power ballad, It Must Have Been Love.
The duo become world renowned for recording some of the most emotionally charged and epic power ballads as well as hook laden power pop records. With Marie’s immaculate and impeccably genuine vocals paired with Per’s ability to write the most infectious and distinguished hits, the Roxette wagon went on to become one of the worlds most adored bands.
Though the bands popularity slowed down in the late 1990’s, Roxette never stopped recording however in 2002 Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor. While the tumor was later removed Fredriksson has since been making a slow but successful recovery and has only over the past 2 years been getting back into the process of recording and performing.
Last year saw Marie and Roxette’s return to the world stage with dates throughout Europe with the touring concerts, Night of the Proms, easing into it by performing only five songs. Now in 2010 the duo have committed themselves to a small number of full length concerts and Renowned For Sound’s Editor Brandon traveled to Sweden to see his favorite band perform a greatest hits concert in Halmstad on Saturday August 14th.
I arrived in Halmstad from Gothenburg at around 14.30pm. After checking into my hotel which was conveniently located across the road I made my way to Marknadsplatsen, where the concert was to be held. There were a lot of changes to the concert leading up to the date. It was originally scheduled to take place in a small town in central Sweden called Anderstorp at the Scandinavian Raceway as part of the Race Legends event. Because tickets were not selling for the racing part of the event it was divided that Roxette would perform in Halmstad instead which held more significance to not only the band but to the Roxette fans attending. Halmstad was not only the birthplace of Gessle and the birthplace of Gessle’s music career in his band Gyllene Tider but it was also where Roxette were formed.
Approaching the queue I could here the sound of Joyride being blasted out over the park. There were already about 150 people waiting for the gates to open.
Two hours later and the band could be heard doing their sound check to Silver Blue, Things Will Never Be The Same, Opportunity Nox and Dressed For Success with the queue screaming out after each song.
At just after 17.00pm the gates were opened and everyone ran to get to the best position at the front of the stage. After a 15 minute wait the skies opened and we all got a dose of torrential rain which would last sporadically throughout the night.
At just after 19.00pm the music started with two Swedish support acts, Vikunja and Paintbox taking the opening honors.
At about 20.30pm a giant backdrop of the band rolled up and the crowd went crazy. 21.00pm hit and the moment had arrived. Per’s selection of favorite background tracks ended and the duo walked out waving to the crowds adoration.
They went straight into one of their most famous numbers, Dressed For Success. This is one of the bands most bolshy singles and Marie really put her all into it’s delivery and proved that the iconic songbird was back in full force.
Further full throttle singles Sleeping In My Car, Opportunity Nox and The Big L followed and gave the night an early thrust of energy with both Marie and Per in top form belting out their famous hits.
The tone mellowed out in time for Marie’s first big ballad moment. The strings and bass came crashing in and Wish I Could Fly took the crowd away. Marie’s vocals were powerful and pristine throughout the track with the ability to move the 15,000+ crowd.
Per then took the vocal reins with a thunderous double whammy of She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and 7Twenty7 which have always been major crowdpleasers and a pair of tracks to really get the crowd building up a sweat. And they certainly did.
Throughout the set Per often spoke to the crowd. Unfortunately most of the time he spoke in Swedish though he was easily followed with his gratifying gestures to Marie who has come a long way in the recovery cycle to be once again standing on stage performing her first full length Roxette concerts in eight years. At one time he bowed to Marie who was often being chanted at by her many legions of fans, some of who had traveled from international locations including South America, Australia, Mexico and The UK to see the band perform this very special show.
Some of the fan favorites got an incredible reaction during the concert with Things Will Never Be The Same and Silver Blue both getting thunderous responses from the crowd who never dreamed to have had the chance to hear or see these tracks being performed live again by the duo. An equal reception was given to Perfect Day which saw Marie and eccentric guitarist, Christopher Lundqvist, own the stage in a sweet and touching acoustic version of the Joyride album closing stunner. As soon as Marie finished her perfect performance the crowd erupted and proceeded to chant the singers name to an equally moved Gessle who joined the singer back on stage with the rest of the band to perform one of the duo’s most recognizable songs, It Must Have Been Love. The pulsating beats and immaculate harmonies heard throughout the song gave justice to the bands status as one of Europe’s most celebrated and internationally successful artists. The song also gave the crowd another opportunity to sing along with Marie and Per during the chorus.
Vocally, Marie was phenomenal. Her signature breathy tones and heart-aching textures were unsurpassed and Per’s energetic and effortless musicianship and stage presence was nothing less than astounding and inspiring.
The highlight of the night, personally, came with the opening piano bars of Fading Like A Flower. The song was the ideal addition to a perfect set of Roxette hits and was performed with the same energy and gusto as the original and had every set of lungs in the crowd singing along to the infectious chorus. It was a truly incredible atmosphere.
Further hits followed with How Do You Do!, the amazing Dangerous and the colossal Joyride which saw hundreds of balloons come rolling across the crowd during the second verse. Joyride saw the end of the first part of the concert in time for the bands first encore which consisted of the huge power ballad Listen To Your Heart and the bands most successful song and breakthrough single, The Look being given a grandeur performance.
Just when the crowd seemed to be at their most exhilerated, a second encore saw Gessle return to the stage with his other highly successful band, Gyllene Tider. The audience went hysterical as the band ripped straight into Juni, Juli, Augusti which was followed up nicely by Sommartider. A real treat for the Swedish fans in the crowd and those like myself who have also followed Per’s career outside of Roxette. Ending the night on a high, Fredriksson and the rest of the Roxette crew joined Gyllene Tider on stage for a combined singalong to Nar Alla Vannerna Gatt Hem before the band dispersed and Gessle, ever the true gentleman, walked Fredriksson offstage by held hands – a touching closing to the perfect event and evening.
The numbers that Roxette performed in Halmstad on Saturday were well picked. There were a couple that I hoped to hear including Crash Boom Bang and my favorite, Spending My Time, but the set they chose made up for these exclusions. The addition of non single fan favorites Things Will Never Be The Same, Silver Blue and Perfect Day, which I never imagined getting the chance to see being performed live, was priceless.
It was an event that a fan waits all their life for and Roxette fans the world over were given that chance over the weekend in pure symbolic style. The music was impeccable and the show was pieced together with precision. It was also a special event for Roxette fans to see how well Marie has recovered and how much of a fighter she has been after such a traumatic and turbulent decade.
Roxette in my opinion are a band that go unrivaled and getting such a rare opportunity to be there with the band and thousands of other devoted fans in Halmstad, the bands birthplace, to see a greatest hits collection being performed to absolute perfection and enthusiasm was a truly unmatchable experience.
Dressed For Success
Sleeping In My Car
The Big L
Wish I Could Fly
She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Things Will Never Be The Same
It Must Have Been Love
Fading Like A Flower
How Do You Do
Listen To Your Heart
Juni, Juli, Augusti
Nar Alla Vannerna Gatt Hem