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Live Review: The Cardigans – 7th December 2018 – Eventim Apollo, London, UK

4 min read

One of Sweden’s most successful musical exports returned to the capital this past weekend to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the finest releases in modern pop music. The Cardigans found success early in their career with the release of Lovefool which launched the band onto the international stage following its staple spot in the 1996 Baz Luhrmann film, Romeo + Juliet but 1998’s Gran Turismo solidified the bands position in the pop music hall of fame thanks to tracks like Erase/Rewind and the gritty My Favourite Game.

Music has taken a dip in credibility over the past two decades so the Swedish band, led by the distinctive and syrupy vocals of stunning front-woman Nina Perrson were in town to remind us of what was so fantastic about the 90’s and the records that were produced with such delicate precision and craft – records like the impeccable Gran Turismo which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and the record that the band are now on the road to celebrate as they play the release in its entirety to their enormous fan-base.

With the records sunset artwork draped across the back walls of the stage, fans flooded Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo for the bands return to the capital – something that has not been seen in some time in the UK. Taking to the stage in a flowing satin ensemble, Perrson and her band emerged a little after 9pm and set out to deliver a masterful performance of a truly iconic record with the eerie Paralyzed washing over the venue and transporting us back to the bands heyday before first major single offering, Erase/Rewind had the crowd dancing and belting along with the Swedish hit-makers.

Each track performed was given as much commitment to the last in terms of delivering each as close to the original recording as possible. Perrson was flawless in her vocal delivery; not a bum not was hit as she swam through each song with vocal finesse and conviction; her whispery voice caressing album numbers like Explode and the dreamy Higher while her inner rock chick was unleashed when it came to pop juggernauts like the full throttle My Favourite Game.

The bands performance was on top form during their Gran Turismo set and throughout performances of other career notables like the harmonica driven For What It’s Worth, early career track Carnival, more recent repertoire addition Don’t Blame Your Daughter (Diamonds) and their Romeo + Juliet breakthrough hit, Lovefool – even despite the sound cutting out on two occasions, including at the midway point of Higher where Persson admitted to the crowd “this has never happened to us in 20 years” and again during their performance of Lovefool; this time seeing the singer sit down with her guitar wielding band-mate for a cheeky game which has the crowd amused. It wasn’t long before things got back on track and the band were back to performing their hits for a patient and awestruck audience.

The Cardigans aren’t a band who tour very frequently so the opportunity to see such a 90’s staple is truly amazing. To see the band perform their most successful record and one that helped shape the face of 90’s pop/rock takes things to a whole new level. Each track was performed with expert precision and true to its original form making Friday nights performances a truly magical experience for a Cardigans fan.

Setlist:
Paralyzed
Erase/Rewind
Explode
Starter
Hanging Around
Higher
Marvel Hill
My Favourite Game
Do You Believe
Junk of the Hearts
Nil

Live and Learn
For What It’s Worth
And Then You Kissed Me
Don’t Blame Your Daughter (Diamonds)
You’re the Storm
I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer

Encore:
Communication
Iron Man (Black Sabbath cover)
Carnival
Lovefool
03.45: No Sleep