We all have songs that evoke the sights and sounds of yesteryear and, for me, one of them is It Must Have Been Love by Roxette. I’m transported back to a smoke filled haze at ‘Stags’ at Auburn RSL in the early 90s. After the local band had finished, the DJ would play a cluster of the most popular hits of the time, which included the aforementioned chartbuster. It was a monster hit and we’d grab an empty bottle off the table and sing into it at the top of our lungs. It didn’t matter that we sounded terrible, we had some great times in that venue and that song is always associated with those memories. Back then, Roxette dominated the airwaves with a string of worldwide hits. I remember I wanted to look like Marie Fredriksson as, in my eyes, she was the epitome of cool.
On this occasion, Roxette are in Australia as part of their XXX tour – a celebration of 30 years of music. The tour commenced in 2014 and is set to finish in 2016. When you’ve managed to survive the music industry for that long, why wouldn’t you make it a massive global celebration? The last time they performed in Sydney, back in 2012, was one of the best shows we’d ever seen of any band so tonight’s performance had a lot to live up to and we couldn’t wait for it to begin.
Boom Crash Opera did a great job as opening act, with many in the crowd standing up and singing along to all their big hits, which included Onion Skin, Great Wall and Hands Up in the Air. The band were all smiles and enjoying themselves. When two girls in the front attempted to take a selfie with their backs to the stage, they were photo bombed by the lads, providing an amusing moment that drew laughs from the audience. As the band finished their set, many yelled for more.
By this stage, the venue was almost at capacity and it was evident by the different age groups that Roxette’s timeless hits appealed to many generations of music fans.
When the headliners made their way onto the stage, I must admit I didn’t know what to expect when Fredriksson was escorted to a stool on the stage. Yet, despite her physical impairment, she looked well, relaxed and happy; she Looked Sharp and as the music began, she and Per Gessle were ready to take us on a Joyride! You could tell by the way Fredriksson reacted to the audience that she was having fun and her beaming smile throughout the night was testament to that. Dressed in leather pants and a black & gold print jacket, she still looked very cool to me.
As they launched into Sleeping in My Car, the energy on the stage spread to the crowd as many rose to their feet and cheered them on. I am always amazed by Gessle’s vitality. He is one fit 56 year old and he just doesn’t stand still as he covers every inch of that stage!
Next on the set list are The Big L, Stars, Spending My Time and Crash! Boom! Bang! The dynamic duo are supported by a great band of musicians, each one contributing to the enjoyment of the evening. The mutual respect and admiration Marie, Per and the band have for each other is evident and there were moments during the night where they were so immersed in their performance that it was just pure magic.
Guitarist Christoffer Lundquist is a madman! Let him loose and he gives it everything he’s got and then some. It’s fun to watch him and Gessle jamming on that stage. Then there is bassist and alleged Volvo driver Magnus Borjeson who is brilliant for his “silly dances” according to Gessle. Pair these guys with drummer Per Alsing and Elvis Costello lookalike – keyboard player Clarence Ofwerman – and you have the complete engine room that did not miss a beat all night.
The pace eased and pink and red lighting set the scene for some beautiful ballads. Fredriksson sang solo for The Heart Shaped Sea, accompanied by multi-talented backup singer Dea Norberg on piano. The lights twinkling behind the stage set the mood for this lovely song. This was followed by Watercolours in the Rain and Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave). The audience swayed and couples embraced.
Then it was time for the big hits and the action on stage was taken to another level. As the guitarists moved around the stage, we danced and sang our hearts out to How Do You Do, It Must Have Been Love, Dressed For Success and Dangerous. We had forgotten there were so many hits and it was great to hear them all again! We savoured every moment, every beat. If I closed my eyes, we could be back at Stags.
Fredriksson gave it her all to hit those money notes and as she did, she was rewarded with cheers of appreciation. I can honestly say, the show did not suffer from her lack of mobility and her vocals were as impressive as I remember them.
Then it was time for Lundquist’s all-out shredding guitar solo of Waltzing Matilda which then launched into the main set’s finale Joyride.
The band then left the stage briefly before returning for an Encore of Almost Unreal, Listen to Your Heart and finishing with everyone’s favourite The Look. The crowd stamped their feet and yelled for more. After all, why would you want a good time to end? Yet, when it does, we appreciate the performance even more.
It was a touching sight to watch Gessle extend his arm to Fredriksson to assist her off stage after the rest of the band had already departed. As they waved goodbye and slowly disappeared into the darkness, I wished that I could thank them for their wonderful music and the songs that have contributed to the soundtrack of my life.
As we left the venue, we could hear punters humming and singing Roxette hits as they made their way to their cars. Having taken a wonderful trip down memory lane, new memories were created and we were floating on a high and thankful we enjoyed another great night with Roxette.
In the tour program, Gessle is quoted as saying “We’re a shit-hot band with an incredible back-catalogue of songs” and we have to say that we agree.
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For Roxette tour information visit www.livenation.com.au