200 lucky “listeners” enjoy private, intimate dinner and concert set in Experience Music Project’s ‘Sky Church’
Editor’s Note: In a promo tour full of “highlights,” this is by far the one event that shone the brightest. TDR will be bringing you a “re-packaged” report on the entire tour soon, including that exclusive interview with Per Gessle that we’ve been promising our readers. LEO
SEATTLE Having been blessed with a beautiful, sunny Autumn day in this city known for rain, the 200 or so people waiting in line outside the Frank Gehrey-designed Experimental Music Project (EMP) didn’t have much chance to be bored. There was plenty to look at from the world-famous Space Needle just a short distance away, to the carnival-like roller coaster “joyrides” just across the sidewalk.
Star 101.5 (KPLZ) had billed this event as a “Listener Appreciation Party,” and they were true to their word. Those on the guest list almost all of whom had won their tickets on-the-air were mostly unaware of the VIP treatment they’d experience once inside. Awaiting them was a gourmet buffet dinner, catered by the EMP’s own Liquid Lounge, and, of course, the intimate but fully-staged concert by Roxette.
The concert itself was held inside a space that that EMP and Gehrey have named “Sky Church.” Per and Marie have never played a venue quite this unique and appropriate. Performing in a brand-new, undulating building that almost defies description and perhaps inspired by the design of an architect that Per thinks is “fab” Roxette played flawlessly, aided by a state-of-the-art sound system in a hall with suberb, professionally-engineered acoustics.
The set list was “Wish I Could Fly,” “It Must Have Been Love,” “Joyride,” “Perfect Day,” “Church of Your Heart” (added to tour repetoire especially for this venue), “Listen to Your Heart,” and “The Look.” “Spending My Time” had been preselected for an encore, which of course was necessary.
“All I can say is ‘wow'” exclaimed Steven Espinosa, a board member of RoxNorthAmeriFANS who had driven almost 1,000 miles from Los Angeles to attend the show. “Roxette was perfect,” he said. Alex Faraldo, who also serves on the RNAF board and had flown in from Florida, added “I think Roxette played one of their very best intimate concerts. It was the next best thing to being in the studio audience for ‘MTV Unplugged’.”
With a guitar collection second to none, the Experience Music Project (EMP) is in Seattle Center almost directly underneath the Space Needle. It is an interactive, music “museum.” EMP celebrates and explores creativity and innovation as expressed through American popular music and exemplified by rock ‘n’ roll. Many exhibits provide for “hands-on” involvement, including rooms that allow you to “jam” on real instruments.
Web cams on the EMP site offer views of the “Roots and Branches” tree-trunk-like sculpture comprised of hundreds of guitars and other instruments, some of which are customized and MIDI-controlled to play compositions from the various genres of American popular music; the EMP store, and the Sound Lab on the third floor, where you can learn a hot guitar lick, mix a Platinum record, or perform for an audience of thousands.
After the concert, Roxette was invited to a reception with radio station personnel, EMP curators, and others in the Founder’s Room on the upper level of the building.
All photos ©2000 by Lars-Erik Olson/TDR
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