A Canuck traveling with Roxette

Roxette World Tour – September 2012

After many years working in the media, and with the opportunity to interview Roxette’s Per Gessle several years ago, this media/long-time fan and supporter had been waiting 20 years to FINALLY see one of Sweden’s biggest exports perform live again in North America.

“If You Had One Wish, What Would it Be?”

In April 2012 Roxette announced they would perform again in New York City September 2.  Without any thought I grabbed my calendar and checked my work schedule for September then grabbed to phone to make a call to my good buddy Thomas in Sweden.  “Hey, so are we going?!”  Thomas replies, “That’s a big 10-4!”

“C’mon Join The Joyride”

Tickets bought, flights booked, and then at long last Roxette announces not just a few dates in Canada but 8 in total! This was just too good to be true! Grabbed my calendar again and checked out what dates would fit into my busy schedule and sure enough; Edmonton and Vancouver were a go!  Front row seats were booked, hotels and flight in early May and my 20-year anticipation to Join The Joyride was now in the wings and waiting.  Some close friends in Calgary were also ready to Joyride with us to New York and they also booked their trip from Alberta to the Big Apple.

“Dressed for Success”

On previous tours Marie was known to wear the sports jerseys of the local hockey teams while performing “Dressed for Success”. Being a long-time Vancouver Canucks fan I ordered a Canucks hockey jersey with the number “12” on the back and ROXETTE for the name.  I was going to wear this to the concerts.   I was hoping I would at some point on their tour get this thing signed! 

“It all begins, where it ends…”

I flew into New York City on a bright, hot and humid September 1 to meet up with Thomas.  The concert was Sunday night.  There were “rumors” we were going backstage to meet Per and Marie Sunday night before the show.  I was very excited!

Sunday evening before the concert at the Beacon Theatre we attended a Roxette-USA fan gathering.  It was a great opportunity to meet with other fans that we had both corresponded with many times online and through Facebook over the years. To get some faces to the names, you know?  I had the privilege to meet Swedish author and radio host of Sirus-XM’s Nordic Rox Show, Sven Lindström at the fan party.  I had read his biography on Per Gessle [Being Per Gessle] a couple of years earlier.  Thomas knew Sven and introduced me.  I bought a round of beers and had a good chat about my interview with Per I did in 2006 and I told Sven I had a Vancouver jersey made and I was hoping to have Per and Marie sign it before the show tonight.   Sven said “Let’s see it”.  I pulled the jersey out of the bag and held it up.  Sven thought it was great and said, “I want to take a picture”.  Thomas said, “smile”. 

Sven had been touring around with Roxette for the last few American shows, not to mention the South American tour last spring, and is currently writing a book about Roxette and the fans are a big component in the upcoming biography.  What an honor to meet Sven!

We left the venue with Sven to walk up to the Beacon Theatre on West Broadway in New York City.  This grand old theatre is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  I mentioned to Sven, “I hope to have Roxette sign my jersey”.  He said, “I will be there”.

We arrived early for the show. There were many fans lined up to go backstage for the meet and greet.  Thomas’s connection with the band from many years was very apparent and we were, after a few moments of confusion, given wristbands to head backstage to meet Per and Marie. Thomas took the photos.

“It’s Possible”

As we were walking down the stairs to the meeting room underneath the stage of the Beacon Theatre the nerves began to hit.  Then Thomas says, “I’m nervous too”.  Marie Dimberg, Roxette’s long-time manager who had just arrived from London, greeted us and she instructed us on how the meet and greet would proceed.  The fans were standing on one side of the room, and guests of Ms. Dimberg were standing on the other side of the room.  We waited for about 10 minutes and all I remember was looking to the right to the door and in walked Marie Fredriksson, she burst into the room like a ray of sunshine with her hands open ready to give you a big hug.  She loves her fans, I can assure you that.  Then Per bounces into the room, giddy like a school boy, soaking it all in.  Mischievous but so happy to be with the fans. This was the moment I had waited 20 years for.

There were photographers in the room from the Swedish press as well as Thomas.  Per and Marie spent some time with the fans, took photos then one by one, Per was led to our side the room.  I was first in line.  Proudly holding my Vancouver Canucks jersey in one arm, Marie Dimberg introduced me to Per personally – we shake hands.  I had the chance to chat with him about our radio interview back in 2006 and thanked him so much for taking the time to meet us.  I held up my ROXETTE 12 jersey and asked him to sign it.  “Number 1 or number two Per”?   Per says “I’ll sign number 2”.

Then Marie made her way over to us and Marie Dimberg graciously introduced me to Marie F.  Marie is so full of love and graciousness.  She grabbed my hand to shake, not with one, but two hands and says, “thank you so much for coming, we love you guys as well”.  I asked her if she would sign me jersey, “I would love to – I love it, thank you” Marie said. Thomas was taking a photo of Marie and I when Per started shaking Thomas around. So there’s no good shot of us… Ha ha!

We then gathered for a group photo.  I Marie was standing to my right and Per in the middle. I looked over at Per and said, “Per you’re taller than I thought you were”.  He begins bouncing up and down like a teenager… it was priceless!   Marie puts her arm around me and then I asked if I could hold my jersey up for the photo.  Marie says, “I’ll hold it”!     What a sweetheart she is.

Thomas was having some technical issues with his SLR camera, I said to Thomas, “pull out my iPhone…” Per then pipes in, “Yea the iPhone always works”  – he had thumbs up and a big grin on his face.

Then it was all over… Per and Marie left the room and I proceeded out to my seat.

The opening chords of “Dressed For Success” had New York City on their feet!  I was too!  We were on our feet rocking, dancing and singing to every song for almost and hour and a half…. It was one the best concerts I had ever seen.   Per loves every moment he can on stage, and Marie was in fine form.

“Almost Unreal”

Edmonton – Sept 10, 2012.  I arrived at the Hotel McDonald to meet with my Mother and Father whom I had convinced to come with me to see Roxette in Edmonton, as well my friends Kent and Tania drove in from Peace River, Alberta.   We had front row seats for the show at Rexall Place.  The Canadian leg of the tour featured Glass Tiger as an opening act – legends in Canada with many big radio hits at the time Roxette was popping and power ballading the radio air waves in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Rexall Place was packed with close to 10,000 people, by far the largest crowd Roxette had seen to day in North America. Glass Tiger was superb and Roxette came out and raised the roof with “Dressed For Success” and capping it all off with “Joyride” and an extended rocked out version of “The Look.”  Per stated on Facebook Edmonton was pretty close to being as good as NYC.  The crowd loved it.  My parents had lost their voices and loved it.  We returned to our hotel and met in the lounge for a few drinks after the show.   Glass Tiger was also there having some wings and a beer.  Glass Tiger’s lead singer Alan Frew, whom I’d worked with in my earlier radio days, was born in Glasgow, Scotland.  My father is also from Glasgow.  Dad is not shy; he approached Alan at the bar and introduced himself.  It turns out they went to school together in Scotland years ago and knew the same teachers and friends!  Before you know it, we are sitting up at the bar with Glass Tiger chatting and talking about our families and history – anything but Glass Tiger – it was a special moment.  Alan asked me if I enjoyed the show. I told him I had been to New York City and this was my second concert and I was flying to Vancouver the next afternoon to see Glass Tiger and Roxette in Vancouver.  Alan replied, “Really – we gotta get you backstage, we will get you hooked up and look after you, you have to meet Roxette”!

I was stunned.  “Was this really happening again”?  Alan’s manager took my name and said, “Your backstage passes will be waiting at the ticket office”.

What a night…

“Hit the Road Outta Know where, had to jump in my…”

I was waiting to board my plane from Edmonton to Vancouver.  Air Canada flight 243 was scheduled to depart around 1:45 pm.  I called Thomas from my iPhone to chat. During our chat I said, “Bo [Bo Johansson] just walked in and there’s Christoffer [Lundquist] and Clarence [Öfwerman]”.  I have to go!

Roxette was on my flight.

Sure enough the rest of Roxette’s entourage walked into the boarding lounge.   I boarded the plan first. I was seated in first class and the 1 seat on the plane.  And sure enough, Christoffer, Clarence and Magnus [Börjeson] board the aircraft, then came Marie with her husband and daughter, and Per shortly behind them.  Marie was seated to my right a row back while Per sat directly behind me.  Bo, their body guard, boarded just after and saw me sitting in the front, he said, “It’s you again – how are you”?   He reached out to shake me hand, “Good to see you again, Bo”. 

Air Canada flight 243 is now officially The Rox Jet.

I put on my headphones, as I always do, and played my Roxette tunes.  Per sitting right behind me, Marie here – was this really happening?

We landed in Vancouver on time.  I proceeded off the aircraft to the luggage claim area at Vancouver International Airport.  Christoffer, Clarence, Magnus and Pelle [Alsing] were right behind me.   I approached Christoffer and complimented them on an awesome show in Edmonton.  I think they are so used to fans approaching them with the same comments, I will admit it was very much a cliché.   Magnus walks over and asks me if I was from here.  I said, “Yes, Vancouver is home for me but I live in Alberta now”.  Christoffer begins asking me questions about Vancouver and what to do here.  I was suddenly playing tour-guide to my favorite Swedish band.  We chatted for a good 15 minutes.  It was their first time in Vancouver and they now had a bucket list of things to do for a couple of days.  They were very grateful and thankful.  I left them alone and proceeded to my taxi for my hotel.

Did all this really just happen?

A few friends had messaged me and said, “Take pictures”.  I didn’t.  It wasn’t right.  Sure this is Roxette.  They are just people.  Yes I am a fan and ex-media guy, but at this moment, they were just Per, Marie (and family), Christoffer, Magnus, Pelle and Clarence here visiting Vancouver as tourists.  They weren’t on stage; they just wanted to blend in.  I made them feel that way, I hope.  It was a very cool moment – and we all need our space, so do they.   I said to Christopher and Magnus, “I’ll see you guys tomorrow night…”  And off I went.

How Do You Do!  Vancouver!

It was a late Summer in Vancouver – the sun was shining bright today, there was a cool breeze coming in off the Pacific Ocean, and I was waiting in my hotel on the 30th floor of the Sheraton Wall Centre to meet up with friends to head to Roxette at Rogers Arena.  I was thinking today, “I wonder how the guys are – did they go to Stanley Park?  Grouse Mountain?  Walk the Sea wall?   I’ll get to ask them tonight when we’re back stage.

If Roxette were to end a magnificent tour – THIS is the city to do it – Vancouver. 

We arrived early at Rogers Arena to pick up our tickets at will-call courtesy of Roxette’s opening act, Alan Frew of Glass Tiger, and proceeded to our seats.  We ran into Marie F.’s husband and daughter in the lobby, they were enjoying Father and Daughter time and I’m sure excited to see Roxette wrap up the Canadian tour with a bang.  

Roxette hit the stage at 8:45 pm sharp.  When the band came out I was sitting front row in front of Per and Magnus with my jersey.  Magnus walked over to our seats and said “Hey you guys”!   He remembered us from Vancouver airport. 

The Vancouver show wasn’t as good as Edmonton or New York, sad but true.  There were maybe 5000 people there and the crowd just really wasn’t into it.  Or was it just me?   I had travelled 10,000 km by air in 8 days, and had now seen Roxette on both ends of the North American coast.  If I am feeling this exhausted, I could just imaging how the band was feeling. 

Regardless, it was a magical evening, full of lots of sing-alongs and many references to thanking Canada and this was their last date on the Canadian tour.  At the end, Per and Marie seemed reluctant to leave the stage.  After all, after Canada, they only have 3 more dates left on the Neverending Tour, and it’s all over… for now.

“Spending My Time…”

With great friends, company and music – I have waited 20 years to finally see Roxette live.  I isolated myself from the media reviews of these shows, because they really don’t understand what it’s about.  It’s about celebrating Marie is still with us and alive and enjoying herself on-stage again with Per, and the fans.  I have been in New York, Edmonton and Vancouver in 8 days, and it was so great to meet up with so many of YOU that I had only chatted on Facebook feeds, Twitter and here you all are at the shows.  These shows needed no promotion – they did little, if any, the real fans came to the shows, and enjoyed every minute of it.  

The Joyride is over for me – hoping for one more tour in 2014.  I’m left with a lot of great memories, and new friends, and many thank–yous as well.   Per and Marie.  You were gracious hosts in New York City to the 15 of us that met you before the show.  You were great with us all and we’re thankful for taking the time to see us.  Marie Dimberg, thank you as well.   A special shout out to BoJo – Roxette’s longtime security guy.  I’m sure he’s tired of seeing me these last two weeks, I enjoyed chatting with you guys on the flight to Vancouver the other day.  And of course, Thomas Evensson.   How does New York City sound again in the near future?  Thanks for the photos and friendship.   

We’re all Magic Friends.

This article was written for an earlier version of The Daily Roxette.
Technical errors may occur.

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September 13th, 2012

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