Elvefestival: One more time, Europe!
DRAMMEN – Roxers like to call this the Neverending Tour, of course with a twinkle in the eye. For me, besides its fun aspect, the expression also represents a very powerful idea, a mighty thought which, among others, strengthens us in our fan-being, a beautiful scenario filled with love and dedication.
Whatever that term “Neverending Tour” means to every one of us, if anything at all, one thing we know for sure is that there are partial endings, for example last concerts of tour legs, as this one here, in the Norwegian town Drammen. For die hard fans there is always a special vibe attached to such shows, since the feeling of at least reaching the end of a chapter in a book is a constant companion. There are many different ways to look at it and to experience it, but I guess no one of us concert travelers can completely ignore that bittersweet scent in the air of something wonderful that is about to end. Probably these events are not the ones I approach in an entirely and perfectly exuberant and carefree mood, as there is a variety of feelings involved, which usually leads to a slightly more complex and certainly particularly intense experience.
Good morning, and good afternoon, Drammen!
For a part of the dedicated fans, a Roxette event usually starts in the morning hours. The exact daytime when the first few people will show up at the venue is always a bit of a mystery and remains undiscussed. Yes, we could almost see it as a taboo topic. So, basically every one of us just has to follow his own needs and intuition, in the best case paired with doing a bit of situational assessment.
As usual, I belonged to the very early ones who arrived on the concert ground. The time passed quickly as we were catching up and enjoying the pleasant weather. We even had some hilarious moments of fame again when a very kind and entertaining reporter from a local newspaper gave us a variety of tasks and kept us busy for at least an hour. The entrance went quite smoothly, all in all, and we conquered our deserved front row spots.
Waiting for Esko…
… Oh no! Reset. Eskobar, the fantastic Swedish band which was the special guest for Roxette during their European tour until the end of July was not there. This was a festival, there was no such thing as “special guest”, there was simply a number of bands performing in a particular order throughout the day on different stages. Of course we would have loved Eskobar to be one of them, as they were such an immensely important part of the European tour leg for the vast majority of us. Daniel, Frederik and Jocke, you were on our minds. Ineradicably, you have become a part of our world. Thank you, Eskobar!
So, instead of the three Swedish guys a slightly punk-ish / ska-ish rock band from Bergen called Razika, consisting of four feisty, loud girls on vocals, guitar, bass and drums in the foreground and two inconspicuous boys on saxophone and trombone in the background entertained us after about another hour of waiting. They sounded really good and were fun to watch.
“We had a blast, the band is really really tight now, everything works like clockwork, it’s such a pleasure to play together!!!” This part of Per’s update that he posted on Facebook right after the show was totally congruent with one of the predominant impressions I had about the show: This band is a pack, a tight unity on stage. Everybody seems to sense exactly what the other members are going to do in the next second. It is a fascinating, almost magical phenomenon to observe, and to see how much fun they have on stage, playing and interacting with each other, is highly infectious.
There are still some people out there who slightly sardonically laugh about Roxette, based on an opinion built in the early nineties, for whatever reasons, which certainly can vary a bit. I am basically totally fine with that, so all I ever suggest to those fellows is to go to a show and to experience not only the musical skills of all band members and the thick sound of the really awesome, guitar-driven live arrangements of their songs, but also the dazzling energy coming from that stage, overflowing the place. It’s a kind of a raw, beautiful, pervasive force which can only grow and spread to such an extent when a band is playing a 100 % live, when there are no aids such as backing tracks or click tracks. Roxette truly is an outstandingly good live band!
A small place, a small stage and a great crowd
Some external conditions can make a fantastic live band shine even more and become important ingredients or boosters for a hot-boiling concert night. Imagine a pretty cozy festival ground on a square in a city center. Then think of a rather small stage with a very narrow front of stage pit which makes sure that the distance between artists and crowd is kept at an absolute minimum. Plus, to these best preconditions for a high-spirited concert atmosphere, add a crowd of people who just want to have fun on a warm Saturday summer night and are eager to celebrate and to sing at the top of their lungs. There you go! Party-mood guaranteed!
In my previous reports of the Zurich and Stockholm shows I wrote quite a bit about Marie, how I see her as an artist and what aspects of her personality shine through to me and fascinate me so much. I also wrote about Per and why I admire him to an extent which is hard to express in words.
The real magic though, as I see it, happens in the combination of the two. I am well aware that a part of it is reasoned in the historical aspect, even though I am certainly not a particularly nostalgia-oriented Roxer. But still, the connection that I have to both of them as a duo is just too huge and too long-lasting in order to deny that side. Besides this though, it is that sheer mutual complementation of Marie and Per, who seem to be made for each other as artists. The mix and interplay of the two voices, one of them more compelling, the other one a bit more mellow, and yet somehow both in perfect balance to each other, is still unique and unbeaten in that form and amazes me at every single show. And then there is this special energy that I believe to sense between them, a bond which is based on deepest respect, also containing a great sense of humor, expressed in a caring and winking way.
“I saw you in the crowd in the front row…” My top three moments
Writing down a few personal favorite moments of that show, the first thing on my mind are the few seconds when Marie literally sang with me during “Dangerous”, looking directly into my eyes, smiling, miming, gesticulating. Such fun it was, and yes, certainly “a little bit dangerous” for my fan-heart.
“Crush On You” was another highlight, because “Crush On You” is always a highlight. Lame joke aside, for me it is just THE song in the current setlist to go completely crazy. Not that this would not have happened earlier on already, but that tune somehow took it to yet another level. The cherry on the cake was a particularly confident performance of the “crowd’s solo part” in the middle of the song.
During “Listen To Your Heart”, the second to last song of the set, I have always loved watching Per and Christoffer echoing the title line into Chris’ microphone together towards the end of the song, and somehow this time, at this late stage of the concert, all my emotions of joy, love, thankfulness and sadness came together during that part. Which brings me to another end, namely to the end of this humble report…
My friend Basia Konarzewska substantially contributed to this report by providing her great pictures. She took tons of them and I think the result is amazing, even more given the fact that she had to do that from an unfavorable angle and with modest equipment. Thank you so much, Basia!
Thank you Roxette and thank you fellow Roxers for yet another fantastic night, and for a truly unforgettable European Roxette-summer! As we know, the “XXX – The 30th Anniversary Tour” will soon continue and last far into 2016, starting with the already known South African dates. These prospects leave me curious about the upcoming happenings and I sincerely hope that all fans in the world will have the chance to see our favorite band. Everybody who is able to join this Joyride is truly blessed. Let’s get out when Opportunity Nox!