Rox tour: Anatomy of the Opener

With the brand new Roxette World Tour announced, I thought it was the right time to get into the spirit of this exciting time of year – sort of like anticipating what Santa might bring you for Christmas, so I decided to get in touch with my “inner-Rox-nerd”. 

As we fast approach the launch in October, the tour has already drawn much speculation amongst the fans. From the band line up to ticket queuing systems to “please come to my country” and everything in between, but for myself, it’s the set list that has always has been a source of fascination. In particular; the Opening Song!

I’ve always been intrigued as to how Roxette settle on the 20 or so songs they will perform live. Not just the songs they choose, but the actual order too. Per has previously explained that it takes a month or two before the band reaches a rhythm and the show develops a nice flow and it appears that getting the “flow” right can be a tricky process.

On the last tour, even as late as mid-2012, we saw “Spending My Time” moved from being one of the final songs to the fourth track replacing “Wish I Could Fly’s” position. It is to be expected that the middle parts will switch and swap – but what has traditionally remained unchanged is the opening song.

So, what do we all think will be the song that launches the Roxette 2014/15 World Tour? Let’s have a quick look back at the songs that have had the special honour of being the opening number in their previous tours.

– I Call Your Name (1987)
– Dressed for Success (1988)
– Dance Away (1988/89)
– Hotblooded (1991/92)
– Sleeping in my Car (1994/95)
– Crush on You (2001)
– Dressed for Success (2011/12)

There are many ways you can look at the role of the opening track.

On one hand, it’s one of the most crucial songs because it sets the tone for the following two hours. Most argue you need something popular, something instantly recognizable because let’s face it, 80-90 % of the crowd attending these shows will be your “casual” Roxette fans; the people who downloaded “It Must Have Been Love” from iTunes and those who bought “Joyride” on cassette back in the day. So to cater to that bulk of the crowd, it makes sense to launch with a familiar song such as “Dressed for Success”.

However, cast your minds back to Roxette’s first major global jaunt in 1991. The “Join The Joyride World Tour” kicked off with a non-single in “Hotblooded”. So, does a band really need to start with a “hit single”? Perhaps not. “Crush on You” is continually referenced as one of the best live moments of the 2001 “Room Service Tour”, and that song (heartbreakingly for God knows what crazy reason) was never released as a single – but as an opener to the tour, it more than did the trick!

Regardless, single or no-single, history suggests that the opening track must have balls! It’s usually up-tempo, rocking and it’s a song that grabs you by the throat and gets the adrenaline pumping!

But, on the other hand, Marie Fredriksson’s recent solo tour proved that you don’t need banging drums and crashing guitars to kick off a show. In fact, Marie so brilliantly went in the complete opposite direction with a tender and stripped down performance of “Så stilla så långsamt” – such a unique and different interpretation to the traditional role of the “opening song” but it worked tremendously. Could Roxette do the same with “What’s She Like?”, “The Rain” or “Crash! Boom! Bang!” as an opener? Doubtful, but crazier things have happened.

Then there are those that argue that the “opening song” is in fact the most irrelevant of them all! By the time the first song launches, certain punters are still trickling in with hot dogs and Cokes in their hands as they annoyingly shuffle past trying to find their seat. By the time they plonk themselves down and settle in, half of the song is over. For us true believers, we spend the first minute or two screaming and waving and jumping as we try to absorb the aura of seeing our favourite band in front of us and by the time we’ve composed ourselves, you’re doing the final “clapping” sequence to “Dressed for Success” and before you realise it, the song is over.

So is the opener just a “warm up” before the band and crowd settles into a groove? Does this mean that Roxette could use an up-tempo “not-as-popular” track such as “Touched by the Hand of God” as the opening song? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Lastly, there’s this final option – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Why couldn’t they use “Dressed for Success” again? Yes, Per also used it as his opener on the 2009 “Party Crasher Tour”, but if it works, then it works. There’s nothing to say that “Dressed” can’t become their signature opening track for tours to come?

So – what do you all think? What’s your ideal opening song? What would you tell Roxette if they read this? Or is the opening song just fluff til the real show begins? Let’s share your thoughts, opinions, arguments, commentary and suggestions.

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

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May 29th, 2014

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