Roxette – live at Sunset

ZURICH – There I was standing. With my hands placed on the edge of the stage, lowering my head in order to relax my neck for a moment, asking me what has just happened in the last 100 minutes.
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switz2Marie and Per have just left the stage and there was this short moment in which you are all alone with the mess in your head, before you start communicating with your friends. Then: Looks. Plus a few words of emotional content, because for descriptive content it was far too early. We partly did that a bit later, and I guess, I am trying to do it here, too, in a more extensive way. This concert was so outstanding that I feel it deserves a kind of report which I am actually not able to write, but all I can do is trying to bring it across to all of you as good as I can.

I was a bit scared of this concert. Yes, you read well, scared. When Roxette played at the same festival, Live at Sunset, in 2012, I partly just felt bad, as a diehard Roxer, plus, as an inhabitant of Zurich. I was ashamed by the passive overall audience and I felt sorry for my favorite band. Today I feared the atmosphere could be similar again, which, in turn and in retrospect, makes me questioning my internal mechanisms of expectations and conclusions.

Of course, at the same time, I was also very much looking forward to this concert. A show of your favorite band in the town where you have been living for the vast majority of your life is always something really special, the inner feeling is incomparable to the one you have at any concert in another town or abroad. I somehow, for a change, also enjoyed the amenities of a seated show and the pleasant vibe before the show starts. It was indeed nice not to worry about messy entrances and defending spots for once. That enabled us Roxer-friends to hang out together totally relaxed and carefree. In addition, I was very, I mean really utterly happy for my friend Nicole Joos, an amazingly skilled and talented hobby photographer, who got her first chance to do concert photography, thanks to Thomas from The Daily Roxette, who had organized a press pass for her. Check out her pictures to this report, they are fantastic!

eskoEskobar: So much more than an opening act

Singer Daniel Bellqvist and multi-instrumentalist Frederik Zäll are the Swedish band Eskobar. Together with drummer Jocke Brunnberg they open the shows for Roxette on this European tour. I bought some of their albums already earlier and I like their music a lot. They are great songwriters who know how to combine beautiful melodies with interesting beats and strong lyrics. However, I had never seen them playing live and was really curious about the experience when I first saw them at the Dresden show in June. They made a huge impression on me and I enjoyed their shows immensely. The live arrangements of the played songs are partly quite different to the studio versions, what makes it even more interesting, and yes, these versions work really well in the live setting! Daniel is an excellent singer, who switches apparently easily between chest voice and head voice. Is this guy ever out of tune?? Listening to him is pure pleasure, “wellness for the ears”, as I love to say in such cases. Watching Frederik play the guitar, the piano and the harmonica makes you assume that music must be running through his veins. He seems to be totally connected with it, a natural-born musician. Daniel and Frederik make a great team on stage, it is also noticeable that they are very close not only as business partners but also as friends. They have a different charisma as performers, but a very beautiful one, both, genuine, real and pure, and together they just make a perfectly spiced dish. In the course of the tour, a lot of Roxette-fans have become Eskobar-fans as well, which I think is a wonderful evolution and more than well-deserved! I want to thank Eskobar for their amazing, real, high quality music and for standing on that Roxette stage for us. Having such a fantastic opening act is an enormous enrichment to the entire concert experience and makes a great thing even much better! Knowing that I will see them for the last time for a while tonight, I tried to savor it as much as possible, and somehow, at some point, I just felt, and somehow also decided, that this is going to be a great night.

A seat and its purposes

As a first impulse, you might say, a seat is made for sitting. But if you think about it a bit longer, you might say that it is also possible to use a seat as a storage area for jackets and bags, for example. The latter was the case during tonight’s Roxette concert. I was very positively surprised by my fellow Zurich residents, as they all stood up from their seats from the beginning on. It was beyond belief. They were very active, clapping, moving and singing. They showed their joy and were really involved. So, the people from the audience were the first ones sending shivers down my spine, even before Marie and Per could do it. In the course of the concert, they did not stop to amaze me, but more on this topic later.

switz3Jump ‘til you drop, or, if you are more lucky, ‘til Per reacts to it

Of course we diehard Roxers in the first rows partied as hard as we could, as if there was no tomorrow. Some of us really enjoyed the fact that there was no barrier between the first row seats and the stage, just a space of about three meters. So we could move more freely for a change, it felt so much better. It allowed us to jump even more and higher, and sometimes our stunts even caught Per’s attention, as he repeatedly started to grin or to look at us directly when we went crazy in an all too visible way. We could enjoy a Per who was here for everybody, from the people in the back to us in the very front, his devoted maniacs. Highly energetic and flawless as always, Captain Gessle steered the Rox-boat through the night at full speed and nevertheless under good control, with genuine smiles and a continuously growing repertory of his distinctive moves.

Marie knows it: You’ve got the look!

Standing, or rather, partying right in front of her, I got Marie-struck tonight, several times. We even fooled around a bit, making faces etc. She was outstandingly communicative with the audience, through her facial expressions and her gestures. She gave us a glimpse into her sense of humor again and again, which, obviously, must be vast. Marie totally owned the stage, as she was really present. Her movements looked strong and sincere, and it was absolutely clear that she enjoyed the show fully. Obviously, she just felt good, and so she managed to let us feel even better than we already did, too, when she repeatedly sang “You’ve got the look” to us towards the end of “The Look”. Thank you for the compliment, Marie! Her voice was at a very good level, too, and so she sang her way through “Watercolours in the Rain” with apparent ease, it was a sheer pleasure watching her and listening to her.

switz4It is all about the energy, but, how does it build up, and why, and when?

Of course I have no intention to even try to answer this question, as it is impossible, fortunately. I just find it again and again fascinating whenever it happens at a concert, this special energy flow between artist and audience, which makes everything so light and natural and makes you feel as a unity. I see it as some kind of emotional tower that band and audience build up together during a show. As described above, Zurich got to see Roxette in the best of moods, they both were endlessly charming and animated. And, as we discussed with some Roxer-friends afterwards, it seemed all so real and genuine. There was no doubt that Marie, Per and all band members loved being up there on that stage. At the same time, they had an audience in front of them who was not only very active in general but also managed to surprise with some not commonplace reactions or contributions which worked particularly well, such as the following:

– I, and maybe the band, too, would never ever have expected the audience part of “Crush On You” to work on this event. But it did! And it did particularly well!

– There were constant, loud and clear “Roxette”-shouts already after “She’s Got Nothing On (But the Radio)”

– Obviously Zurich just loved the short snippet of “Paint” in “Watercolours in the Rain”. The audience started clapping and screaming of joy, but quickly decided to become quieter again in order to let Marie sing that part. It was kind of a funny and sweet moment.

– Singing both first verses of “How Do You Do!” in the beginning, without the help of the band, seemed to be an easy task for this crowd.

– Before the encore, we did the “wave” several times, which was just interrupted by some more “Roxette”-shouts.

– Prior to the show, Ivan and I distributed balloons in roughly the first 15 rows. People were eager to participate, so there were really a lot of balloons during “Joyride,” it looked fantastic!

switz8An encore, deluxe edition

During the first tones of “Listen to Your Heart,” we fans in the front row walked the about three meters distance from where the chairs are placed to the very edge of the stage. This happened, again, almost automatically and without big discussions beforehand. Marie was now sitting less than two meters away from me, you can imagine that this fact simply took my breath away. There is something important that I want to point out here: Those who know me a bit better know that I am one of those fans who do have ambivalent feelings about Marie and her situation as well and that I do not suppress them. I would like to stress that in this very moment, observing her from so close, I could see nothing but joy, and yes, concentration on what she is doing, but a pleasant kind of concentration, not a strenuous one. This was of course just my very personal impression, but yes, it made me feel very good. Per and Christoffer were running around the stage during “The Look,” the final song, fooling around as always. They were so close to us that if we had wanted, we could have easily touched their lower legs. But of course decent and respectful people don’t do such kind of things. With the most beautiful smiles on their faces they said goodbye to us, waved once more and then slowly walked away. It was a crazy moment indeed which left me standing there, with my hands placed on the edge of the stage, lowering my head in order to relax my neck for a moment, asking me what has just happened in the last 100 minutes.

Last words of a tired and happy reporter

Prior to this concert, I was prepared to write and somehow expected to write a report about a rather mixed overall experience, a report which would have been written in quite differentiated words, sounding rather ambivalent. It has turned out completely different. Now, my challenge has been to find some appropriate words to try to describe the magic of the best musical event of my life. This joyride is full of surprises. Let’s savor every moment of it.

Photos by Nicole Joos.

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July 12th, 2015

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