TDR: The Durban Report!
DURBAN - What a night! Certainly one to remember and one to note in the Roxette history books as a celebration of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle's 30 year career as Roxette.
Like many millions of fans, I too got stung by the Roxette bug as a child, growing up with their biggest hits and growing older and making a life for myself with their music as my soundtrack. My very first experience of seeing the band was as a 13 year old in 1994 in the acclaimed Crash! Boom! Live! Ellispark concert (we all so badly want on DVD – Per take note!!!). My next concert was in the front row way back in 2011 at Sun City, and hey, Åsa even snapped me back then and I was thrilled to end up on the Rox-Facebook page. My third opportunity was a sad miss when they returned in 2012, but I vowed I wouldn’t miss them when the XXX-tour was announced.
The opportunity came to see them in Durban. With my tickets bought in August it was a long wait. Tonight it finally arrived. So what made this show different than the other two? For starters, it wasn’t a so-called comeback tour as many dubbed the Neverending Tour, nor was it a show-off as a band in its prime with CBB. Tonight was the proper celebration of their aptly named XXX tour. As a fan I knew they celebrated the thirty years since introducing us to “Neverending Love” (which I first got to hear in 1995 only!). I missed it tonight, but it was expected that people probably thought “The Look” was their debut single.
The night kicked off with very organized security, very polite and jolly fans, an 8pm 30min performance by local band Watershed, then a short pause before the 9:10 start of the show of my life.
It kicked off with “Sleeping In My Car.” Sure, we didn’t have the backdrop Europe had, but it wasn’t missed really. The lights and curtain backdrop was more than sufficient. It was excellent. It added to the ambiance in a positive way. Needless to say, the crowd roared when “Sleeping In My Car” became “The Big L.” “Stars” was excellent and sounded like the Travelling version, but the crowd was slightly quieter than before, although still dancing. It was a seated concert like Joburg, but the big difference here was everybody was allowed to GET UP!!!! And boy did that change the vibe.
A nice surprise was the cross dressing joke by Magnus. Apparently he and Per dressed up as Agnetha and Frida of ABBA and formed their own tribute-lipsyncing band which lasted 15 years… Of course we all know “Crush On You” followed. Strangely enough, it had way more reaction from the crowd than “Stars”! Was it because of the lights? The drums? Or perhaps the slight pause before Marie burst into song with each chorus…
The show took a calmer direction with the some jewels performed from Look Sharp!, Joyride and Tourism. Marie and Dea’s duet was mesmerizing. Most of the crowd took their seats during these songs but the applause was still the same. It was clear they loved Marie’s tender performance. You would have been surprised at how many people knew “Paint”!
The first notes of “Fading Like a Flower” had the audience back on their feet. But the song that stole the show was “How Do You Do!”. We were teased with the intro before Per finally sang “I see you comb your hair…” This flashback from 1992 changed the course of the evening for the better. The crowd sang every word! Would you believe they knew the lyrics better than both “Joyride” and “It Must Have Been Love”!!!?? The latter followed and the crowd cheered when Per mentioned that the old Xmas tune ended up in Hollywood. Marie handed the mic to the crowd and boy oh boy did they deliver. Roxette clearly loved that!
“Dressed For Success” and “Dangerous” continued the party. Nobody was sitting anymore. Once the band were introduced, Christoffer played the well known South African classic “Suikerbossie,” which turned into “Joyride.” There were some balloons released by fans it seems. The circus-themed lighting was a fabulous throwback to its album cover, and a lot of folk even whistled!!!
Roxette then left the stage, and as per usual, Marie was escorted off the stage. There were several “We want more’s” echoing across the ICC Arena and it wasn’t long until Marie’s escorted reappearance made the crowd go wild with anticipation. Obviously they haven’t played their other 2 #1 hits yet. It was the right choice to leave them till last because we’d been overwhelmed by an abundance of hits from their phenomenal back catalog. After all, Per did say that they’ll be playing their hits.
“Listen To Your Heart” hit the right chords with many fans. Cellphone lights and lighters were showing appreciation of this classic tune. Strangely enough, it was like looking at the 1989 music video in that historic Swedish castle (without the hair and the ramp Marie belted those high notes from). Sure the song was in a lower key but she hit those notes with such emotion I could have sworn it was Marie from the ’90s!!! The professor ended the song with an interesting guitar solo which became “The Look.” Once the crowd recognized the chords they knew that they were in for one last treat. There was no inclusion of that silly/catchy Beatles song this time round (rightly so!!!); this was replaced by the neverending na na na’s of Marie and the crowd. Per and the band embraced the love from the crowd and sparkled in the affection they received. After all, it was clear after Marie replied to a fan’s declaration of love with “I love you too” that Roxette must have known they had delivered a fabulous show. Marie even sang “you are awesome” and “you are the best” as “The Look” winded down. Then when the last chords rang Per promised they’d see us again soon and told everybody to take care of one another.
And that was it. It was over at 10:45 and in an orderly fashion everyone left on a high. The security was fabulous, the event organized brilliantly, the show the highlight of my life as a Roxette fan. The songs sounded like the were straight from the albums. The production superb. The only real special effects were the groovy colorful words from “How Do You Do!” that showed on the screens which was very reminiscent of the “Opportunity Nox” video. That didn’t matter. Roxette delivered and etched another wonderful memory into the hearts of a nearly sold out venue. The bottom line: Roxette rocked Durban.
Sleeping in My Car
The Big L.
Spending My Time
Crash! Boom! Bang!
Crush on You
She’s Got Nothing On (But the Radio)
The Heart Shaped Sea
Watercolours in the Rain/Paint
Fading Like a Flower
How Do You Do!
It Must Have Been Love
Dressed for Success
Dangerous (followed by band intro)
Joyride (followed by Suikerbossie: local song)
Listen to Your Heart