The return bigger than expected
HALMSTAD - More than 17,000 in Sundsvall, almost 30,000 in Skanderborg, up to 20,000 in Marknadsplatsen in Halmstad, Sweden on Saturday and then sold out in Norway and is already stocked in Russia. Roxette's comeback has exceeded all expectations. Even for a pop visionary like Per Gessle.
- Yes, indeed. We were not prepared for it to be so big. When Anderstorp came up, we were happy if we could sell 7000 tickets, says Gessle.
- So had we known this we would have rehearsed more and had a larger production. I mean, before the last Roxette tour, "Room Service" in 2001 we rented the Globe Arena for a week.
- Because all arena concerts are so hugely choreographed, and it has to be given the lighting and camera angles. If we haven't practiced enough it's easy to run into each other. And it was a bit like that at the premiere…
We're sitting in the garden at home in the house in Sandhamn where the Gessle family has spent the entire summer.
Åsa offers freshly baked sponge cake when Per has poured the coffee.
- The advantage of living in two places is that it becomes a feast every time you come home to Halmstad. The calmness. The old friends … Yes, all this stuff, explains Per, pointing out towards the Laholm bay.
September 13, 1994 on the Crash!Boom!Bang! tour - that's how long ago it's been since Roxette last played in Halmstad. Almost 16 years ago.
- That's why it will be fantastic to do it again. I just talked with Marie and she's on fire about it, says Per.
That Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson are standing on a stage together at all again as Roxette is a minor miracle, given the brain tumor that Marie suffered eight years ago.
- Yes, one should know that five percent will survive the disease that Marie had, and she had the good fortune to belong to the five percent. Ít's in that perspective you have to put the comeback and the concerts. It is not the old '80s Roxette, but what Marie's doing is an achievement.
- Sure, everything takes longer now and her health goes in waves, but it is the reality we live in. And therefore, these concerts are more of a test to decide on how much she can handle before a regular tour. For instance, we are not doing any press before the concerts.
- So if it will continue is up to Marie. But as I see it this is good for her - it is probably the best rehab she can get.
- I mean, the reception we received has been incredible. One has become teary-eyed when one has met the response.
Also the sound has changed, more guitars and less sequencers and based on Per's band from the last solo tour, "Party Crasher".
- Yes, but it's because we want it this way, more alive. In the old Roxette I also had no real musical role, more than singing because it was Jonas (Isacsson), who played all the guitars on the albums.
The two opening concerts have received mainly lukewarm reviews. In addition, Gessle picked up two solo songs in the middle of the set.
- But it was due to Marie needing a break. Previously, she has done at most 25 minutes, this is an hour and 40 minutes. But we have changed it now, shortened it slightly.
What have you learned from the two opening concerts?
- That there is a significant difference between small and big venues and then it's only hits. Playing a lot of album tracks that we might like, but do not connect with the audience is not good as concerts are about communicating.
- It's from the audience's response that we get energy. I am extremely proud to have written these tunes that have become big all over the world. Why should I not play them? This is just snobbish.
To the Roxette concert on Saturday fans from Brazil and Argentina as well as Europe are on their way.
But the concert has thus far been overshadowed by the ticket row between Live Nation and BiljettNu when the concert in Anderstorp was canceled and another was arranged in Halmstad.
If you had had the concert in Halmstad, without letting the audience from Anderstorp in, this situation had never occurred…?
- It's never been an option. We looked at the 10,000 who bought a ticket to our concert there and we did not want them to first miss the concert and then be forced to sue to get their money back.
So what do you say to all that now stands there with the "wrong" ticket, that is, those that are purchased at BiljettNu after 9 July?
- I really hope that it will solve itself because it is terrible when third parties are affected.
Why weren't there two gigs at Brottet instead of Marknadsplatsen?
- First it was our intention to move the concert from Brottet to Örjans vall. But there was a holiday season there, they said. And because many of the crew were booked elsewhere, we could not break it in two days and then we chose Marknadsplatsen. But it's also a bit cool because it is so central, a little Central Park-feeling… Gessle laughs.
When the mini-tour is over, work continues on the new album. Six songs are completed and a further eleven are to be recorded to be released spring 2011.
- It's a pretty classic Roxette album where the "father" to the sound, Clarence Öfwerman is still here, explains Per and plays some tracks.
And yes - it sounds like Roxette.
- I have, believe it or not, actually changed the way I write songs in recent years. It has become looser, less complicated. So I have gone back to the old demos from the '80s - and '90s and borrow parts from there.
- Then I've tried to get both me and Marie in the songs. On "Room Service", it was either me or her that sang. Here it is more together, like "Dangerous". Or "Dressed for Success".
Four U.S. number ones, nearly 14 big hits and 50 singles. ABBA, The Beatles and now Queen has done it - become musicals. Can you imagine Roxette the musical?
- I can well imagine a Roxette musical if the story and the idea feel good. For although I am not a musical man, you have to find new ways.
- And "Mamma Mia" was an ingenious way to let the ABBA catalog live on. The new generation thinks that ABBA is called Mamma Mia… he laughs.
Roxette, Gyllene Tider, Son of a Plumber, Per Gessle solo in Swedish or English. What is left?
- I've actually never gone on tour where I have done both Swedish and English songs from all projects, a greatest hits. But I guess I'll do that when I turn 60
By Jan-Owe Wikström/Hallandsposten. Used with kind permission.
Technical errors may occur.
August 21st, 2010
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