Ullevi 9 years later – Gyllene rocks it again
GOTHENBURG – The new Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg proved to be yet another milestone for GT this year. Although ‘only’ 42,223 people attended the concert this time and GT did not break their own attendance record from 2004 when no less than 58,977 enthusiastic fans gathered together to re-live the golden times, the atmosphere was most surely just as incendiary last night as it was 9 years ago. Fans started to queue from the previous evening, bringing blankets and mattresses with them for a more comfortable night spent outside the stadium. Luckily it was perfect weather for a concert, 24 degrees C and mostly sunny, even though during the night it was a bit cooler.
When this reporter reached Ullevi in the afternoon of the concert date, quite a small crowd had gathered outside the field entrance. We received a queue number written in blue marker on the back of our hands. For numbers 1 to 62 the long waiting was really worth it since they were allowed to enter the stadium at 2:30pm. From what we could hear from outside the venue, they got to see the sound check and even do a bit of karaoke with the golden boys. It must have been a hell of an experience! Unfortunately for the rest of the fans queuing since the early afternoon things did not go as well. We were told that our 2nd group would be allowed in as well, then our entrance time got postponed to about 5pm, but we did not really get in until after the official time, 5:30pm. To add to the irritation, after passing through the first 2 security control gates, we were held at the last gate for about 10 minutes until the security volunteers got their instructions. By that time the queue numbers did not matter anymore since people had flown in from the sides before our own gate was opened and there were also some code bar reading devices not working, which also added more to the delay. The ‘no running’ policy was indeed saluted, but since a couple of hundred people had already gotten in before us, it did not help us secure the very good spots we had been hoping and waiting for. A bit of advice to the security team would be to keep the ‘no running’ policy in place, but also to be more careful with the entrance allowance for the numbered queuing people and the info they are given regarding their expected entrance time. In case an early admission will indeed be granted, this should be made clear to whom exactly and at what time, so that all feels fair.
After two more hours of waiting inside the venue, it was time for the opening act. Linnéa Henriksson was a very colorful appearance. Together with the 4 musicians accompanying her, she did her best to get the audience going and she did have a few fans in the front rows who cheered, clapped their hands and sang along for most of the songs, although her music is quite different from GT’s style.
In between the two acts the last preparations for the GT show were made. The crew surely know their duties and the tasks are carried out swiftly but carefully. Setting the microphones, checking the instruments and the cameras placed on them, adjusting the sound levels and making sure the lights are properly working, sticking the set lists with black duct tape for the band to see, everything has to run smoothly. There was no GT curtain this time, probably due to the huge size of the stadium. It’s always a treat watching the crew, especially Micke N-S almost silently rocking the guitars and getting a bit on his toes to test the mics. When he finally comes up on stage with his phone for the traditional panorama photo of the crowd and the venue, you know for sure that the show is bound to start any minute.
When the clock struck 9pm the crowd was cheering loud for GT to come on stage but they were fashionably late. It was well 10 past 9 when the sound of “Knallpulver” could be heard and the funny animated intro film started rolling on the large screens. After that the 5 boys simply entered the stage in the deafening cheers of the crowd, kicking off the concert with the perfect opener, “Det blir aldrig som man tänkt sej.” Hit after hit followed, ‘mostly old, some new’ as Per well put it. “Vera” got replaced with “Man blir yr” which was not the best move if you ask me, but it made sense with the latter being the 1st single released this year. Everyone enjoyed the show immensely. The boys were in top shape and seemed to be glued together. I think it’s a safe bet to say that they could play as well even when suddenly woken up in the middle of the night and put together in a room with their eyes closed. Their facial expressions made it perfectly clear that they were relishing the concert as much as we were. I saw Anders’ face changing from utter disbelief to the sudden revelation that what was happening in front of him was for real and up to his full enjoyment and appreciation. Per was smiling and singing at the same time, jumping like a bunny in between the verses and the choruses, covering the stage from left to right, then back again, sweating through no less than 3 shirts judging by the yellow, red and white GT-shield logos sewn on the left arm of his black shirt, his hair dancing up and down with every movement of his banging head. MP was the fierce rocker, clearly enjoying the loud audience to the max and dueling with Per and Anders. Elegant DJ Fritzon with a tie was bouncing all the time behind his beloved Farfisas, easily keeping up with the rockers at the front of the stage, even stealing their spotlight a few times. Micke Syd, although half-hidden behind his drum kit, was really on fire all throughout the show and got his own moment right in front of the public during “Min tjej och jag” which made him look so touched.
Apart from the great live performance, the show also had quite a big visual impact. The backdrop was a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors, working mostly like a visual karaoke machine which was fun. Towards the end of the concert when the audience got really loud and crazy, the same backdrop became like a huge canvas depicting the fans singing along and clapping their hands to the music and to actually see that the whole stadium was really ‘n sync gave you goose bumps all over. Tremendous energy, both on stage and in front of it!
The audience was tuned in from the very first notes and seemed to cover all age ranges, from the older GT nostalgics to their own children now also GT fans. The GT bug must be running in the family. The more up-tempo songs totally rocked the stadium and everybody was jumping, clapping hands, singing and cheering. From where I was standing Per’s voice got obliterated by the fans’ around me most of the time. Could his voice have been set louder or was the crowd too loud? All I can compare this GT craziness to is probably the Rox hysteria in South America. “Sommartider” was by far the most awaited song of the evening with Ullevi literally cooking, but our boys had an even bigger trump up their sleeves for the final song. “När alla vännerna gått hem” was already making the crowd long for their next GT concert when suddenly Marie appeared on stage in the middle of the song. “Sommartider” was nothing compared to the public’s reaction when she walked to the center of the stage to sing the last part of the last song. Deafening cheers all around and all cameras were raised up high in the air, a perfect ending to a great concert! When the boys took their bow shortly afterwards and the fireworks began, it felt almost cruel for them to leave us in that state of excitement. I’m sure they could have kept on singing the whole night long.
Luckily the tour is far from being over. Malmö stadium is up next tonight with perfect sunny weather as well. It surely isn’t as big as Ullevi, but I do hope that the boys are still revved up after last night’s magic. For all the Rox fans out there waiting for the next world tour, it’s really worth catching GT live in their homeland if you can make it all the way up to Sweden. Quality live rock music guaranteed and who knows where Marie will pop up next…
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July 13th, 2013
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TDR:Exclusive, TDR:Gyllene Tider, TDR:Live, vintage.