Is this actually the best tour Per Gessle has ever done?
Per can fill stadiums and parks if he wants to. But entertaining just a few hundred people in a small cinema, this is yet another level of performance. Let’s have a look.
So, yes, there have been reports about this tour already. You know the setlist by now, it should really surprise me if there will be changes there. You basically know the concept of this tour. Or maybe you don’t, so let me summarize what happens.
We’re in Halmstad, you know, THE town for everyone in the Roxette sphere. It’s where Per grew up and made music with Marie. GT was born here. If you stroll through Halmstad, you are surrounded by Per’s lyrics and stories. Halmstad’s theatre is just around the corner of the Picasso statue, for instance. It’s already the second show here, and someone told me that Per had invited some of his Ferrari pals tonight to sit in the audience and see what he actually does for a living. The audience in general is older than what you see at the summer tours. You would not expect them to have red balloons in their backpacks, blow them up during the concert and then push them onto the stage. Here come the people who paid for their ticket and now they want to have a good time watching the events developing on the stage. The venue was constructed in 1954 and although Wikipedia claims that the house was refurbished in 2010 and 2012, it kept it’s “ancient” atmosphere. You’re entering the house through a small foyer, walk up some stairs, then comes a long hall with cloakrooms on both sides, you spend some time in the café before the wooden doors open and you may enter the big hall, an auditorium with rows of red comfortable seats, lights on the ceiling they don’t make today anymore and again a lot of wood. Yes, it’s cozy, before you ask.
The stage resembles motives from Per’s latest album “Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig”, you see a barn door in the background, old wooden barrels and boxes equipped with light bulbs and all sorts of decorations. Per’s wife Åsa who worked as the stage designer this time has really done a good job here. It’s messy but at the same time structured and funnily enough, it also feels a bit like Christmas is not so far away anymore. Yet I can imagine it takes a lot of time every afternoon to arrange all these many small details in the same way again and again. The light setup was done very thoughtfully, there is some brighter warm light between the songs in front of a background in cool colours. It’s the way modern blockbuster movies are coloured to please the eye. During the songs, the mood changes from a Joyride-ish green with orange to a dark red or a cool lilac setup that makes the light bulbs and old floor lamps on the stage stick out nicely. Also, like in the good old times, white beams are pointed at the person on stage that acts at the moment, and when it’s over, the light goes off. To say it all in one line: What you see feels more like a theatre stage than a music concert. And that’s very, very unique in a good way.
The cast: Per sits in the middle, and this time he keeps sitting most of the time. There is no posing with fancy guitars, no jumping. On his right side (audience’ left) is Christoffer fully dressed in white but without shoes, on the opposite side you see Helena, behind her Magnus and next to him Clarence. Right, there are no drums and no second guitar player. Per plays an acoustic guitar most of the time, then he swaps it for a ukulele.
The plot: We’re taking a drive through Per’s life. He sits there in a very relaxed way and tells stories and small anecdotes from his life. And he has a lot to tell. We learn about the good and bad points of Christoffer’s AGM studio (which are extremely similar to what you can find in a lengthy interview TDR held with Chris a few years ago), we look back at the beginning of his career with the boys from GT, how everything began with Marie, the funny encounter with Tom Petty at the hotel window and some other things you should hear yourself. I’m not sure but maybe in this show, Per talks more than he sings. No, he doesn’t but he should. This man has been in the business for longer than most of us are alive, and he really nows stuff that we’d like to hear, too. And whenever a story ends, he plays a song to it, also in this very relaxed manner. You can hear songs from Roxette, Gyllene Tider and his solo work in new arrangements and you will find that uptempo songs like “Födelsedag” don’t need to be played by a huge band with a lot of electric toys to sound good. You get the essence of Per’s work here, unfiltered and raw. Not raw like a demo but stripped down to it’s core and then performed with heart.
It’s rare to have a pop superstar telling you background stories in front of such a small audience. When you came here to learn more about his music and his life, this is your place. I think this is the most personal show Per has ever done and if you should have the chance to attend, do it. Seriously. With him, there sit more than 40 years of music history on this stage. I do hope that at some point there will be cameras recording this show so that more people have the chance to listen (well, the chances might be high). I do hope this concept can be adapted to English and then be carried out to the world (or at least Europe). Yes, maybe the audience in Berlin, Madrid or London will never have heard of “Sommartider” and you will not experience this chilling feeling when everybody stands up and sings along. But wouldn’t you agree that more people should get the chance to learn that Per is much more than the “fake guitarist in a 80’s band”. This show is for those who are interested in music, the stories behind it and want to learn while being really well entertained.
To answer the question that still stands on top of this article: Yes, this might be the best show Per has ever done.
Here are some photos of the show, more will pop up on our Facebook site some of the next days.