Marie joins Per and band on stage in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM (Updated) – There were screams, wolf whistles,  shouts of "Marie!,"  cheers, hoots, hollers, and just about every other loud sound of jubiliation you could possibly imagine when Per Gessle invited Marie Fredriksson to join him on stage this evening.  And yet, if one paused for a moment to look at the people around them, it was rather easy to spot people with tears in their eyes.  It was, by all accounts, an extremely emotional moment…  and many in attendance at the Melkweg Arena felt they were witnessing pop music history being made.

Despite the publicity put out by Night of Proms that it will be on their stage that Roxette will reunite — and as The Daily Roxette was first to report with authority — it was here tonight before a crowd comprised of adoring fans that that reunion actually occured, and somehow that seemed especially fitting.  Marie, wearing jeans and a black blouse and vest, walked onto the stage with confidence, raised her arms in the air, and acknowledged the cheering crowd. After giving Per a hug, she said "Wow!," obviously pleased with the reception she was receiving. Per went to a microphone and joked "Don't forget to bring your cameras," as a virtual sea of cameras had popped up into view. Then, in the moment of silence just before Marie was about to sing, someone near the front of the audience — a male voice —  shouted "Thank you God!"

Marie sang lead vocals on "It Must Have Been Love" (view mobile phone video posted by Expressen) and "The Look" (view video from same source) which surprised many fans who were expecting her to take over for Per and sing "Wish I Could Fly." There are links to better quality videos in the comments below.

Update: Just prior to the concert, TDR was in touch with long-time reader "Kachina" (Sheba Argarwal-Jans). Knowing that this would be her first Roxette-related concert, we invited her to write a review, or provide us with her impressions.  We're delighted with her report, and hope you'll find it interesting as well.  We've also added photos shot exclusively for The Daily Roxette by staff photographer Colin van der Bel.  Click here for a special TDR slideshow with more than 50 pictures of the concert!

TDR Review
Written by Sheba Agarwal-Jans
Photos by Colin van der Bel

When we arrived at 7:15 pm at the Melkweg, Amsterdam, there were already about fifty people waiting at the doors. Almost immediately, the line extended behind us. When the doors finally opened just after 7:30pm, there was a bit of a scuffle in the front which prompted the bouncer to scold us loudly “Niet duwen! (Don’t push!)." “Die hard fans," the lady in front of me remarked, "you’d think that we are going to see the latest boy band. Have you brought your bra to throw onto the stage?”

The Melkweg turned out to be a small, intimate venue with a sizable stage and the kind of place where you get a good view from wherever you stand. The atmosphere was sizzling with excitement as fans — young and old — poured in. After a good hour and a half (and an interesting performance by opening act Martinique) and as “The hills are alive with the sound of music…” played inexplicably through the speakers, the members of the band walked onstage and took their positions. I recognized the final arrival with a sharp thrill, it was Per! To see him on stage for the first time after listening to his voice for almost 20 years was the culmination of all my girlhood dreams and a definite high point of my life. But the best was yet to come.

What makes a good concert? Personally, I don’t care about special effects, polished performance or perfect pitch. To me, the energy, enthusiasm and spontaneity of the band is a key factor in arousing the crowd. Well, Per definitely knows how to rock the house. He loves what he does, he delivers with passion, and you just know that his music is his life. We all believed him when he sang “Listen to your heart, when she’s calling for you…” He made each of his songs his own with his beautiful gravelly voice. And he has an amazing sense of humor! He mentioned that the last time they played in Amsterdam was in 1989, in the Paradiso. “Do you remember that night?” he asked us, “because I don’t.”

The members of his band were just as exhilarating, the chemistry impeccable. I admit to having been a bit snobbish when it came to Helena; I found her to be a substitute for Marie, which I wasn’t ready to accept. But seeing her on stage made me realize what Per likes about her. She was a perfect doll in her gold dress and brunette curls, an enthusiastic marionette who smiled all the time, with the voice of an angel. Christofer on lead made his guitar weep several times during the evening, with electrifying results. Per introduced Christer and Clarence in the red glitter fez as remnants from the Roxette era, as well as the new addition, Magnus.

The first highlight of the evening came when Per introduced the next song as a dedication to “the best singer I’ve ever known, Marie Fredriksson”, and lauched into an absolutely gorgeous version of “Wish I Could Fly.” At some point during the song, someone tapped me on the shoulder and gestured for me to look up behind me. I was stunned to see that Marie was here, seated high up in the bleachers. I could just make her features out in the dim light. A pair of arms were protectively on her shoulders, which I’m sure were Micke’s. After a few songs, she disappeared again, like an apparition out of a crazed fan’s (my) dream.

Of course the best part of the evening, one that some of us were half-expecting and hoping for, was in the first encore. After polishing off two songs, Per announced, almost offhandedly, “I’d like you all to welcome an old friend of mine: Marie Fredriksson!” When Marie appeared, the place simply exploded! I don’t think I’ve ever been to a concert where the audience cheered so loudly. It was a massive ovation for an incredibly strong lady who has overcome so much and was standing, looking beautiful, in front of us. It was an incredibly emotional moment for everyone — band members, audience — and I had tears in my eyes. But the real moment of truth came when she sang, with Per, their trademark song “It Must Have Been Love.” I have never heard a song rendered so tenderly. It was a symbol of their faith, and a testament to Roxette’s long standing devotion to their music. Marie looked weathered, but not broken. It was as if she was defying fate and daring life, saying “You tried to beat me, but here I am again. Here I am! I’m still here and I’m still loved!” After singing “The Look”, another Roxette classic, they walked off stage, and from my perspective I couldn’t help noticing how Micke came out and took Marie in his arms.

At this point, naturally the crowd wanted more. The hall reverberated with “Roxette!! Roxette!!” until the band came back onstage. Per declared “We can’t stop!!”, and who wanted him to? Certainly not me. The final song was a surprise, one of my personal favorites — a definite dark horse — but oh so beautiful. “Queen of Rain” was of course sung by Marie, but last night Per gave it a life of its own. He sang it almost solo, and my heart came close to bursting. When the last notes ebbed away, we stood there holding our breaths, until Per said “Thank you Amsterdam,” and we exhaled and clapped until our hands were sore.

I stumbled out of the Melkweg, arms and legs aching with dancing all evening, throat hoarse with cheering and singing (ok, screaming), and heart crying with happiness. I remembered again why, as a teenager, I had spent hours late into the night, listening to my Joyride cassette, singing along with Marie “things will never be the same, can you hear me call your name?” I was suddenly that teenager again, and I understood how Roxette’s music saved me. Per, I didn’t get a chance to meet you last night, but, I wanted to say earnestly: Thank you, thank you for the music.

I’m still riding on the high, I’ve brought my Roxette CDs to work with me, and my brain is still ringing with “I’m living in a box but I’m out when opportunity nox…”

This article was written for an earlier version of The Daily Roxette.
Technical errors may occur.

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May 6th, 2009

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