Roxette in Berlin: ass kicking, fireworks and a kiss

How many people live in Berlin? 3.5 million. Add the masses of tourists to this. So, how high is the chance to bump into fans wearing washed out Roxette t-shirts on the streets and in the shopping malls these days? Amazingly huge. Good thing!
The Spandau citadel is a 500 year old castle a little outside the hot spots of that city, surrounded by water. The only way to get inside leads over a wooden bridge. The evening before, the location had still been crowded with trucks full of camera and light equipment. Would that be for a recording of the Roxette show the next day? Sadly, no. A British crew shot some scenes for the movie Streetdance 2 there. But now, just three hours before the scheduled performance of Roxette, this same bridge was crowded again. 11,000 people fit into the fortress and the show had been sold out for months. Did they mind that heavy rain showers hit the location shortly before the concert? Didn’t seem so.
The Supporting act was Orzak Henry, a Belgian musician once having been praised by David Bowie. He does make interesting music, if you like the kind of music he creates. Which the audience did not. Let’s talk about the audience for a moment. Germans are not exactly known for glowing expressions of happiness. Ever. Berliners are even famous for that. But there is one thing you can rely on when Roxette performs somewhere: fans from abroad. The first rows were filled with people from the Czech Republic, Spain, the Netherlands, and of course the usual German fan force with their well-known faces claimed their right for the best spots up front once more. Will they cheer? Yes they will. Will the other rows join them later? Yes, they will. Later. Almost too late.
It was a couple of minutes before nine this evening when Roxette finally entered the stage. And how they entered it! No need to blind the audience with flickering spot lights or hide the stage in fog. This band simply walks in starts playing like they had played somewhere backstage all day long already. None of the musicians needed a single second to get into their shape, they were here and you could feel it. Per did his show for the photographers, posing as the rocker he surely is deep inside his heart. Marie sang with her truly powerful voice and you could see she likes to be up there again. In the old times, she was famous for running across the stage all the time and it looks like she is getting into her old shape again. Forgotten the times when one had to be anxious for her when she still grabbed the mic stand with her left hand in order to feel safer. These days she walks the stage from left to right and back again, makes fun with Helena and Christoffer and she enjoys the response she gets from the people down there. The people down there enjoy as well. If they only knew how to show that!
What about the other guys in the band?

Well, there is this one man on the very left side who actually deserves his own show. Christoffer Lundquist. If you ever had the chance to pick him up lost once more in a big city (“Well, I grew up on the countryside…“) and chat with him a little while driving him to a concert venue you would know then that Christoffer is the personified modesty and politeness. Now see him on stage. There is a natural born musician going wild. He jumps around, bangs his head, tortures both his guitar and his finger tips. This man is unstoppable, this man definitely kicks ass.
Magnus Börjeson who until recently played the role of the typical bass guitar player, just moving his hips a little and sometimes posing with the other boys, has now turned into an entertainment center. Not only does he smile like never before (and one can surely still see this from the last rows,) no, now he and Christoffer when playing “The Look” bounce up and down like two rubber balls. And he does speak a surprisingly clean German when he quotes JFK’s famous sentence “Ich bin ein Berliner.“ (“I am from Berlin”/”I am a pastry.”)
Helena, background singer, tambourine player and good mood girl is much more than just the supporting vocal artist. It’s her innocent childlike attitude that makes the masses clapping hands together with her. She makes sure you are part of the family. And besides, her voice adds a lot to the songs.
Clarence Öfwerman is a mystery of its own. How can this man play the most difficult music notes and chords on his famous red Nord keyboard with just two fingers while he in the same moment flirts with the cameras and seems to dance around his instrument like it is his wife? This multi-talented musician who always smiles like the positive minded primary school teacher you never had is enjoying to not stand in the limelight too much. He is watching the audience and it looks like he remembers each person in the crowd growing up to the music he produced. This guy is so relaxed. Unbelievable.
And then there is the drummer, Pelle Alsing. Why is he hidden behind all his hi-hats and cymbals? He loves his audience, he has rhythm in the blood, let him show more of his personality on stage! His big moment comes when he cheers up the audience in the beginning of “Way Out” or when he plays the tambourine next to Marie and Per in “Church Of Your Heart.”
And the audience? Woke up a few songs before the end, finally. Although not exactly waving with a lot of lighters, mobile phones or light sticks they now reach their hands up in the air and sing along. Actually, now that would have been the moment when Roxette should start their concert from the beginning again. Now the audience was ready for this lively, straightforward, perfect, fun-having band up there between all the instruments.
One might keep asking for the tracklist? To be honest, it is actually not important which songs were played. If you really need to know them, get bored with songlists somewhere else. Roxette played all their standard hits, they played this marvellous new version of “Silver Blue” and they played “Way Out” in Berlin. And they played them with heart. That’s all that counts.
The evening was concluded by fireworks that made the fans go “aaaah“ and “oooh“. Funnily enough they didn’t play the same named Roxette song to this but the shape of the lights in the sky were very much the same as on the single sleeve. By the way, only few witnessed Per receiving a kiss from his wife backstage at the end of the fireworks show. Looks like it was a good evening. For everyone.

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

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June 12th, 2011

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