By Michael Traversa
For thirty something like us Roxette represent our childhood, memories from when we were growing up, songs that have become part of our DNA. Knowing that they are still alive as a band and putting out electrifying shows is somewhat comforting.
So it was with great pleasure that my buddy and I decided to descend on the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal City to see them live for the first time.
The show was good with a lot of energy and hits aplenty, although a couple of favorites were not played, and they were missed. It started off with the classic Dressed for success followed by one of the major hits from the 90’s Sleeping in my car. The live rendition was excellent mainly thanks to great additional musicians in the band. Half of the duo Per Gessle was like a kid on stage, time seemed to not have passed for this middle aged rocker, the voice was even better than twenty years ago; he kept jumping left and right from one end of the stage to the other, practically carrying the whole show on his shoulders. Same cannot be said of the other half Marie Fredriksson. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with brain tumor in 2002 and the way to recover is a long and hard one. She appeared contrived on stage, almost robotic, she can still sing but her voice is clearly not what it was back then. At times troubles with hitting both high and low notes were evident and back up vocalist Dea Norberg along with Per masterfully tried to mask it.
In the case of the ballad Crash Boom Bang it was a wise choice to let Per sing the first verse before passing the ball to Marie (this was one of the songs sang entirely by Marie on record). If the start was a little rough it got better throughout the show. The long medley “back to basics two chords” How do you do / Dangerous was probably the highlight of the show: it got everybody on their feet and singing and finally brought down the invisible barrier between those on the stage and the ones below.
The band introduction made space for a Beach Boys impromptu by lead guitarist Christoffer Lundquist which eventually lead into Joyride, another show stopper thanks in part to the fans’ initiative to release balloons in the air – off of a line of the lyrics – balloons that kept floating over the crowd’s heads.
The encore was made of classics, “We can’t really leave you without playing this one” Listen to your heart, followed by breakthrough single The Look. Marie had problems even walking while exiting the stage and she needed to be accompanied out, on the contrary Per was the life of the party, keeping playing the guitar even after dropping the guitar pick. The finale was dedicated to an acoustic version of Church of your heart.
It was a night down memory lane; even when the show wasn’t as good as anticipated it was still a lot of fun. Loud and satisfying, despite the occasional problems.