Monday, July 30, 2012

Live Review: Roxette, SECC, Glasgow 3rd July 2012

Finally getting round to publishing this, four weeks after the event!

It's not often that we get the chance to see Swedish acts playing live over here (outwith the trendy club gig circuit which we're probably way too old for by now). So when the "opportunity nox" to see the legendary Roxette return to Glasgow in 2012, 20 years after they last played here, there was never any question about it, we had to be there, especially as we hadn't seen them live last time. But I did wonder how many others would be attracted to see a band which narrow-minded lazy critics brand an "Eighties throwback"? Rather a lot, as it turned was practically a sell-out show.

Support act Mim Grey's breezy, bluesy pop recalls a softer Sheryl Crow or a gutsier Colbie Caillat. She certainly has a strong, warm voice which works well in a live setting and could do very well on Radio 2. The problem is that she maybe lacks enough uniqueness to get noticed. The lyrical content and video of "Mr Big Man" suggests that Ms Grey may at some point have auditioned for a certain TV talent show and got a "no" from a particular judge. However, here she is, supporting the legendary Roxette and playing to an audience of thousands of people. How many talent show contestants can say that? Who's got the last laugh now?

However, as with every big gig, the applause is polite rather than rapturous. That kind of reception is saved for Roxette, who take to the stage at 9.00 pm after a half hour break. Almost every seat in the all-seated Hall 4 is occupied, by an audience of all ages although predominantly 30 and 40-somethings. Despite it being all-seated, everyone spends most or all of the concert on their feet. Unfortunately around the time of the show I was still struggling through a bout of fatigue and couldn't stand up for very long...oh and one more thing, in my next life can I be reincarnated as a tall person and not the vertically challenged 5' 3" little person I am, so that I don't need to stand on tiptoes to see over tall people?

I've previously said that the SECC doesn't lend itself to subtlety when it comes to sound quality, but it works better for a band like Roxette which manages to kick serious rock-butt from beginning to end, ballad breaks notwithstanding of course :)

The band kick off with a high energy opening section - "Dressed For Success"/"Sleeping In My Car"/"The Big L" and throughout the show, they throw in some fan-faves although some of them I'm maybe a little less familiar with. There is a mix of the crowd pleasers - "It Must Have Been Love" positioned very early in the show - the newer songs like "She's Got Nothing On (But The Radio)", and some numbers mid-show which slow down the tempo. Unfortunately that also means this modern phenomenon of people going to concerts and spending vast chunks of it on their phones checking Facebook etc. rather than paying attention to what's going on up on the stage. That's a real major gripe for us, but we seem to be in a minority :( Despite all this though, it has to be said that the Glasgow audience is the warmest, wildest, most receptive audience that an artist or band can play in front of. No wonder they all love playing here.

It is a massive achievement that Marie is able to perform on a live stage at all, given all that she's been through in recent years. That alone makes the show a triumph. She is also in great voice although at times requires the assistance of backing singer Dea Norberg to help her through certain moments. By the way, Ms Norberg herself has an impressive musical CV. She's been backing singer at Melodifestivalen for a number of years and also back-up for Swedish entries at ESC, most recently Charlotte Perrelli (2008) and Malena Ernman (2009) - more info at

The 'wonderful balloons' are set off during "Joyride" much to the delight of the audience. There's lots of wisecracking during the band-introduction segment, with references to Sweden and Stieg Larsson. The wild-man guitarist, Christoffer, made himself the most popular band member (apart from Per and Marie of course) with a solo of "Scotland the Brave" which drove the audience completely bananas. As if they weren't hyper enough already! Of course that guitar-solo is tailor-made to every venue, so I'm guessing there will be a few Hendrix-style renditions of the Star Spangled Banner by the time the tour reaches the USA.

Needless to say they save "Listen To Your Heart" until the end, every lyric sung back to the band from beginning to end. The final song, an acoustic "Church of Your Heart" brings all the band members to the front of the stage for a strangely muted conclusion to an otherwise rockin' evening.

I hope the band enjoyed this show as much as the audience did! We certainly had a great night. The world tour rolls on to a couple of Norwegian festivals in August, then on to Canada, USA and finally to Mexico. Catch them if you can!

Dressed For Success, Sleeping In My Car, The Big L, Spending My Time, Stars, She's Got Nothing On (But The Radio), Perfect Day, Things Will Never Be The Same, It Must Have Been Love, Opportunity Nox, 7Twenty7, Fading Like a Flower, Crash Boom Bang, How Do You Do, Dangerous, band presentation/Scotland The Brave/Joyride, The Look, Listen To Your Heart, Church Of Your Heart.

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