Roxette (Sweden)

Per Gessel, Roxette (Rod Laver Arena, 18th February 2012)

Per Gessel, Roxette (Rod Laver Arena, 18th February 2012)

If you had a hit – any hit – in the early 90s chances are that in 2012 you’ll have either just completed, are in the middle of, or a frantically planning an Australian tour.

Swedish duo Per Gessle and Marie Fredrikkson however could never be labelled one hit wonders. As the euro-pop machine Roxette, they have enjoyed more #1 singles, and more top 10 singles in the US than ABBA.Still, their star has dimmed significantly, and as an unabashed fan of their 1988 album Look Sharp!, and having seen them on their 1991 Joyride tour at the same venue supporting the album of the same name, nostalgia was definitely not a thing of the past.

8:50pm sees the duo take to the Rod Laver Arena stage and get straight to the point, opening with Dressed For Success, a Top 10 Australian hit in 1989. Two other familiar tunes followed, 1994′s Sleeping In My Car (the first single released as Roxette’s mainstream appeal started to slide), and the Joyride offering The Big L.

Perhaps inadvertently, The Big L seemingly stands for The Big Lull. What follows are three more recent – and most definitely unfamiliar – songs, which sit the 30-something crowd back down and lack the impact of the first few hits.

A couple of album tracks from 1991′s album Joyride do their best, but it is the 1989 offering from the Pretty Woman soundtrack – It Must Have Been Love – that gets the 9,000 strong singalong back on course again.

Finding the balance between old and new is always going to be tough when your greatest successes came some 20 years ago, but Roxette – save for a few dubious setlist choices – aren’t too far off the mark tonight.

After recovering from a serious brain tumour in 2002 that saw her learning to walk, write and sing again, Fredrikkson is proppy on her feet, and has a more limited range than when at her peak. However she’s well supported by the ageless and energetic Gessle. Both seem genuinely happy to be back for the first time since 1995′s Crash! Boom! Bang! tour, and the latter prowls the stage, guitar in hand, armed with some highly dubious dance moves.

The back to back offering of How Do You Do flows into the night’s highlight – Dangerous. An indulgent guitar solo version of Waltzing Matilda is a surprise intro to Joyride, and it sees beachballs released into the crowd to a great reception ahead of the obligatory break. Roxette leave the stage with a few little pieces of gold still in their pocket.

It’s a Joyride-heavy set, a couple of slower tunes from the album (Watercolours In The Rain and Spending My Time) signal their return, before the opening riff of their biggest hit of all – Australian 1989 #1 The Look – gets the crowd again to their feet.

Another short breather, before the night is brought to a sing-along close with the largess of back-to-back ‘heart’ ballads Listen To Your Heart and Church of Your Heart. Though ending on the former would probably have been a better choice.

The first night in Melbourne is a success for the Stockholm pairing of Marie and Per, and they were dressed for it.

 

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