BIRMINGHAM - After roaming around inside the LG Arena for a short while before the show, I sensed that there were a great deal of nostalgic 40-somethings attending tonight's concert. The last time Roxette played this city, they would have been in their early twenties. Now they're more likely here with their reluctant teenage children (I speak from experience - my induction to the music scene was to see '70s disco kings, the Bee Gees with my parents. Cool?! Absolutely!). Knowing how that experience opened my eyes to the world of live music, I could only hope that Roxette had the same effect on some of the younger members of the audience tonight.
But I digress...
First things first - the pictures. I must have been the only photographer in the press pit swaying my hips and singing along to "Dressed for Success", "Sleeping in My Car" and "The Big L.". Not the easiest songs to keep still, calm and composed during, that's for sure! Per and Marie look energized, vibrant even - ready to give it their all.
As I joined my friends up in the seated area to the left of the stage, Per joked about forgetting lyrics and singing along anyway. I'm not going to lie - they did forget a few, but the crowd didn't seem to flinch. Truth be told, only the stalwart fans really noticed. Marie's voice was purer than ever during "Perfect Day". The crowd looked on in awe as she delivered one of the vocal highlights of the evening.
Although a little conservative at first, the audience warmed as the show went on, standing up and cheering before joining in for mega hits "Spending My Time", "It Must Have Been Love" and "Listen to your Heart". Children were standing on their seats in order to get a better view of what was happening on stage - something you rarely get away with these days, but for some reason the security was extremely relaxed about it and left everyone alone to enjoy the show (and enjoy it they really did!). Noticeable crowd favorites were "How Do You Do!/Dangerous" and "7Twenty7" - not to mention "The Look" and "Crash! Boom! Bang!". Omissions from the set list were "Wish I Could Fly" and "It's Possible". I was however thrilled to hear another incendiary rendition of "Stars" - an absolute gem live! Something you can really notice when you're not in the front row (ahem!) and looking on from afar is the sheer chemistry between the band members on that stage - but then after 118 shows together what else could you expect? Per and Marie's immense bond is clear when they sing in perfect harmony during "Things Will Never Be The Same" - a song that only gets better with each performance.
There is a great sense of mischief when Per introduces Magnus and his "Blue Swedish Sex Machine" - I'm sure we're missing out on an inside joke there! Before "Joyride" Chris roused the crowd with a Brian May style rendition of "God Save The Queen". Today - Birmingham. Tomorrow - Buckingham Palace.
Before I knew it, the band were taking their final bow and waving goodbye. The arena was filled with the sound of clapping, stamping feet, cheering and whistling. You only have to read the positive reviews of the show to see just how much this band are admired here in the UK. And rightly so. Let's hope it's not another 18 years before they return... and everything!