Last week I got to see a band that I have always enjoyed listening to live in concert. Now you’re probably asking who I’m referring to right? Well it’s the Swedish band Roxette, which is made up of Marie Fredrikkson and Per Gessle. I traveled to Sun City in the North West Province to see them light up the Sun City Superbowl. I was given the opportunity (one of three journalists) to interview Per ahead of the Friday concert, which was too much fun. It’s awesome to chat to someone of his calibre, his experience and his success. I must admit I was a bit bummed that Marie wasn’t able to make the interview and yet you can judge me for this, but I actually wasn’t aware of the fact that she had been so ill in the early half of last decade. After being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2002, the star underwent surgery to remove the tumor, which was malignant. After that was successfully removed, she underwent month of chemotherapy and radiation and as Per told us, many of her close friends and family weren’t sure she would survive the ordeal.
“I think all of us thought it was the end of Marie actually. She had like a 5%chance of surviving. She had two big operations and she was on all this medication. She was swollen as a result. It has taken her many many years to recover from that. What has taken the most time is to get her confidence back. To be that person people want to see and that she can deliver what they expect. It’s a sort of a miracle that we can do this. If you’d asked me this five years ago I would’ve said no.”
Per said it was also really important not to push Marie. After announcing that she was in remission in 2005, she kept a very low profile until 2009 when Per invited her on stage in Amsterdam to perform a couple of Roxette songs. She did that and according to Gessle, the audience erupted into completely and utter praise for Marie. She’d come so far and the response to her being back on stage was so resoundingly positive, she asked Per if they could start work on a new album. That they did and as Per said, it was on their watch. He said it was important for him and the record label to make sure things were done in a way that would cater to Marie’s needs and at her pace. It’s believed that her love for music and for performing became therapeutic for her and this therapy lead to the announcement of a world tour. This also included South Africa and would mark their first visit to the country since 1995. Now get this, the first two shows (one in CT and one in Jozi) sold out so quickly, it resulted in organisers adding further dates to the tour. From two shows, the final number ended on 7… all of which were sold out. INSANE, but awesome too.
In the interview we also discussed the fact that Roxette happens to be one of the most loved bands, whose songs still appeal to fans, both young and old, black and white etc. So what makes their music so timeless? So appealing? I asked Per that and he said that ever since he started writing songs as a young boy, he’s focused on two things. Creating a good melody and writing lyrics that not only he likes, but fans can relate to. So if anyone has ever wanted to be a singer songwriter, perhaps you should bear that in mind. I mean think about it, a lot of what you hear on the radio nowadays is cool. It’s fun to listen to, it’s great to sing along to, but will it be around in a few years time? Will you still sing that song in five years? Will you still remember the artist who sang the original? Well with Roxette the proof is in the pudding. Look at a list of some of their top songs:
– It must have been love
– How do you do
Those are just a few, but when I listen to them now, I think about a certain period of my life and each one of them will bring back a good memory. Speaking of memories, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. While Marie doesn’t move around as much as she used to on stage (understandably so), I think to be on that stage after several other performances in the months leading up to my concert is incredible. She still sounds great and for everything that she has been through, she looks fantastic too. Check out this little clip I filmed on my Blackberry:
You can see how the crowd still absolutely love and adore the band. Big up to them for coming back and rocking out at Sun City and Cape Town. Big up to Big Concerts and Jacaranda 94.2 for bringing them down and thank you to everyone who made my stay at The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City a good one. Barring my jacket going missing, the room, the hospitality, the breakfast (oh that delicious Palace breakfast) was awesome. Great weekend! If you want to see my video interview you can check it out here for now. I’ll be uploading to Youtube soon.