Friday 22 February 2019

pop

john meagher

the o2, dublin

Swedish pop survivors Roxette have proved to be durable in more ways than one. Their high-gloss brand of Europop continues to shift significant amounts globally -- although not necessarily in this part of the world -- but, much more significantly, the band have remained a going concern despite Marie Fredriksson's brush with death 10 years ago.

In 2002, the singer was diagnosed with a brain tumour and the prognosis was bleak. Her illness has impaired her mobility -- she has a noticeable limp and she has to be helped off stage -- but her enthusiasm doesn't appear to have been dampened one iota and her passion for what she does seems to be mirrored in the crowd.

Tonight, the band's first Irish show in 18 years is an exercise in nostalgia as Fredriksson and long-term bandmate, the youthful-looking Per Gessle, deliver faithful renditions of evergreen numbers as 'It Must Have Been Love' and 'How Do You Do'.

Despite such exercises in guilty pleasure, large chunks of the show are listless. There are several occasions in which you would be forgiven for imaging you had happened upon a Eurovision performance from a spirited but not very good Scandinavian outfit.

And the new material is hit-and-miss. There's an undeniable naffness to several of the newbies, which flit from anthemic belters to the sort of schmaltzy power ballads that were last in vogue in 1987.

Despite this, these Swedes are not short of charm and there's a lovely crowd-pleasing moment when one of the lively backing musicians performs a spirited version of 'Dirty Old Town' on his electric guitar, before Fredriksson and Gessle launch into a pulsating, giddy rendition of 'Joyride'.

While the body of the show has been up and down, there's no filler in the brief encore. Fredriksson wears her heart on her sleeve for a powerful rendition of 'Listen To Your Heart', which the mainly-female audience sing back word perfect. And, at the end, even professional curmudgeons are off their seats and stamping their feet to a suitably rambunctious 'The Look'.

The pop may have been cheesy, but there's no faulting the band's sincerity and with some 800,000 tickets sold for their European tour to date, there are clearly a lot of people out there who can't get enough of big choruses and even bigger sentiments.

Irish Independent

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