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Done without selfie stick: Kirsten Ohlwein

A week has gone since my last Roxette show (ever?) in Vienna. I tend to think it was my last Roxette show ever, but I am always open for a pleasant surprise, of course. Why I do think that this is it? The final countdown, the last tour ever? Yes, just because of Marie’s condition. I know very well that she is a warrior, the greatest warrior I know. Maybe, but maybe, just maybe, all of this is too much to fight for. I don’t know. I posted a very long text about her and my perception of her condition in another article (there’s an English translation at the bottom of the text). I don’t want to go in too much detail here now. It’s only part of my thoughts and I already have put them in words, so I try to move on from it. But yes, it felt a bit like a farewell to a long long dream for me.

So, my last show was in Vienna, Wednesday, July 8th, 2015. Unfortunately, the tour stress had totally exhausted me which forced me to leave my place in the third row during “Spending my time” already and got me to a spot on the side of the stage. Suddenly I couldn’t handle all the people around me anymore, it was too loud, too crowded, just too much. I had wished for a better ending to this whole touring experience as I have never done it this extensively (10 shows in 14 days). It wasn’t meant to be and so I stood at the very far end of the stage, held a mug with water in one hand and my jacket in the other and watched Marie trying to deliver her notes.

I joined the tour with the start of the German leg of the European part of the tour. Roxette had been on tour already six weeks. The first European show in Milan I had attended, yes, but after that, as said, six weeks break. So, I came to see the concert in Cologne and joined all the travelling until Vienna.

What’s left to say? It was a very intense, very confusing, very life-changing experience. Apart from the concerts I realized that I am actually really too old to queue the whole day in front of the venue in 36°C, even though we could mostly sit in the shadow. My body doesn’t want to be in the heat for several hours, then get tense when it’s close to inlet and then run for a minute and then relax, just to tense again when it realizes that air is practically not existing inside the venue. At least my body doesn’t want that several times a week and that’s probably what it showed me in Vienna.

I realized that I am also too old to stand in front of hotels and airports and waiting for the right moment to ask for a photo. This moment never comes. Every fan is so dependent on the mood of her star, so was I. Fortunately, with Roxette, I adore a band who always took their time and mostly never have a bad mood or when they don’t show it their fans, at least there was only one occasion I witnessed it.

I also realized that I might be too old to adore people who don’t even know me. I started to ask myself what I actually expect when I meet them? I wrote in my other post that it’s the feeling of breathing the same air for some moments. This might be it. I don’t know. I know it’s different when it comes to Marie. Since her illness all I ever wanted was to show her my support in every situation possible. There were many times when she gave back so much, thanked for our support or even begged for more. Moments I can hardly forget or ignore. It stopped this year. For me and for her. She doesn’t notice or doesn’t want to notice her fans anymore and it’s finally time to step back for me. Concerts: Yes. Anything else: No.

So, yes, I’d do it all over again, travel miles and miles and never stop, I would, but my reasons have drastically changed. Still, there is this “have to support Marie” thing, it’s very strong, it can’t be abandoned easily. Then there is the other reason that got stronger and stronger during my journey: Meet other Roxers, laugh together, wait together, sing together, enjoy time together. I am so happy that I met so many nice people, maybe this was the most important thing for me during this trip. I finally remembered why they all are so special, even those who I thought wouldn’t speak a word with me anymore. I really really loved that. In the end we’re on this ship together and when it’s time to wave the white flag, whenever that is, we have to do it together somehow anyway.

I am trying to point out some of my personal highlights of the ten shows I saw now:

The best Roxette show I ever saw was the one in Berlin. This was another topic I wrote something about it, unfortunately it’s in German only so far, sorry for that. This was a magical night, moments that can’t and won’t be forgotten. The audience maybe wasn’t the loudest, but the most empathic. It took over when Marie forgot the lyrics and from that moment on everything could happen and it did. I am happy I was there. I could feel the love floating around from the stage to the audience and back. It was the one perfect night.

The best local song Christoffer played was probably “An der Nordseeküste” in Hamburg. It worked surprisingly well regarding the fact that this isn’t a German song in origin. The audience sang even louder than the people in Cologne who got their very own anthem “Viva Colonia”. For Non-Germans: “Viva Colonia” is T-H-E song in Cologne and even in parts of Germany. So I really wondered why it didn’t work THAT good this time. The funniest moment was most certainly Christoffer’s attempt to play Helene Fischer’s “Atemlos” which was probably the most played German song in 2014 and 2015 (just guessing).

I loved that Per shared our “bring us some water or ice” photo from Stuttgart. We had so much fun that day and it made us smile despite the heat. Unfortunately, we never got the ice or the water (just kidding, of course).  Being a Roxer for 24 years you very well realize how special it is to communicate with your star in such a direct way. You post a photo, you know for sure that he sees it and when he shares or likes you are in heaven for some hours. Yes, that’s how it works. Praise the internet!

I also won’t forget the very messed up inlets in many many German cities, almost all of them. Gates that get less and less, although people are already queuing, scanners not working, security staff who don’t know how to mark a ticket, entrances that get closed completely ten minutes before the doors open, security staff telling you you are not allowed to sit down, because it’s too dangerous, others not telling you where you have to run – it was a mess, really. After three shows we joked about founding a consulting agency for security companies. They know so little, they do want to know so little – it can make you really angry. Worst are those who keep the guitar picks for themselves, by the way.

But let’s get back to the positive things. One of them: The amazing setlist Per Gessle put up. What a trick to end the show with “The Look”. What a great idea to bring “How do you do” back as standalone song again. People always have loved “How do you do” so much and it worked so very well at every single show I have been to. This was most often THE party crasher and people were not to stop from that point on. Yes, the audience expects the hits, the great number ones and the singles – it’s true and I can live with it, but after my last show I joked that I really don’t want to hear “Joyride” again so soon and that I am actually happy that I could keep myself busy with the balloons rather than singing. It’s a pity, of course, that I never applauded the band during the band presentation because I was so busy with getting the balloons ready. I still love the balloon thing very much.

We also had a talk about the stuff the fans do during the show and another fan had a very new thought: That we fans are part of the show as well. We do the balloon thing, we clap in moments non-fans don’t know (you know which songs I mean, Dangerous (attracted to go-go deeper tonight), The Look (head drum)), we try to sing “How do you do” on our own after the first riff and get the rest of the audience to join (it never worked until today, of course). Yes, there might be something to it. I had so much fun with all of this!

The general audiences really surprised me, though. I cannot count the times I heard people singing “The Look” while leaving the venue. One sang the verse, others joined in with the “Na na na na nas”. They were full of love for the band and didn’t hesitate to show. This felt much different during the last tour in 2011 and even more different during the Room Service tour 2001. Which brings me to my next point: This band loves to play, loves to be on stage, to play live, to improvise a bit, to make music together. You can see it every second they are on stage, even on their tired days. And this transports so much that people can’t help but join in. It might be compassion, farewell or memories bringing them to the shows, but they leave with different feelings: admiration for the band, the love for music and the will to definitely buy a new Roxette album. This band is so rocky. I heard that on the radio one morning: Roxette came as a pop-rock band to the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, but left as a rock-pop band. What a compliment for a band that earned so many bad reviews for their bubblegum music back in the 90’s!

So, what’s left after my last show in Vienna?

There’s a lot of good memories, some bad memories, decisions I made, a heart that’s still full of love for these people who accompany me for 24 years, a wish for another tour at least in North America so that I finally have a reason to go to New York (and I already have made appointments there with fellow Roxers, I didn’t forget that, Basia, Mareike and Mariana), and a deep deep longing which stands over it all that certain conditions get better again, the deep hope that something or someone can stop what we unfortunately witnessed this year and really don’t want to see and to see happen at all. The one topic we never talk about much. And then there’s the will to go on tour like this forever and that time just stands still, please.