Expectations vs reality – Gessle on tour A.D. 2017

So now we know. Nearly a month ago we were predicting what could be performed live by Mr Gessle, we summed up our Roxette Blog’s 10-part poll quest for the ultimate setlist and now we are more informed than ever before. Per and his en-vcker-kväll-band performed 4 concerts already – one intimate (in-your-living-room style) and three that gathered around 8-9,000 people each. What is worth highlighting and cannot be considered as a joke anymore, there has been several situations when the rain stopped, when Per went on stage. Ingen sommar utan Gessle after all and good weather can be considered as something guaranteed during this tour or you get your money back. Please reach Live Nation for more info.

The next stop on the 22-date tour is Dalhalla, the 13th of July, so it’s the right time to use this break as a moment for some thoughts regarding the concert itself. I won’t comment much on the technical or visual sides as I haven’t been able to attend any of these gigs yet, so I will only concentrate on the current setlist.

So what really has been played on the 23-song concert so far?

1. Min plats – En vacker natt 2017
2. På promenad genom stan – Mazarin 2003
3. Vilket håll du än går – Mazarin 2003
4. Juni, juli, augusti – 1996
5. Det hjärta som brinner – Moderna tider 1981
6. Segla på ett moln / Första pris – En vacker natt 2017
7. Tittar på dej när du dansar – En vacker natt 2017
8. It Must Have Been Love – 1990
9. Honung & guld – Puls 1982
10. Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång)  – Mazarin 2003 / Flickan i en Cole Porter-sång – Puls 1982
11. Kung av sand – 1995
12. Ljudet av ett annat hjärta – Moderna tider 1981
13. Spegelboll – Mazarin 2003
14. Gå & fiska! – 1996
Band presentation
15. The Look (with different songs as an intro) – Look sharp 1988

16. Varmt igen – Mazarin 2003
17. Tycker om när du tar på mej – Mazarin 2003
18. Dressed for Success – Look sharp 1988
19. Joyride – 1991

Encore 2:
20. Sommartider – Puls 1982
21. Småstadsprat – En vacker natt 2017

Starting with the latest album En vacker natt, it’s the first time in a decade (!), when we hear more than 3 new songs off the album Per Gessle was involved in. More than 3 means 4 exactly (17% of concert), but this is a positive suprise anyway, considering that Roxette Blog readers picked these 4 in their voting prior to the tour. Only “Far too close”, which is another fans’ favourite, didn’t find its place on the setlist, which can be seen as disappoitment knowing there would be English songs as well. Obviously, if you are to attend any of the festival’s concert, you might hear just two EVN tracks, which is suprising considering two singles off the album are these being cut out. Personally I would expect to remove less known songs from the previous releases… Some fans expected to hear at least a song off the forthcoming “En vacker dag”, but that didn’t happen. Yet.

As a quick reminder for all you history-thirsty readers, Roxette did just 3 songs off Charm school (later squeezed into She’s got nothing on only), so did Gyllene Tider with “Dags att tänka på refrängen” during their 2013 bonanza. Roxette number doesn’t suprise, considering Marie’s problems with remembering new lyrics. Still the Man himself on the Party Crasher 2009 just picked two tracks off his disco-cd, i.e. The Party Pleaser and Doesn’t make sense, excluding Silly Really, which then was said to be impossible to perform live. So basically the last time Per was risking (?) more than now was En händing man times, where 7 tracks off then-newly released album were played. I wasn’t much suprised with the lack of 2007 songs now (I expressed that view in the prediction article), still omitting the release which was a success to some extent in Sweden, doesn’t look like a very good idea. “Jag skulle vilja…” wouldn’t do a harm to anyone I belive. 24 songs on the setlist neither.

For obvious reasons – Mazarin is super-important now as it was 14 years ago when it was released for the first time. 6 songs this time (26%), all radio singles with “Varmt igen” sang live for the first time ever (at least in Per’s version), wow and triple exclamation mark from me to the band!!! That’s definitely a highlight – looking at RXB’s voting – only “Om du bara vill” is missed during the concert from the top of the most voted Mazarin songs, which can be easily amended. Hey, Födelsedag is a cool rocky option as well. Considering Mazarin was released on the vinyl for the first time just a moment ago, I hope there might be some additional suprises awaiting us.

Is there anything solo left? No English, which cannot come as a big suprise, still in 2010 there were few situations when Per performed “Stupid” and “Do you wanna be my baby?” for Swedish picnic audience during a short break for Marie during Roxette concerts. Well, this time we should be happy with just a brief moment of “Segla på ett moln” (4%) sang by Helena as an introduction to “Första pris” – funny enough the song has never made any of the first solo Swedish albums and Per’s version was released in a hard-to-get 80’s box. It’s not “Segla…” you might remember from the 2003 tour though, but I am happy to hear just some sounds of it with this new-old band.

Moving to the most controversal part – at least among those 20 hardcore fans in the front row. There are just (or: as many as) 4 Roxette songs (17% of the setlist) performed. As we all know from the latest interviews, Per called 2016 as the end of Roxette. Initially we thought he only meant touring, but now – after his words and explantions – any new release looks very unlikely.  With that decision being made, he also decided to mix his English songs onto untill-then-only-Swedish-language concerts, which was a big risk in terms of how Per defines a word “risk” himself. Similar decision was made back in 2009, but then we were kind of expecting Roxette’s return and the versions Per provided were really fresh and suprising (I absolutely love Listen to your heart by Per). Fans preferences were pretty clear; people are extremely happy to hear Roxette songs, but it would be better to perform these with Per on the lead or maybe little less-known rockier compositions like She doesn’t live here anymore, Opportunity nox or 7twenty7. This wasn’t a route for Gessle to go – he prefered a very safe as well as appreciated by the wide audicence choice of his biggest Roxette hits, which makes a lot of sense, considering he always has promoted his concerts as “the best of” thing. I also understand him saying that these are his songs and he just wants to have some fun playing them even though Roxette as we know it is no longer there. Some people say “It must have been love” is unecessary addition or “Joyride” is more of a “Yawn-ride” (Kirsten, thanks for the inspiration!), but you must admit it does work well with the majority of people on the concert. It’s also very clear that Per dedicated 80s and 90s to Roxette/Gyllene Tider projects, while 00s to his solo work. Seems legit, right?

Can Per take a different approach to that vast Roxette catalogue? If he would be big enough outisde of Sweden as a solo artist, we would be definitely getting some Party Crasher concerts in the future, but as touring time outside of Scandinavia seems to be over with the Roxette’s end, it was the only right decision left for Per. I would love to have a solo only thing if you ask me, but this is never going to happen (never in the world of Roxers never means never never). Or maybe a small club tour in the autumn? Hey Per, why not to do a solo-solo concert where there is no Roxette, no Gyllene Tider, just you, your guitar and your solo tracks? If you say Roxette songs cannot die with the end of Roxette, why should your solo stuff be doomed for extinction? Just saying it could be an idea for a concert or two…

And then comes Gyllene Tider – just (?) 8 songs, which makes 35% of the concert. It might sound as I’m suprised, but it’s the lowest number (!!) since ever as it goes for solo concerts. Potentially there would be more tracks than that, but Roxette needed to be squeezed into what it’s a very tight setlist. Happy to see “Honung och guld” off 1982 Puls album (did you know it’s Lars Winnerbäck’s favourite?), but why to choose a forgotten pearl off GT’s part of the career, when there is soooo much of solo time songs that could be performed. I don’t have any ready formula yet, but changing one songs from the concert to concert would be a cool suprise – “Arabiska nätter” or “Vill ha ett svar!” performed on just several gigs in 2013 were amazing. Maybe doing that with solo stuff could be a way to make someone smile? After all at this point only differences each concert brings is a short intro to “The Look”, which were bits of “Listen to your heart” or “När vi två blir en” l…

Do I miss any songs? I have similar attitude as Expressen’s Anders Nunstedt wanting to hear unknown songs all the time and hoping these would make people happy. Reality check brings a little bit different news – unknown songs for the most of cases don’t really work with the masses. Reviews for the current tour are for the most of the cases moderately or very positive, which is a good marketing tool for the remaining 18 gigs. Sometimes I wish Per was more of a risk-taker – performing the whole new album and moving to his greatest hits later on. He would make both groups satisfied with that approach – bringing a lot of new material to life live (happy fans and Anders Nunstedt) and singing his greatest hits catalogue for the remaining 99,99% of the audience. It seems like a fair deal, isn’t it?

Oh, and there is one more thing. We don’t know this for sure, but if any of the concerts is to be recorded, people will decide to buy a DVD or watch the TV broadcast only knowning they would hear songs they know and want to hear. And we already know Per is the best marketing chief for his own brands this world has ever seen.