Jan-Owe Wikström did an interview with Per Gessle for Hallandsposten before the PG unplugged tour reaches Halmstad this weekend.
Mr. G says they couldn’t dream of such a tour when the band gathered at his apartment in Stockholm to rehearse for Late Night Concert on TV4 and Guldscenen on Mix Megapol. Then it was mostly to get to meet and play at all when everything was shut down due to the pandemic.
The summer gigs in Tylösand opened new doors. In fact, I haven’t dared to do this before. I mean, standing at Wembley or Ullevi is one thing. Then you can “hide” behind the large production, the volume, the lights… Here it is so naked and stripped down and a much bigger challenge.
It’s more text-based, more my songwriting instead of hit cavalcades from Gyllene Tider and Roxette. And that’s why I’ve never had this kind of response before. The audience really sits and listens and takes in, is attentive. It is intimate and private and sometimes so quiet that I could have heard a plectrum fall to the floor if I had used one. In a large arena, the audience stands and watches a performance, a show. But here the audience is a part of us just as we are a part of the audience. A little campfire feeling, as well.
Regarding the tour Per tells Jan-Owe:
It’s not as happy-go-lucky as it was last summer when I could come up with a song in the afternoon which we then quickly rehearsed and then played in the evening. Now there are a little bigger scenes, a little more structured, real lighting by Robert Kelber and a little more decor by Åsa in the same style without removing the intimacy, the warmth.
There are many new songs added to the setlist. Take for example “Ljudet av ett annat hjärta”. Christoffer (Lundquist) suggested that I play it alone with just an acoustic guitar. But it didn’t work so I suggested that Clarence (Öfwerman) at least plays the special loop on the piano. At the premiere in Linköping, a girl sat at the front and at first didn’t realize that it was that song until the loop came. Then she sat and cried out through the song, out of happiness, because it turned out to be her favourite song. It was a bit difficult to play, while it was great to see how music can really touch.
Jan-Owe tells Per he has probably never seen him so relaxed and comfortable on stage in terms of the talking in between songs.
I have, honestly, never had any real small talk, but here it becomes a natural part of the show. But it’s the same when I’ve been to concerts of Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon… They never tell anything but it’s mostly a lot of clichés. Imagine McCartney had told an anecdote or story about how “Back in the U.S.S.R.” came about! I went to see Bruce Springsteen on Broadway in New York a few years ago. It was him and an acoustic guitar, but the concert was based on his biography. It was magical, but he is probably also one of the few who can do it.
Jan-Owe asks Per how he intends to take this concept further.
There are no direct plans, but it would be fun to do the same with Roxette songs and maybe take it abroad. This tour is more based on my Swedish material because it goes more into the heart here at home.
Regarding the pandemic, being able to come out and play and meet the audience again has of course provided new fuel.
You really notice how hungry people have been and see how happy they are.
From 1st December, covidpass is required to enter the concerts.
That’s super difficult. I see no major difference between being at Gekås, a restaurant or a concert. But the important thing is that everyone must be careful.
The guys are talking about Joyride’s 30th anniversary as well and it turns out that the days off between the concerts are not really free, but booked with interviews for international media.
Talking about future plans, much is already in the pipeline for next year.
Yes, next year is packed – things will happen.
Per says cryptically.
Jan-Owe says that in parallel with the fact that Per, before the acoustic gigs, was in the studio and tested about forty songs acoustically together with Mats “MP” Persson – who now also handles the sound on the tour – of course one or two new songs were written. Per tells that he wrote songs both in Swedish and in English, as usual.
Regarding Gyllene Tider, Per says it’s a nice little pop band… They met, but didn’t talk about this concept.
Jan-Owe asks Per about his touring plans. Mr. G is still low when it comes to plans for major tours abroad.
There is still a pandemic going on so I’m not very keen on travelling right now. The last time was in February 2020 when I was in Miami, but it’s not fun to travel these days, walking around being careful.
This week there were news that Per is being offered to buy Ferrari’s new model, Ferrari SP3 Daytona. One of a total of 599 copies, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the list. Per says he saw that in Hallandsposten, but he himself hasn’t received any confirmation yet.
Admittedly, I received an invitation to the presentation of the car in Maranello in Italy, but I was on tour. Though I still had not gone anyway because it is still pandemic times. Then I knew that if you bought the latest model, Ferrari Monza SP2, you also have priority for the next model.
Jan-Owe tells that maybe it’s high time that Per shows his cars instead of hiding them. Mr. G says he has actually thought about doing it on a beautiful day. Maybe not now, but in a few years, he hopes. Today all cars, most of them Ferrari, are parked and stored in various places in Sweden.
This type of cars has become a form of investment just like art and real estate. The problem is that they have become so expensive that no one dares to drive them anymore. Partly because of sky-high insurance, partly because a few miles on the meter means they can drop in value. But cars are there to be driven. And seen. I mean, think of an old Aston Martin or a Volvo P1800 from the 60’s – they are beauties, pure art. And great fun to drive.