Top 2000: The Untold Stories – Roxette – It Must Have Been Love

You surely remember the Dutch TV program, Top 2000 that interviewed Per Gessle on 19th November 2019 at Baggpipe Studios (the old EMI studio) in Stockholm. In December 2019 they broadcast the story of The Look and they shared it on their YouTube channel in February 2020. Later, in August 2020 they shared an acoustic version of It Must Have Been Love. Per played it the same day they recorded the program and now it turns out there was a story behind IMHBL they recorded as well. It was broadcast on Dutch TV yesterday. You can watch it HERE (if you are in the Netherlands or via VPN).

Per tells the whole idea with Roxette was that they wanted to go international. They had success in Sweden, Marie was a successful solo artist and Per was successful with his Swedih band. Marie’s career was climbing, but Per’s heydays were over. Marie and Per knew each other since the late 70’s and they always wanted to do something together. She had an amazing voice, Per could write songs for her and they shared the ambition. Per wrote different songs for Marie than what she could write herself. There is Soul Deep for instance. She is amazing in that song. She never really wrote material like that. After the success in Sweden with the first Roxette album they were a bit disappointed because they wanted to succeed abroad. So they talked to EMI in Germany and they said they should write a Christmas song, maybe then it’s easier for EMI Germany to get them on the radio. Per went home and wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted).

Per is showing the demo to IMHBL where he is singing. He says it would have been Marie who would be whispering the line they hear (It’s a hard Christmas day, I dream away), to make it more intimate, but they gave it up, it was corny. Per explains this demo was before auto tuning, it’s really out of tune and he laughs. He says it’s a really bad demo actually. They recorded the song and released it in Sweden in 1987 and it became a hit. It was a big song for them, but Germany didn’t release it, EMI Electrola hated it.

Then they forgot about it. Per started writing the Look Sharp! album. They had all the success with it, with The Look and Listen To Your Heart. Then in 1989 they had a lunch with EMI in Los Angeles and they had the rights of a soundtrack to a movie called 3000. It was about a guy who hires a girl for the weekend for 3000 dollars. They said that they have David Bowie on board, Go West and Natalie Cole as well, all those EMI artists. They wanted Roxette to write a song for that movie, but Per said they had no time, they were travelling all around the planet to promote Look Sharp! But Mr. G said they have a Christmas song and he could very easily alter the lyrics to it. He got rid of Christmas day that became winter’s day. They sent it to them and they loved it. The title of the movie became Pretty Woman. Per remembers he was in this studio (the old EMI studio) when Garry Marshall, director of the movie called him to tell that he loves the song so much he had given it a great place in the movie and there is no dialogue over it, because it speaks for itself and it just gives the whole movie a certain character in that particualr scene. Per thanked and put down the phone. The movie became a blockbuster and they were surprised what happened there. IMHBL became this epic song it is today.

Thanx for the hint, Ludo van Denderen! (He also shared a screen recording of the program on his FB.)

Per Gessle at Late Night Concert

Late Night Concert is a collaboration between Live Nation and TV4, which premiered this spring and was recorded at an empty Gröna Lund. The format was born out of the current situation when live music has fallen silent when concerts have been forced to scale down and is based on the idea of spreading live music out into the country and home to the TV couches.

The second season was recorded at Cirkus in Stockholm without an audience and is broadcast on TV4. The program can also be seen on TV4 Play and C More.

Per Gessle’s Late Night Concert day was 16th December. You can watch it HERE (if you live in the EU or can use VPN)! When we are on tour, we expect more and more people to attend the shows and now… we can be happy for concerts where there is literally no one in the audience. How weird this 2020 is. At the same time, we can be grateful that at least this way we can enjoy Mr. G’s performance. Who knows when it will be possible to go on tour again.

Per chose to perform an unplugged set and what a great decision it was! It’s not the first time he plays unplugged. We all remember MTV Unplugged from 1993. It happened at the same place, Cirkus in Stockholm and Mr. G was wearing a similar wild cat shirt. Now there were less instruments and no John Lennon sunglasses.

Helena Josefsson, Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist and Magnus Börjeson joined Per on stage. They played 9 songs (2 Roxette, 1 Gyllene Tider, 6 Per solo).

Setlist

  1. På promenad genom stan
  2. Småstadsprat
  3. Listen To Your Heart
  4. Tycker om när du tar på mej
  5. Ömhet
  6. I din hand
  7. Segla på ett moln
  8. Honung och guld
  9. It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted)

All songs sounded wonderful in this arrangement. I’m a fan of rock concerts and jumping in the crowd, but hey, I want this acoustic set in real life! Not the first time I’m dreaming about an acoustic tour, but now I crave it even more. I mean Per’s vocals were so emotional and Helena was singing beautifully and Clarence, Chris and Magnus were playing so softly, all that absolutely fit the intimate atmosphere. 3 songs put me into tears. Listen To Your Heart… before you tell her goodbye… Gosh… Then Segla på ett moln for whatever reason and then of course, It Must Have Been Love. Oh well, music and its effects. It was amazing to hear songs live from Per’s latest solo album, Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig.

Between Småstadsprat and Listen To Your Heart Per talked about his MTV Unplugged 1993 experience. He said he played Cirkus several times, but he remembers most of all the MTV recording. They were the first non-English or non-American band that was invited to play on the program. He remembers that he was wearing a leopard shirt back then and that’s why he is wearing a leopard shirt now, to celebrate it.

Before playing Ömhet, Mr. G talked about being isolated due to the pandemic and that he thought to record an album based on his old material written in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s. His idea was to play all instruments himself to make it as personal as possible. He tried to breathe new life into those old songs. He thinks it became a pretty cool album.

Before It Must Have Been Love, Per talked about the story of it. He says it’s a super special song. It started out as a Christmas song in 1987 and it was a success in Sweden. The story behind is that their German record label advised them to write a Christmas song so they might get airplay on German radio, because they couldn’t manage it with their debut album, Pearls of Passion. So they recorded IMHBL, presented it to the German, but they didn’t like it. Then in 1990 they were asked to cooperate in the soundtrack of a movie then called 3000. They were travelling around the world with Roxette then and didn’t have time to record a new song. They thought to use IMHBL, just changing Christmas day to winter’s day in the lyrics, recorded a new intro and mixed it differently. The title of the movie was changed to Pretty Woman and became a huge success. IMHBL became Roxette’s probably biggest hit.

The concert was beautifully recorded from great camera angles. I could have lived without the ads in between the songs and it’s always better to see the support acts before the main act comes on stage, but other than that, concentrating solely on the PERformance itself, it was really a fab recording.

Dear Covid-19, don’t you dare ruin our 2021 as well! Besides many other things in a so called normal life, we need tours too!

Thanks a lot to Live Nation and TV4 for bringing Per Gessle into our living rooms and thanks Mr. G & Co. for the beautiful interpretation of these 9 songs. We want more of this! I just had to watch it again right after it ended. And I guess I will give it some more plays. Did I mention it was B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.???

Stills are from the program.

Per Gessle’s opinion about the recordings:

Had a blast recording the Unplugged Late Night Concert at Cirkus in Sthlm. My favourite players and singers around me. Wunderbar.
Missed you guys out there, of course, but that’s the way it is on Mother Earth right now. Hope you liked it too and didn’t find too slow or too cozy. I wanted it to be intimate since we couldn’t interact with any audience.
If you missed it I’m sure you can catch it on TV4 Play. Love to you all! Stay safe + sound! /P.
For those outside the EU, TV4 uploaded Listen To Your Heart to their YouTube.

Per Gessle interview on Canal 13, Argentina

Per Gessle joined Canal 13’s morning show in Argentina via a video call from his office in Stockholm. Longtime fan, Tomas Dente interviewed Mr. G and after complimenting Roxette, Marie and Per, he asked PG how it is possible that even if they are so successful around the world, they could still keep a low profile, not having any scandals, being so down-to-earth, being always so nice and kind to the fans. Per told he thinks it has to do with the fact that they come from a small country and both Marie and he come from a small town and they’ve always been outsiders in the music industry. The music industry was America and the UK at the time, so they always remained humble and felt honoured that the world was interested in what they were doing.

Since the first hit in 1986, Neverending Love, their fans remained as much fans as they were the first day. It happens only to big bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Roxette. Why Per thinks it happens, Tomas asked. Mr. G thinks it’s because their music comes from traditional pop based on the 60’s and 70’s, being melody-oriented and those melodies continue to communicate for a very long time. Also back then, pop music had a more important role in the society than today. Today there are many more options of entertainment.

Tomas always tells every musician he does an interview with that he is a big fan of Roxette. He told 2 anecdotes. One of them is when he interviewed Bryan Adams, Bryan told Tomas he regretted giving the same title (Room Service) to one of his albums as Roxette. The other is about Duran Duran. When he interviewed them, one of the guys told him that he was mailing with Per. Tomas asked if Per has any big musicians who he is keeping contact with, if he is a friend of a big star. Per said not really. He bumps into people here and there. He has a lot of friends in the US and he was at a birthday party last year where he bumped into Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards and the Cheap Trick guys. He remembers he bumped into the guys from Duran Duran. In the old days they met e.g. at TV stations. On a personal basis, he doesn’t really have such friends.

The host asked Per about Diego Maradona, if he heard about his passing away. Per said it was on the news everywhere and there was a 3-hour special in Sweden the day he died. He was a legend. Per is a soccer fan too. He comes from a small town in the West coast of Sweden and they have 2 soccer teams. Per is even sponsoring one of them.

The hosts asked Per if he remembers how he found out Marie passed away, where he was and who let him know. Per says he was at home in Stockholm and it was Marie’s husband who called him. It was a terrible news to get. Marie was ill for 17 years but you can’t be prepared for this news when it’s about someone that close to you. Per lost his family members in the recent years and also Marie. Tomas was curious how he deals with the sadness, if he believes in God. They know that Marie believed in God. Mr. G said he lost his mother, brother and sister and he is the only one left in his family. He said it’s very sad, but he thinks you have to go on with your life. He has his own family now, he has a son, you have to continue your journey. It of course affects you in many ways though. It hits you in your dreams and he is always reminded of Marie, she is still around, when he hears Roxette music for example.

Tomas shared a personal story at the end, that when his mother was dying, he had no job, no money and 2 days before his mom died, he promised he would go very far in his career and one day he would do an interview with Roxette and now his dream came true. The host and Per applauded him, they thanked each other for the interview and Per wished merry Xmas.

Interview with Per Gessle in Nyhetsmorgon on TV4

There was a pre-recorded interview with Per Gessle this morning in Nyhetsmorgon on TV4. While program leader Jenny Alversjö introduced the interview Anders Pihlblad did with Mr. G, there were several Roxette photos shown in the background. Jenny says Marie passed away almost 3 months ago, way too early. She mentions Per was devastated and the day after he gathered his thoughts and finished a song, a comfort song, how he calls it.

 

 

 

In the interview you can hear and see snippets from Per’s new song, Around The Corner (The Comfort Song) and its lyric video.

Per says this song was lying around for a while and he finished it the day after. His mother-in-law also died a couple of days after Marie. It was a really hard time and he finished the song actually for himself. He wanted to get it out of the system. That’s how he works. One needs to get rid of things. He expresses himself through his music and lyrics.

It became a comfort song in a way. Per realized it’s a really strong song when he recorded it with Helena and Mats. He doesn’t mean it’s an especially good song, maybe it is, he doesn’t know, but he saw it touched Helena and Mats deeply. So they thought it should be released. He knows there are a lot of people in the Roxette gang, all the fans, all the friends, the whole world were affected by what happened. Almost all people go through this when they lose someone close to them sometime in life. Everyone needs this comfort. Per’s way to get through this was writing.

 

Anders says there are 2 Roxettes. One before Marie’s illness and the one after it. 2 totally different challenges. He asks Per what he was thinking when Marie got ill, how to go on with his career and if he thought they could go on with Roxette. Per explained he didn’t think they could, because it felt that Marie was in really bad shape, so it wasn’t in the cards to continue with Roxette. The first thing he did after Marie got ill was Mazarin, then Gyllene Tider in 2004, then Son of a Plumber, then En händig man, so all his other stuff. So it was really surprising that Marie wanted to make a comeback. Per thinks even Marie didn’t count on it, that she would come back. She came to visit him in Amsterdam where Per played on his European tour. Anders says he talked to a Dutch girl who was there at the concert and said there was a surprise. Per laughs and says Marie and her husband, Micke came to visit him and he asked Marie if she wanted to come up on stage so they would play an old Roxette song. She hadn’t been on stage for 7 years and she said she doesn’t want to do that. But Per knew she was easy to convince if they give it some more time, so the question remained hanging in the air and in the end Marie said OK, let’s rehearse and see how it feels. One could see she really wanted to do it. So they rehearsed and Marie said let’s try it. For the first extra song Per invited Marie up on stage and there was only Marie and Per on stage. Mr. G thinks they played Listen to Your Heart and maybe It Must Have Been Love too, he can’t remember. Per says the audience died of course and he had never seen so many people crying. It was incredible. It was the first thing Marie did and then a few weeks later she called Per if he could write a new Roxette album. That’s what eventually became Charm School. Then there were 2 big tours, maybe with 300 concerts.

 

Anders asks Per how important he thinks it was for Marie to realize that she managed to do it and that it became such a success. Per thinks it was super important for Marie, because she loved music more than anything else. She loved being on stage and she enormously missed the communication with her fans, with their fans. So she wanted to do it at all costs. Her doctor advised she shouldn’t do that, because touring is exhausting with all the travelling, the waiting, the flying, the time zones and so on. But she wanted to do that. Per told her whatever they do, they do it based on Marie’s conditions. If she wants three days between the gigs, that’s how they will do it. Per thought it was amazing that Marie wanted to do it and that they could go on.

Anders says he saw an interview with Marie that was done by Niklas Strömstedt and there she said Per was a big support to her during that period. He asks Per what he thinks about it. Per smiles, drinks a little water and says he doesn’t know. He hopes so, but it’s hard to answer this question. When someone gets ill, you want to help as much as you can, but it’s always hard to help someone without stepping too much into their private lives. People have families and you don’t know how to behave. This is how he felt about his family too. Sometimes you feel that you go one step too close and they want you to leave them alone. They want to take care of their illness in their own private way. So it’s hard to know. But Per also saw that interview in Niklas’ show and he was of course happy to hear that Marie thought so.

 

Anders says Marie and Per had many common memories from Roxette times. He is curious about the greatest ones that Per will remember forever. Mr. G says there are too many. He thinks it’s kind of a fairy tale what they have been through. The possibilities, the chances, the odds for them to succeed, coming from Sweden those days and in this industry were less than minimal. It’s fantastic, all the success they have achieved. But if he skips all the golden records, chart positions and such things, he remembers those days when they were on stage in front of 50,000 people in Chile, in Sydney or wherever and looked into each other’s eyes. And then Per knows Marie thinks ”how the hell did this happen, Per?” and he thinks the same. You see the rolling ocean of people in front of you and they all love what you are doing. Such things are fantastic. But of course there are many more.

 

Anders realized Roxette has extremely loyal fans. He read what they were writing and asks Per how much of that has reached him. Per says he was of course devastated when Marie passed away, but he was also happy to see the response she got from all around the world. From many other artists, producers, radio people and fans, all the people. There are hundreds of thousands of greetings coming in and it’s awesome that Marie gets that appreciation. Per says they definitely have the best fans in the world. They have always been super loyal and followed them in all times. It’s been a long journey.

And here the interview ends with the flame of the candle going out in the lyric video. All in all it was a very touching interview. One can see it’s still hard to talk about what happened and it needs time to find comfort. Per says they have the best fans in the world. What I must add: and we have chosen the best idols in the world. Undoubtedly.

Stills are from the interview.

An evening for Marie Fredriksson

Gothenburg, Sweden, 20th January 2020. Stora Teatern. I don’t know how many times I was walking past this theatre over the years whenever I was in Gothenburg. Since I’m a fan of theatres, I sometimes checked the schedule outside on the wall to see what plays they have to offer. I never thought that it would be a totally different event when I once sit in the audience in that building. At a concert. A tribute concert. For Marie Fredriksson.

The event was organized by SVT and it was broadcast a few days later on TV. Now you can watch it HERE.

The theatre has the capacity of appr. 600 people in the audience. After the invitations were sent out, 10 days before the date a couple of remaining tickets went on public sale. The event got sold out very fast.

Rehearsals for the concert started 1 week before it happened and day by day we got to know more and more about what to expect and also who to expect to perform. First it was announced that friends and members of Sweden’s artist elite gather to celebrate Marie’s fantastic music act and the event, En kväll för Marie Fredriksson would feature songs from Marie’s and Roxette’s song catalogue under the direction of Christoffer Lundquist. From the performing artists Per Gessle was among the first ones announced and together with him a list of musicians who collaborated with Marie were also mentioned in articles: Clarence Öfwerman, Jonas Isacsson, Anders Herrlin, Micke Syd Andersson, Pelle Alsing, Dea Norberg and Staffan Astner. A few days before 20th January some more names were revealed: Eva Dahlgren, Lasse Lindbom, Linnea Henriksson, Agnes Carlsson, Petra Marklund, Maja Ivarsson, Helena Josefsson, Anne-Lie Rydé, Sanne Salomonsen and Maja Francis.

While already in Gothenburg the day before the event, we met some of the musicians and they all prepared us for the concert being very emotional. They said they are focusing very much on their playing instead of what is on the screen behind them, old pictures and videos in the background, not to lose it. They were all sad and enthusiastic at the same time. You could see it means a lot to them to be there and do this for Marie. Sad and enthusiastic, heartbroken and excited, I could identify with these mixed feelings so well. On one hand, it’s terrible to see these words in one sentence connected to each other: tribute, event, for Marie. It should have never happened, she should have never left us. Not so early! On the other hand, there were all these great artists, fab musicians all of them to perform in memory of a wonderful person we all love so much.

The band was a mix of Marie’s solo band and Roxette’s bands from several periods. When was the last time you could see Jonas Isacsson and Per Gessle on the same stage, for example? Pelle Alsing and Micke Syd on the drums next to each other. Eva Dahlgren singing her friend’s most beloved song, Sparvöga. Lasse Lindbom performing another big ballad of Marie, Ännu doftar kärlek. So many other wonderful artists and details there.

In the audience there were many well-known faces. Just to mention a few, Mats MP Persson, Magnus Börjeson, Sven Lindström, Göran Fritzon, Thomas Johansson, Kjell Andersson, Lars Nordin, Helena von Zweigbergk. And of course many fans who came not only from Sweden, but Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Spain.

SVT wanted the audience to arrive at 18:00 to make sure they pick up their tickets and find their seats in time to be able to start the recording at 19:00. By the time we got in, the stage was ready, the cameras were set. The theatre is beautiful on the inside. The first 2 rows were taken away because of the cameras and stage setting, so the 3rd row was the 1st. Cameras were all around. In the front, on the stage, above us. We could see Marie Dimberg, Åsa and Gabriel Gessle to arrive to their places on the first balcony level. Åsa kindly waved back to the friends and fans who recognized her.

Before the concert started, a guy from SVT came up on stage and gave some information about how the recordings would work. He said it would be a 1.5-hour-long show on TV and they try to record it altogether, but there would be pauses between the songs to set the stage for the next song. He kindly asked us not to clap before the songs, but of course we were welcome to give an applause to all the fantastic artists after they performed. He was nice enough to tell some words in English too, knowing that there were several international fans.

After some directions for the light and sound technicians, as well as the camera men, the guy disappeared and it all started with Kattis Ahlström (Swedish journalist and TV presenter) coming up on stage, talking about Marie and introducing the gala. They recorded 3 takes of this intro. Kattis told that on 9th December 2019 we lost one of our absolute biggest and most beloved stars. Marie had a unique voice recognized not only in Sweden, but also all around the world. For over 40 years she was singing and writing songs that became part of our lives. No one else could write lyrics that could comfort us and give us hope. She could also describe the meaning of life and melancholy. But she could also laugh, dance, party and rock ’n’ roll. Kattis said there would be Marie’s friends, her musicians and some of Sweden’s best artists on stage. She also said there are many friends, colleagues and fans from around the world in the audience and she promised a very special evening.

Then the concert started. With which song? Tro. How the choir, Solid Gospel appeared on stage, Clarence started playing the keyboards and a young girl, Agnes Sarafian started singing, I lost it already at the beginning and burst out into tears with many others in the audience. It was such a touching version and a very strong start into the show.

The next performer was Linnea Henriksson, a Halmstad-born singer-songwriter whom most fans know from 2013 as she was the support act during the Gyllene Tider tour. She is a popular artist in Sweden and Marie was an inspiration to her. Actually, Marie had an impact on so many people’s lives. No matter if you are an artist or not, if you bumped into her or listened to her music, she never let you forget her. Linnea’s version of Efter stormen sounded great and you could hear she was so touched.

Between the songs there were short videos from Marie’s old interviews, performances, also pictures from the past appeared. The reporter in the docu part said it’s fascinating how some artists become more than their music. Marie was one of those artists who were not just recognized, but you could also look up at her. In an old video Marie says truth is important to her. She can’t hide her feelings. We probably didn’t know Marie Fredriksson. She was very private when she was off stage, but when you went to the concerts or listened to her songs it felt like she is a friend. In another old interview she says her heart is beating for the weak in society. When she was a little girl, she already thought back then that one has to help others. One can’t only think of oneself. It’s a natural feeling to her towards people. It has always been. She says she got letters where people wrote they didn’t feel alone anymore, her songs helped them. Marie sang better than most of the singers, but not only that. It never mattered in which genre she was singing, she could fill the melodies and lyrics with real emotions.

Ett hus vid havet, another beloved Marie ballad was next, performed by three ladies, Helena Josefsson, Dea Norberg and Maja Francis. I couldn’t hold my tears back again, thinking of Marie singing it on her solo tour just 6 years ago. When she made us all smile with her måsarna and båtarna and sang ”och göra som jag vill” with a strong emphasis. Unforgettable. The trio did a fab job, their voices fit together perfectly.

There was a short video interview with Petra Marklund next. She told she discovered Marie, an amazing artist when in their music class they got to perform Tro. The song is still so actual. From that day Marie became a big source of inspiration to her. She feels honoured to be here and sing.

After 3 Marie solo songs it was time for a Roxette power ballad, Listen To Your Heart. Thinking of the fact that we will never ever hear it again from our dear Marie… I know, I know… We already knew we wouldn’t hear it live again from her since 2016, but still. Now it is 100% sure and it breaks one’s heart. Petra Marklund was singing it in her own style, not trying to imitate Marie.

A short video docu part was coming again showing old pics and videos from Strul through Marie’s solo career to Roxette. The reporter said Marie loved to sing and perform on stage, but whenever the mic was changed to an interview microphone, she became shy and cautious. Media was never really her thing. On stage she became a supernova again. It was great to hear Miss Effe’s vocal range in this part.

Sparvöga, one of, if not the most important songs to Marie was definitely one of the biggest highlights during the event. Marie’s long-time friend, Eva Dahlgren singing it in her own style was heart-warming and heart-rending at the same time. Eva wrote on her Instagram that she has probably never cried so much backstage as on this gala. She could barely sing and she was holding Marie’s mic stand so tight. Everything is still unreal to her and will remain so.

Roxette came next. Things Will Never Be The Same was performed by Maja Francis. I’ve never heard about this girl before, but from the short video interview before the song it turned out Maja met Marie appr. 10 years ago when she moved to Stockholm. She was a classmate of Marie’s sister’s son and they were hanging out together. When she turned 20, they were out to eat something and she was asked if she could help Marie’s family out. She became a nanny, an assistant to Marie’s family for a year. They became Maja’s extra family and she always looked at Marie as a rock fairy. Marie taught her that one can be soft and tough at the same time. Maja said it’s tough to sing the song she goes up on stage with. She still hasn’t realized that Marie is gone. She is still here and she will be there when Maja is singing the song. She is everywhere. Maja did a special version of the song and Christoffer Lundquist was also singing on TWNBTS and he also sounded wonderful.

To my surprise, there was an interview with Efva Attling, also very close friend to Marie. This interview was not shown in the theatre, but it was done inside the theatre, probably backstage. It’s a nice addition. Kattis and Efva are standing in front of some of Marie’s paintings. Marie was interested in painting and her first exhibition was of charcoal drawings, then she started using colours. One of the drawings is very special to Efva. She was at a sunglasses fair in Paris when Eva Dahlgren (they are a couple) called her and told she bought a drawing at Marie’s exhibition. Title of the drawing is ”Kära Efva” (Dear Efva) and it of course portrays Efva. Efva tells she met Marie in 1981 when she was doing backing vocals for the Lasse Lindbom Band in Stockholm. She wanted to help Marie a little with her hairdo and make-up. They went to the dressing room and Efva took out scissors. Marie’s hairdresser said she shouldn’t show her eyebrows, but Efva liked them, so she cut Marie’s hair. Back then there was no hair mousse, so they used shaving cream and they created a cool hairdo. When they went out in town, she introduced her to everyone saying here is my new friend. She is from Halmstad and she is a fantastic singer. Marie only said Oh my God. Efva says Marie was so much love and she had such a good sense of humour. They laughed a lot, but they were also fighting sometimes, like real friends do. Efva says family was very important to Marie. She knew exactly when Marie fell in love. Once Marie told her she met Mikael Bolyos on a tour. Efva went on tour with Roxette to the US, that was her present when she turned 40. She went to San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Micke came to Los Angeles too and then Efva told Marie she will leave the room for them then. Haha. They went to a restaurant and Micke told Marie she should try the scampi. Marie agreed and then Efva knew she was in love, because she never ate seafood. Marie always said she is so thankful for her family. Efva finishes the interview with Marie’s words, ”Thank God for booze, make-up and hydrogen peroxide.”

Right after this there came a video interview with Anne-Lie Rydé who told she met Marie at Atlantis in Stockholm, a late night in 1982. They met in the ladies’ room and while Anne-Lie was looking into the mirror she heard from behind her Marie asking if she is Anne-Lie Rydé. Anne-Lie said yes, it’s her. And Marie introduced herself. Anne-Lie didn’t know what to say, because she was mad at Marie. She had no clue about who she was, but she had stolen a duet song Anne-Lie would have been making together with Lasse Lindbom. They recorded it, everything was done, but then she heard it on the radio and it was Marie singing. Anne-Lie just thought who the hell is Marie Fredriksson. So their first meeting was wonderful. One could never get angry with Marie. They became friends right then. The strongest musical memory is when they were on the Badrock tour in 1988, sitting on a little beach in Borgholm and Roxette was soon to release their next album. They hadn’t break through yet internationally, but they were huge in Sweden. Marie wanted to show Anne-Lie their new single and Anne-Lie thought it was such a good song. It was Dressed For Success. She said it feels good to perform this song here tonight with another fantastic woman on stage.

So the next one was Dressed For Success, performed by Anne-Lie Rydé and Sanne Salomonsen. They are still rocking and with all respect to Sanne, I was really grateful to her, because I could have a rest from all the tears I cried before. Once this recording took place, I found the fun part in the event too. There were 3 takes of this song. Anne-Lie started singing her part with full energy, she was amazing. Then Sanne entered the stage and she forgot the lyrics. Dea tried to help her out, but it took a bit of time until Sanne found her way back. She came to the front rocking, not really caring about the missing words. Actually, here I have to tell again what I already mentioned during the last Roxette tour that Dea is just amazing how she as a backing vocalist feels the vibes of all the artists and makes their performance even better. She immediately helps wherever she can. Her support is wonderful. Always was so supportive towards Marie too. After the first take of DFS, the same SVT guy who talked to us in the beginning came up on stage and told it was so good they would do another take of it. Anne-Lie stood at her place and started again with the same full energy as for the first take. Sanne came up on stage, but this time somehow she couldn’t enter the song at the right spot, so she stopped the recording and asked to start again. The SVT guy came and told they are happy to do a third take. We all laughed when Anne-Lie said she is not 60 anymore. Haha. But who cares, she still rocked it big time and the third take turned out to be fantastic. I was amazed that the typical DFS clapping choreography supported by Micke Syd and Dea in the background worked out so fine too, with the seated audience. And that during the third take was the strongest, so in the end it’s great they had to start it all again 3 times. I think we all needed that.

Marie’s great collaboration with Lasse Lindbom resulted in several wonderful songs. Actually, they wrote 26 songs together. Ännu doftar kärlek is one of them. The lead single of Marie’s debut solo album is one of the most beautiful ballads, still played on weddings all around Sweden for example. Pictures of couples were shown in the background. Couples of all possible combinations. Because love is love. Lasse was there to perform this song. He was moved you could see and hear it. He started it alone, with a guitar in his hand, the band playing and later Linnea Henriksson also appeared to sing the second half together.

The next performer was Maja Ivarsson, Swedish singer and lead vocalist of the indie rock band The Sounds. In the short video interview with her she told about her band’s break-through in the US and that one blonde already did that before and it was Marie Fredriksson. Marie had a big impression on Maja, she always thought Marie is a fantastic singer, she had great stage presence and she is a fantastic songwriter. That they all miss in Sweden these days. She thinks Marie was a very cool chick with attitude on stage. When Maja entered the stage, she went to the mic stand and said it was Marie’s, but now it’s hers. I’ve never heard of her before and this way I never heard her singing, but how she performed Sleeping In My Car, oh wow. She ruled the stage, the mic, the audience. At the end she dropped the mic and it was absolutely cool. A real rocker! After the event I read in articles that it was Per who picked her to perform SIMC. Good choice, I would say.

In a short video before the next song, Dea Norberg and Christoffer Lundquist were talking about being on tour with Roxette and the hundreds of hours they spent backstage with Marie, singing together, warming up for the concerts. Dea says she has always been impressed by Marie’s strength and power. Chris says she impressed many people around her, also the fans. She was so present all the time. The duo performed an energetic version of Om du såg mej nu. Marie wrote this song to her father who died prior to her achieving any success.

There came a docu block again, showing old footage of Marie receiving awards and talking about the ’80s and ’90s, her balancing between Per’s pop hits in English and her more personal Swedish solo albums, the break-through, the 4 US No. 1’s. The energy in a sold-out stadium with a sing-along crowd is one of the most powerful things. Probably that was one of the things that made her come back after years of illness and rehabilitation, to travel around the world with Roxette again. It was the stage where she felt the most at home. And although we probably didn’t really know Marie, it seems she knew the audiences well. In an old interview she says music is what she lives for, it’s her way of conveying what she feels.

Per Gessle. The time has come. And it was the hardest time for all. Per entering the stage, stepping to his place, a mic stand next to him without Marie behind it and an old pic of Marie and Per shown in the background. The saddest moments during the whole event. There was no way to hold the tears back when Per started singing It Must Have Been Love. With only an acoustic guitar played by him and Christoffer accompanying him. The pause after the first chorus also had its depressing effect on me. Then the background changed to dark with lights like stars over there and Agnes Carlsson walked in. The only song I knew from Agnes was Release Me. I never thought she had such an amazing, powerful voice for ballads. She was not trying to imitate Marie at all, but her voice was the closest to Miss Effe’s. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her to step into Marie’s place in this song, but she did it with all respect and humility. It was heart-breaking to see Per on stage while Agnes was singing. His facial expressions said it all. And the tears were just falling from my eyes. Another song that reminded me that we won’t ever hear it in the way we loved it the most. Per looking at Marie or putting his hand on Marie’s shoulder before she started singing ”Lay a whisper…”, like they did on all concerts during the past tours. A touch that won’t ever happen again, a voice we won’t ever hear live again, two most beloved people we will never see standing next to each other again. The applause at the end of the song was so loud. It deserved it.

After IMHBL Per stayed on stage, changed the guitar and performed their first US No. 1 hit. The song they broke through with internationally. Helena and Dea also came to the front for The Look. I loved the way they entered, hugging Per, ensuring him he can count on their support. And do I have to mention it was fantastic to have Jonas Isacsson there? THE king of riffs indeed. Amazing! The continuous clapping by the audience, still on during the fake ending… it was overwhelming. Goosebumps! Then Per and Chris playing their guitars like they do on tours, back to back to each other, enjoying the vibes, it was lovely to see them so. Per said thanks to the audience after the song and went off stage while the crowd was still clapping loudly for a longer time.

The planned ending of the concert for the TV broadcast was how it started, with Solid Gospel on stage. We could hear Marie’s original vocals and the choir joined in. They performed a wonderful version of Den bästa dagen. No dry eyes at this point either.

The event should have ended, but then Christoffer told the recording for TV is over, but they thought they would perform an extra song for the crowd. The musicians on stage played it with Roxette on tour, but never at the same time, since they are parts of the band from different eras. He asked Clarence to start it. The extra was Fading Like A Flower and Helena and Dea performed it. Guitar solos were played by Chris, Staffan and Jonas and there was a crowd singalong too. I saw the cameras were still recording it and hoped for it to appear on TV too, if not as part of the broadcast, then maybe as an extra video. Fortunately, it still fit in the schedule, so it’s available for everyone to watch at the very end of the video. It was worth recording and sharing it, because it was a great version.

After the extra song we all got up from our seats in the audience and gave a very well-deserved standing ovation. It lasted for minutes. All in all it was a magical evening, an extremely emotional tribute to our dear Marie Fredriksson. Hats off to all the artists, musicians, the choir, the technicians, the band’s crew, the TV crew, the theatre staff for making it happen and for Christoffer an extra hats-off for the arrangements.

It was hard for all the artists who have always been close to Marie to be there and perform. Some of them I already mentioned above and I have to add Anders Herrlin who was there on stage during the whole concert, playing the bass in the front, being the most visible next to the performers and Christoffer. It must have been tough for him, you could see the emotions on his face all the time. Clarence, Pelle, Micke Syd, Staffan and Jonas were less visible, having their spots a bit further in the back, but their musical addition to the concert showed they were also moved. Seeing them on TV you can sense they had a hard time too. It was probably also tough for those who were maybe not so close to Marie, but had her as an inspiration, to kind of step into her place and sing her songs. For the audience it was difficult too. But as tough as it was, it was so beautiful at the same time. Not wanting to use any clichés, but it really felt like we are one big family. One could feel that huge dose of love spreading on and off stage.

Many asked if Marie’s family was there. I didn’t see them and I’m sure it would have been too much for them in their pain, but whenever they will decide to watch the TV version, I’m sure they will also feel the love and magic we all felt there.

The most emotional songs for me were: Tro, Sparvöga, It Must Have Been Love and Den bästa dagen. Per said in a radio interview the day after the event that it felt like a farewell. It did feel like that indeed. But Marie lives on. In our hearts, ears and minds forever. The most awesome singer on Earth and beyond won’t ever be forgotten.

Setlist

  1. Tro (Solid Gospel)
  2. Efter stormen (Linnea Henriksson)
  3. Ett hus vid havet (Helena Josefsson, Dea Norberg and Maja Francis)
  4. Listen To Your Heart (Petra Marklund)
  5. Sparvöga (Eva Dahlgren)
  6. Things Will Never Be The Same (Maja Francis and Christoffer Lundquist)
  7. Dressed For Success (Anne-Lie Rydé and Sanne Salomonsen)
  8. Ännu doftar kärlek (Lasse Lindbom and Linnea Henriksson)
  9. Sleeping In My Car (Maja Ivarsson)
  10. Om du såg mej nu (Dea Norberg and Christoffer Lundquist)
  11. It Must Have Been Love (Per Gessle and Agnes Carlsson)
  12. The Look (Per Gessle – with Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg)
  13. Den bästa dagen (Marie Fredriksson and Solid Gospel)

Extra

  1. Fading Like A Flower (Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg)

 

All pictures in the article are stills from the event broadcast on SVT.

You can watch the video on SVT Play until 23rd July 2020.