17 years have passed since Roxette last toured Australia. That visit was to promote their underrated "Crash! Boom! Bang!" album, which was probably the Swedish duo's last hurrah as an international chart force. They remained popular in some parts of Europe but completely dropped off the radar over here, which is mystifying given the frenzied response they received from fans at last night's sold-out show at the Entertainment Centre. I haven't seen middle-aged housewives and vintage gays this excited since Cher's last farewell tour!
While the audience had clearly seen better days, Per and Marie look and sound almost the same as they did in their hey day. Sure, the now 53-year-olds haven't escaped the clutches of Father Time entirely but if you squint your eyes and down a few bourbons, you could be forgiven for thinking it was 1995 all over again. Which I mean as a huge compliment. Unlike certain acts from that era, Roxette aren't trading solely on nostalgia. They can still cut it as a live band and hit the high notes with ruthless Scandinavian efficiency. Take the opening number. "Dressed For Success" sounded every bit as crisp and catchy as it did in 1989. It was wild to hear that retro classic live for the first time in a sea of fans chanting every word. A trend that continued throughout "Sleeping In My Car" and only finished when the pop veterans settled into ballad mode with songs like "The Big L." and "Wish I Could Fly".
After a politely-received medley of songs from their latest album "Charm School", super-ballad "It Must Have Been Love" - AKA that ballad from Pretty Woman - had everyone on their feet again. Marie looks like she needs to eat a burger or twenty but her voice is ferocious and she delivered the song brilliantly, stopping occasionally to get the crowd to sing along. That was followed by a selection of their catchiest upbeat pop hits. "How Do You Do!" was a camp delight but I was more excited to hear "Dangerous", which is probably my second-favourite Roxette song. I still remember the stupid video with Per and Marie performing in a castle. Can someone please cover this amazing pop gem? It needs to be re-discovered by people under 30! They then closed the show by dusting off 1991's camp-as-tits "Joyride". Time hasn't wearied that lyrical masterpiece either.
After a quick break, the duo returned for an extended encore, belting out mega-hits like "Spending My Time" and "Listen To Your Heart". As much as I love their up-tempo numbers, the band's ballads that hold up even better. Marie's voice is still superb and the songs wouldn't wouldn't sound out of place on a Kelly Clarkson album today with a bit of a brush up. The Roxette experience then came to an end with their breakthrough smash "The Look" - you could probably hear the crowd na na na na na na-ing from three blocks away - and my favourite "Church Of Your Heart" (below). If you get a chance to see the perky twosome, go for it. The show is two hour reminder of why they were one of the most biggest acts on the planet between 1989 and 1991. I enjoyed every second.