I shall break down as much as I can about how this came about, how it all took place, and my thoughts on it afterwards. I'll try not to go for too long, but no promises though. I've eaten my own words before...
Firstly, Roxette were planning on performing in New Zealand during their previous tour. However, due to an illness, that particular concert had to be cancelled. I was unable to afford tickets to that show, so its cancellation gave me mixed feelings. Disappointment, because they weren't coming, and of optimism, because this could mean that there may be a second chance in the future. Thankfully the latter was true, and within minutes of the earlybird sales becoming available, I jumped in and grabbed a couple for my wife and I, risking being late for work in the process (I have priorities). I had to hold back on the excitement though, as I planned on making it 'Facebook official' once the actual physical tickets arrived via snail mail. So, now we had a few months to wait for the big day, and pray no further illnesses would come about!
Jumping forward to the beginning of 2015, it was then announced that the tour would be for the band's 30th anniversary, which made it a little extra special...or XXXtra special, in this case. Also, the New Zealand gig was to be the launch of the tour itself. Even better!
Then comes February. My wife and I made our way up to Auckland the day before the concert so we could get ourselves settled for 4 nights of leisure time - the second of which included the main event. When the day came, we made our way to Vector Arena by foot as we were staying close by at a hotel in the city centre. As we arrived at the complex around 5-5:30pm (over an hour before the venue doors were open), we went into a nearby bar, The Tuning Fork, to have some food beforehand. While doing so, I had a look around at the people already there and at the ones still arriving. I was very keen on seeing how many Roxette fans like me are actually in this country.
The doors were due to open at 6:30pm, but first I decided to invade the merchandise trailer... A little over $280 later (no joke), I walked away with a t-shirt, the "XXX" compilation album, Per Gessle's book, "Songs, Sketches & Reflections" (English version), and "The Per Gessle Archives" box set (1 of 2 available). The most money I'd spent during the entire Auckland trip, but worth it.
The opening act was scheduled to perform at 7:30. They were Auckland's own, Ekko Park. A nice choice, if you ask me. Look them up sometime. They performed for 30 minutes.
Following this performance there was a 30-minute intermission...or so we thought. Firstly, I don't think the time by my mobile phone was the same as Vector Arena's. Theirs could've been more correct, for all I know. But by the time I had in front of me, Ekko Park hit the stage about 5-10 minutes late, which lead me to think maybe Roxette would be the same after the intermission. However, they were actually a little later than expected. But then the lights went off and the crowd started to cheer.
There were quite a few songs in the first half of the show where the audience sat in their seats a lot. Allow me to explain this from a New Zealander's point of view. A majority of our population that know of Roxette will tell you that they know all of their hits from 1989 to 1992 (1994 if you're lucky). That's songs from "The Look" right up to the likes of "How Do You Do!" and/or "Sleeping in My Car". Much of their releases beyond the "Crash! Boom! Bang!" album (1994) have been released here, but got little or no airplay/promotion in this country. I can't explain why this is the case, and no I don't think it's fair. As for their material released from 1986 to 1987, the only time any of it has been released here is on a music video DVD. So, when it comes to the audience's reaction to the 'unheard' songs, it's not being offensive or anything. It's just a result of poor promotion on NZ media's part. Those who aren't familiar with the other material besides the big hits just need an introduction to the rest of the world of Roxette. Thankfully, I'm not in that category as I'm the type who researches that which interests me. When it comes to Roxette, I've been doing this since I've had Internet, basically.
The crowd stood up whenever a familiar song came on, of course. Most of their hits made up the second half of the show, so everyone was on their feet eventually.
Judging by the volume of the crowd cheering/screaming, I think the most popular song of the night comes as no surprise, really. After being played more than 4 million times on the radio since 1990, "It Must Have Been Love" is bound to pull on your heartstrings.
"Crash! Boom! Bang!" had Per Gessle singing the first verse and chorus before Marie Fredriksson took over. They did this in previous tours too.
"Crush on You", "Almost Unreal" and the inclusion of the chorus of "Paint" in this evening's rendition of "Watercolours in the Rain" came as a surprise to the Roxette community tuning in online (I was posting the tracks in real-time on Twitter for the world to see). I was pleased to hear "The Heart Shaped Sea" also.
I also noticed that Marie needed some help getting on and off stage, and even to sit in a chair (before performing "Perfect Day"). It can be understood if anyone in the audience were feeling concerned or confused about why this was the case. I think this has something to do with her health scare back in 2002, and any reaction to this can be forgiven if whoever was concerned wasn't aware of what happened back then. Like I said before, much of New Zealand has been in the dark about Roxette's history after the mid-90's. Either way, Marie put on a great performance regardless.
Back in 1993, I could've only dreamt of attending a Roxette concert. The closest they ever came to our shores after I officially became a fan was during their tour for "Crash! Boom! Bang!" Even before then, they only got as far as Australia. But now, 22 years later, I can finally say, "Roxette came to NZ, and I was there with them."