Return of Roxette - they've still got the look

By Paula Yeoman

Against all odds the Swedish duo is on tour again, writes Paula Yeoman.

The secret to Roxette's longevity is the brother-sister type of relationship between Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle.
The secret to Roxette's longevity is the brother-sister type of relationship between Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle.

In February 2012, Roxette cancelled what would have been their first New Zealand concert.

Per Gessle suffered crippling stomach pains on a flight from Stockholm and was forced to pull the plug on the Auckland show while in transit in Singapore, where he was hospitalised. He was devastated.

"Through all these years, we've only cancelled two shows. For all those people who bought tickets and travelled and had plans they had to cancel, it was just a nightmare. We knew we had to make it up to everyone when we came back."

And they will. On Thursday, Live Nation announced the Swedish pop-rock duo - Gessle and Marie Fredriksson - are touring again. They will hit New Zealand shores a mere three years after their last world tour that took them to 46 countries, where they played for 1.5 million people.

It's not bad for a band that was told in the late 1980s they would never crack the US market.

It was terrible advice, of course, because Roxette went on to have four No1 hits in the States - their breakthrough smash The Look, Listen To Your Heart, It Must Have Been Love and Joyride. They enjoyed the same success in New Zealand.

"Our record company turned us down because it didn't sound 'American enough'," Gessle laughs.

"A radio station in Minneapolis had a show where people could bring in their records. An exchange student who had been in Sweden for many months, where of course we were really big with the Look Sharp! album, took it in and asked them to play a song. They didn't even bother to listen to it.

"He went back two weeks later to pick it up and the programme director loved the sleeve. He got really curious about it and played the first song, The Look. They put it on air and people started calling asking to hear it again. And that's exactly how it happened. If it hadn't, I probably wouldn't be talking to you now."

Roxette will play Auckland's Vector Arena on February 7, leaving Gessle time to work on new material over summer.

"We're talking about doing an EP, four or five songs. At the same time, knowing me, I write a lot and if everything goes well, it might as well be a full-scale album."

Remarkably, this new world tour marks 25 years since Roxette proved their label wrong and topped the charts in America. So what's the secret behind one of pop's most enduring relationships?

"It helps that we never had a romance. We've known each other all our lives and it's like a brother-sister relationship. When Marie got ill in 2002, it was a nightmare for all of us," he says, referring to Fredriksson's brain cancer diagnosis.

"I'm so pleased that she's still alive. To be able to do these tours again is just amazing."

Roxette will play Vector Arena in Auckland on February 7. Tickets go on sale at noon on Tuesday, May 27.

- Herald on Sunday

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