My love of Swedish pop music actually predates ABBA. Even though I didn’t know it was Swedish at the time, one of my earliest favourite songs was “Hooked On A Feeling” by the band, “Blue Swede” featuring Björn Skifs. I only discovered the Swedish link when Björn appeared in “Chess” the musical by Björn and Benny from ABBA, and I started looking into the back catalogue of the various artists. And that’s when I discovered the Swedish connection to one of my favourite childhood songs. Tonight, I saw Björn Skiffs sing “Hooked On A Feeling” live in concert. It sounded just as great tonight live as it did on the radio almost forty years ago.
Björn was “the headline act” for Artister spelar för livet, a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis. They raised over 1-million kroner, by the way, from tonight’s concert and auction. But he wasn’t the reason I bought tickets. I was there primarily to see Magnus Carlsson and Alcazar, as well as Charlotte Perelli and Jessica Folker.
Charlotte was the opener, performing her two big Eurovision hits, “Take Me To Your Heaven” (the English version), and “Hero”. In between she also sang what she called, “a woman’s struggle song”, “I Will Survive”. I have only ever seen her perform once before, at Stockholm Pride in 2008, but was suitably impressed tonight. The host for tonight made a few jokes about her legs (which went all the way to her navel) which she seemed to take with good humour.
I was less impressed with Jessica Folker. She seemed unprepared – she was appearing late on stage – and performed without much passion (IMHO). One song she sang reading the lyrics from a piece of paper.
The two acts I was there to see were excellent.
Of the three songs he sang, my favourites from Magnus Carlsson were “Kom hem” (a song he did with his previous dance band/boy band Barbados) and “A Little Respect” (a cover version of a song by Erasure)”. He describe the second song as coming from the 80s, a decade of big hair and shoulder pads, but great music. Magnus both sings and moves around the stage really well.
Alcazar also managed to get most of the audience to their feet as they sang their hits, “Headlines” and “Stay The Night”. Although I instantly liked “Headlines”, it’s become more of a grower for me over the last few days and I’ve found myself singing or humming to it as I’ve been walking around Stockholm. Andreas made a few jokes here and there about not making it to the Melodifestivalen final this year, by the way. The photographs should give you an idea of the energy of their performance.
In addition to the music, there was also a fair bit of chat and a comedian. Oh my Lord, I thought, how am I going to cope with comedy in Swedish? But since the bloke did a funny routine with an audience member, a fake mask, and ventriloquism (do I really need to explain?) I actually managed to follow and laugh in the right places. That said, I only understood about 10% of what was being said tonight.
I did understand, however, most of the song introductions. And I did understand a few of the amusing asides from the musicians. For example, I picked up on Björn Skiffs comment during his act when he picked up an earing from the stage, and saying “it must belong to Alcazar. I’ll give it to Andreas later!”.