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It seems that every generation during the last few decades has had their own Swedish music sweethearts.
For those born in the 1950s and 1960s, there was the glittering disco giant ABBA. The later generations, who spent their teenage years in the hairspray and spandex loving 1980s probably rocked along to the sounds of pop duo Roxette. And then there’s the one decade before the most recent turn of the century, which brought us another disco quartet, Ace of Base, and the quirky pop-rock group The Cardigans.
The Cardigans have been categorized vaguely as “Swedish pop”, along with artists such as Meja
and The Wannadies, whose sounds are similarly catchy and ripe for karaoke.
Nina Persson, Peter Svensson, Bengt Lagerberg, Magnus Sveningsson and Lasse Johansson formed The Cardigans in the early 1990s. To increase their exposure, the band moved from the small town
of Jonkoping to Sweden’s third-largest town of Malmo, as their website explains.
The local and international music market greeted the quintet warmly after they released the cheerful “Rise and Shine” and the festive “Carnival” from their second album, Life. However, it was “Lovefool” that propelled them into superstardom.
The seemingly naïve cries of a doomed romance became the soundtrack for the 1996 movie Romeo + Juliet, directed by Baz Luhrmann, and soon became the anthem for genuine “lovefools”, or people just wanting to have a good time playing the part.
Thus, The Cardigans, who held a concert in Jakarta last Tuesday, became another success story from a cold country that has made music — warm, upbeat music, at that — an important identity for itself.
During the press conference prior to the concert, Sweden’s ambassador to Indonesia Ewa Polano highlighted her country’s achievements in the arts.
“We are, per capita, the number one music exporter in the world. So that is something that is very big. Of course, our country consists of 9 million people, but among these 9 million there are many pop artists ... ” she said.
An ambassador’s willingness and desire to attend a press conference for a pop group from her home country does show extra attention for her country’s music industry.
But although Polano’s favorite might be “Lovefool”, she was also among those who witnessed that the concert itself was not as light and fluffy as that particular chart topper, because the concert included a lot of material from their 1998 album Gran Turismo, which has often been viewed as a darker album.
An entry on the band’s website said that the initiative to arrange such a show first came from the 2012 Swedish Hultsfred festival (an annual music festival held in Hultsfred, Sweden).
“When we received the request, we thought the arrangement was so unexpected and fun, that we had to say yes. For us, it’s about the joy of rediscovering a favorite album, and hopefully it will be the same for the audience.” as quoted on the website entry, dated on Nov. 23, 2011.
The festival had been the first time The Cardigans played live in their homeland since 2006.
In fact, singer Persson said, during the press conference, that it had been six years since they last played together, having formed the band 20 years ago.
“In between [that time] all of us pretty much had other musical projects, other bands, other jobs … a lot of babies have been born. Between all of us, there is six and a half [babies],” she said.
And although they are still in the dark about the possibility of a new release, Persson said that they were “definitely still a band”.
“When we do things, we love it. And we are not ready to call it quits yet,” she said.
Even Ridho Hafiedz from Loud Productions, which organized the event, said that the show aimed to be a “1990s nostalgia concert”.
The concert, which was held in the Tennis Indoor Senayan sports hall, began at around 9:30 p.m. Despite it being the fasting month and nearing the regular exodus period when residents of the capital head home for Idul Fitri celebrations, the venue, which has a capacity of around 3,500 people, was at least half full.
As if setting the mood for Gran Turismo, the band members dressed mostly in black.
They kicked off the night with the thumping “Paralyzed”, and the concert’s overall mood remained intense as the band moved through songs such as “Erase/Rewind” , “Explode” and “Do you Believe”.
The audience was, nevertheless, visibly more excited during their more popular hits, such as “Rise
and Shine” and, after the encore, were still chanting “Car-ni-val”
(despite the absence of that particular song).
As for Persson, her lighthearted remarks during the press conference give us further insight into her wit and spunk: “Just have a lot of sex,” she answered when a journalist asked her the secret to maintaining a “beautiful and sexy voice”.