Swansong – (noun) the last act or manifestation of someone or something.

Death seems to be about quite a bit at the moment: my mom passed on at the end of last year and 2016 had hardly begun when the great David Bowie,

David Bowie RIP

 

Alan Rickman (he of Slytherin House and Nakatomi Plaza fame)

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as well as The Eagles’ founding member, Glenn Frey, popped off. The loss of a beloved celebrity is always unsettling as, much like losing a parent, one is suddenly starkly reminded of our past and how quickly time whizzes by. This very frightening speeding by of our lives was highlighted for me when a friend (what do you call someone who you are in the early stages of sort-of dating with? Crush?) recently took me to see Roxette’s 30th anniversary tour concert at the International Convention Centre here in Durban.

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I was honestly astonished when I saw the tour poster outside. Good Lord! Thirty years! They have been around for 30 years! I have bopped to them in clubs and pubs, and even perved over the lead singer in their videos shown on large screens in sports bars over the years. Hell, when that “Pretty Woman” movie came out (you know the one, Cinderella re-imagined as a prostitute, don’t get me started!) with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, their soundtrack song dominated the airwaves. Since 1986…wtf!! Where the hell did those 30 years go? I often want to grab my little foster daughter, Kayleigh, and look into her eyes and say “savour every moment, slow down and savour every moment. Trust me. Before you know it, it will be gone”!  She turns 21 next month! Man, it was just the other day that she was dressed like a princess fairy, sitting on my shoulders and holding onto my hair with her sticky little fingers. It passes in the blink of an eye!

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That night at the concert was a vivid reminder of that fact. And this was not just because of the memories Roxette’s upbeat, often sentimental, bright, vibey pop tunes brought back… and there were a surprisingly large number of them which I had totally forgotten about but brought memories rushing back as I recognized them. It was also starkly evident on stage, those ravages of time. The most notably ravaged was Marie Fredriksson.

A fan site had this to say:

“Don’t wonder about Marie not walking, dancing and jumping around the stage – she simply can’t. She suffers from long term effects which include problems with her right leg (yes, it might be that she struggles with it and touches it all the time), she can’t see properly on her right eye and has problems hearing with her right ear. She has problems walking due to the effects the tumour had on her body.”

Yes, the ravages of time. As an Australian newspaper noted in a concert review:

“OK, let’s address the elephant in the room first thing. Roxette lead singer Marie Fredriksson is not well.”

In 2002, Marie Fredriksson, the voice and face of Roxette was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. After surgery and intensive treatment she had to relearn reading and writing. She remains blind in one eye.

I only found this out after the concert because the audience and I were acutely aware that she sat through the entire show, barely moving. Whilst singing she would sometimes falter and even fade away completely to be carried vocally by a support singer. There were, of course, also no close ups of her on the big screens. At the end of the concert she was helped off stage by the other part of the pop duo, Per .

Although not a huge fan of the band I really enjoyed the concert. It is phenomenal how these Nordic countries continue to produce bands that create such perfect pop music: Abba, Aha, Ace of Base and of course, Roxette. They amass huge fortunes writing and performing English pop music and are often the leading export product in their countries. Per is Picasso-wealthy and by that I mean he invests in art and OWNS A PICASSO! That is serious wealth. That is why (being a quite naturally inquisitive person) when I went online to find out the reasons for Marie’s uncharacteristic performance, I was seriously touched by the fact that they chose to see out what are in all likelihood her last years doing what they have always done: performing together. Good for them! If you are going to die do it doing what you love, and fighting until the very end. No feeling sorry for yourself!

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There is a lesson in that for all of us.