Sebastian Smee hit it out of the park again with his review of the Hokusai exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum (“Rare views of ‘Hokusai’s Waterfalls’,” Arts, Sept. 2). Hokusai has been a favorite artist of mine since college. Smee inspired me to get out my copy of “Hokusai Manga,” edited by James Michener. I wish Worcester were not such a hike from Marblehead. Smee’s expressive style and range of knowledge make for captivating reading.
Roxette fans react
As a 21-year fan of Roxette who attended the group’s recent concert in Boston, I was glad to see Marc Hirsh’s review (“Roxette celebrates a catalog of familiar pop confections,” g, Sept. 6). Roxette has gotten little to no media attention here since the ’90s. But this was the 134th stop on a 1½-year tour in which Roxette has sold out 10,000-15,000-capacity arenas all over the world. (Only in North America are the shows so small because of lack of promotion here.) Someone who sounds frail and quavering would not be able to do that.
Very few 54-year-olds sound exactly the same as they did 20 years ago, especially someone who has experienced brain cancer like Marie Fredriksson. We fans didn’t think we would ever see her onstage again because she had only a 5 percent chance of survival. The treatments left her with blindness in one eye and memory problems. But she’s back, and she doesn’t need a handicapped sticker to park herself onstage. She still sounds amazing. I was touched by the exquisiteness of her voice. She may be frail in body and have struggled to survive, but frailty and struggling are not synonymous with the name of Marie Fredriksson as a performer.
And how can Hirsh say they were trying to hide behind their audience by letting fans sing? All artists do that. The artists who really need to hide don’t sing at all, they just lip-synch. The parts in which Fredriksson sang by herself were the parts in which she shone the brightest.
I am sorry, but when the whole world is raving about Roxette’s performances, when Roxette fills stadiums of 10,000-20,000 capacity, when the group has been touring for nearly two years straight and the interest doesn’t die down, all Marc Hirsh had to say is that Marie Fredriksson “seemed to sing with effort” and “avoided the power notes”? She has the most powerful and beautiful voice in the world! I had tears in my eyes listening to her sing “Perfect Day”! I have been a fan for more than 20 years, and every time she comes onstage — in a stadium or a tiny venue as in Boston — she performs with love and devotion, she gives the audience 200 percent of her energy, and her voice reaches straight into your heart.
Hirsh has the right to write whatever he wants. But none of us in the audience in the House of Blues heard what he heard. We were blown away by the whole concert, and we sang along with every song from start to finish. Each show is played live, with no prerecorded stuff or lip-synching, and the solos are improvised. Roxette is a miracle, pure talent!
We came from all over the United States (and from Uruguay, Brazil, Germany, and Spain) to see Roxette, and it was the best performance I have ever seen!
As to Marie: She is a tiny, fragile woman with the voice of a goddess, and she survived cancer and got back onstage when no one else thought she would live (let alone sing ever again)! I think Hirsh owes Marie and her fans an apology. If Roxette never comes back to play in Boston, he can take a huge credit for that.
I respectfully disagree with some of Hirsh’s statements in his review. First, I think he noted the many “Joyride”-era songs played. Those were the most popular here in the States, and guitarist Per Gessle has stated in prior interviews that Marie Fredriksson finds it much easier to remember the older songs. Those sound like two very good reasons to focus on those songs.
Obviously, her voice is not exactly how it was 20 years ago. People age. Fredriksson has had a rough battle with brain cancer, and from what I understand, she has some limitations. On the other hand, I did not find her voice to be strained and frail. Actually, it seemed more filled with emotion. I think they did an excellent job adapting the songs to suit her vocal range, rather than trying to exactly duplicate their recorded efforts from decades ago. They also did an excellent job making the songs instantly recognizable and familiar. I’ve heard some “modern” bands live and have been so disappointed — lip-synching, prerecorded or computerized instruments, whatever. At least with Roxette I knew the people onstage actually wrote the music and were delivering the music they love to me at that instant. As to having the audience sing along, as far as I know Roxette has always invited the audience to participate. I really enjoyed doing so, as did others around me.
I attended Roxette’s concert in Toronto, not the one in Boston. But I can’t imagine the two performances, separated by a few days, were very different. I was quite impressed with the concert I saw (and drove 1,500 miles to see).
It was outrageous to read Marc Hirsh’s review after such a terrific Roxette concert. Marie Fredriksson has the most beautiful voice. It is perfection. She sang and sounded the same way you hear on CDs or videos of more than 20 years ago! Hearing her singing live is priceless. She has a particular and unique voice that nobody can match. There were no lip-synchs, and she hits high notes all the time with a terrific power that left many of us in tears.
Hirsh’s review was extremely disappointing and spread the wrong message to an entire city. It will not help future appearances of the band in this area.
Fredriksson is more than a talent, and her voice is a gift from God that should not be taken for granted. It should not be denigrated by an ignorant critic who seems to lack knowledge of this band.
A critic’s life
Thank you so much for Sebastian Smee’s appreciation of Robert Hughes (“Art critic with an appetite,” Arts, Aug. 12). I found it very interesting and even moving. Smee writes very, very well. Please keep running such perceptive and skillful pieces on major cultural figures. This is what television and the Internet do not do well, and we need it in our newspapers.
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