We were in Stockholm for the annual Pride festival and parade. A Swedish gay friend of ours had warned us that Swedish gays are not very good at organising events and this ws sadly very true this year. I have been to a couple of Prides back when I lived in Stockholm which were much better organised. I won’t go on about here since the Judge has written about this aspect here.
The one thing I do look forward to in Pride is the music and the plethora of Swedish artists that grace the stage at Pride Park.
The first group we got to see was Alcazar, one of my favourite groups. This show was not at Pride Park but at a venue floating on the water off Kungsholmen. All three members of Alcazar were totally relaxed and were having a great time themselves. They chatted with each other and with the audience and just had fun as did the audience. No egos or star trips at all. I was pleased that I could follow a lot of what they were saying på svenska.
We had a great spot right in front of the makeshift stage, just over a metre in front of the three of them. Andreas looked down at me once and smiled, and Lina and I sang to each other. They sound great live and their songs worked really well with an unplugged arrangement, especially their slowed down version of “Don’t You Want Me”, the Human League song.
Petra, the host of this year’s Melodifestivalen, joined the group for the encore, their version of the Jason Mraz hit “I’m Yours”.
Pride Park officially opened on the Wednesday with Niklas Andersson, star of musical theatre, singing a disco medley and proving there is a lot more to him than the theatrical.
The main event was a tribute concert to the late and great Dusty Springfield. Marit Bergman and Rebecka Tornqvist were just terrific, putting their own stamp on some of the lesser known Dusty hits, including some of my personal favourites like “What’s It Gonna Be”. A guy called Tingsek was very impressive too as well as Titiyo. Jill Johnson sang well but didn’t really inject anything special into “Son Of Preacher Man” and “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”.
Maybe it’s time for a Swedish Dusty tribute album.
Schlager Night is always a highlight of Pride although it did show how disorganised Pride Park was.
I was really looking forward to this night but it was ultimately disappointing in that this year, we mainly got a cabaret act singing covers of many of the songs. The act was good but they weren’t why the massive crowd was there. It felt like unnecessary padding.
But some the artists who did appear were fantastic even if there was a heavy bias towards recent artists. I was very happy to see Sarah Dawn Finer, Shirley Clamp, Lili & Susie, Alcazar and Anna Sahlene. Even Magnus Carlsson was good although I’m not a huge fan.
The real treat (although I was soaked from the rain by this point) was at the end when a cheeky Alexander Rybak from Norway bounced unexpectedly onto the stage dressed in a sailor suit (he certainly knew his audience). The crowd went wild as he performed his new single as well as his Eurovision winner.
90s night wasn’t so good. The 90s is still too recent for it to have any nostalgic factor plus there isn’t really a defining sound apart from a heavy bass sound that was causing my insides to vibrate! Too many rap artists for my liking. We did get Haddaway along with Dr Alban and they were a lot of fun.
The highlight of this night was spending time with our good friend, Claes.
We went to the Parade through the streets of Stockholm in the afternoon. I couldn’t help but compare it with Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade. Although not on the same scale as Mardi Gras, the Pride parade did retain more of the community spirit as well as balance the party side of thing with the political, something Mardi Gras hasn’t been able to do for quite a few years.
I wasn’t feeling particularly well but I still allowed myself to be talked into going back to Pride Park for the final time on Saturday night and I’m so glad we did since Neo performed three of his songs. Neo is this great new artist who I wrote about a couple of months ago. Despite an initial technical problem, Neo lifted the spirits of the crowd with his bright, spangly pop. I was thrilled to be able to meet him after his performance and get an autographed copy of his album. Neo himself seemed surprised and pleased to have a fan in Australia.
After meeting Neo, I went back and watched a mini concert from Miss Li. I had heard of her before but didn’t know any of her music. I was pleasantly surprised since she is a good live performer.
After Miss Li, the Judge and I went off for a final drink before heading home. We had to get up early the next morning for the big road trip but that’s a post for another time…