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Last Live in 2018

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The Cardigans Gran Turismo 20th Anniversary Tour

Apollo Manchester, 3 December 2018

Band Members

Lars-Olof Johansson – keyboards, piano, guitar
Bengt Lagerberg – drums, percussion
Nina Persson – lead vocals, keyboards
Magnus Sveningsson – bass, vocals
Oskar Humlebo – guitar, vocals

When I arrived at the iconic Apollo venue in Manchester I was surprised to see so few cars parked and even wondered whether I had mistaken the date of the show…On entering the venue I established that I was not mistaken but fans were scarce right up to the point the band finally mounted the stage when they poured into the audience area, albeit still in more modest numbers than I expected. I was told that 800 tickets had been sold which translates into just a third of available capacity.

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But the fans that bothered to turn out gave the band a warm and generous welcome while Persson responded with a thank-you and broad smile.  As the name of the tour implies the band’s fourth GRAN TURISMO album dominates the first segment of the show led by a black-suited Persson who cemented the darker nature of the album with passionate and expressive vocals. The singer’s soaring vocals was matched by tight instrumental performances although sound management was not the best and marred an otherwise great performance. The landmark ’My Favourite Game’ prompted the first singalong of the show and arrival at a point where the band were truly rocking.

Persson’s change of wardrobe to something brighter and lighter signalled a reprise of popular songs from other albums and the audience at its most receptive and appreciative. I last witnessed a Cardigans show in Dublin around eighteen years ago when they were at their popular and animated best. This show was more measured, more sombre, more mechanical but the band’s performance could not be faulted. There have been troubles waters, particularly for Persson, but this was a brave show which revealed the band’s musical skill to its fullest extent.

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Setlist

Paralyzed
Erase/Rewind
Explode
Starter
Hanging Around
Higher
Marvel Hill
My Favourite Game
Do You Believe
Junk of the Hearts
Nil
Live and Learn
For What It’s Worth
And Then You Kissed Me
Don’t Blame Your Daughter (Diamonds)
You’re the Storm
I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer

Encore:

Communication
Lovefool
03.45: No Sleep
Play

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Biography

Peter Svensson and Magnus Sveningsson, both heavy metal musicians, formed the group on 31 October 1992 in Jönköping, Sweden, with drummer Bengt Lagerberg, keyboardist Lars-Olof Johansson and lead singer Nina Persson. Living together in a small apartment, The Cardigans recorded a demo tape with Persson providing lead vocals on only one of the songs towards the end of the track list. A&R man Ola Hermanson heard the demo and signed the band to his Trampolene imprint. In 1994, they released their debut album Emmerdale in Sweden and Japan; it was re-released internationally in 1997. The album included the Swedish radio hit “Rise & Shine”, which was later voted the best of 1994 in a poll in Slitz magazine.

The remainder of 1994 was spent touring Europe and recording Life, which was released worldwide in 1995. Life became an international success, selling more than a million copies and achieving platinum status in Japan. In 1996, Life was released under the label Minty Fresh in the US, but this release was essentially a compilation of tracks from Emmerdale and Life.

After their success with Life, The Cardigans signed with Mercury Records, under which they released First Band on the Moon worldwide in 1996. “Lovefool” was a hit worldwide, particularly in the US and Japan, where the album reached platinum status in three weeks. The album also achieved gold sales status in the US. “Lovefool” was shown on MTV in the late 1990s as a music video with clips from the 1996 hit film Romeo + Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. It also featured in the film Cruel Intentions (1999).

In 1997, the band played themselves on the graduation episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 as the featured entertainment at the fictional California High School’s graduation party, hosted by Kelly Taylor’s dad, Bill Taylor. The band performed “Lovefool” and “Been It.” 1998’s Gran Turismo was followed by a long hiatus during which the band members pursued solo side projects. The same year they also released a compilation album of rare B-sides, The Other Side of the Moon as a Japan-only release. The video of the song “My Favourite Game” was censored by MTV for showing reckless driving. Despite this, it went on to become their second global hit song. “My Favourite Game” was featured on the soundtrack of the PlayStation video game Gran Turismo 2 in the intro movie on CD1. That year also saw their song “Deuce” appearing on The X-Files: The Album. Their song “Erase/Rewind” was featured in the 1999 films Never Been Kissed and The Thirteenth Floor.

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