Growing up in Halmstad, a small town on the Swedish west coast, right between Gothenburg and Malmö, meant that live music experiences were few and far between. We actually had just one decent venue for gigs, a youth centre called Diezel, which housed small-to-midsized gigs, and solely Swedish bands. If you wanted to see international acts, even the small ones, you had to go to either Malmö or Gothenburg (or maybe Lund, which is close to Malmö, and home to one of Sweden’s largest universities, which often means that the local live scene is more or less vibrant).

All this added up to the fact that I went to my first real concert when I was sixteen years old, which is a bit weird, considering my enormous interest in music. And the live debut came when the Cardigans came to Halmstad and Diezel in April 1995. At this time, the Cardigans, bound for worldwide glory a few years later, had just released their second album, ‘Life’, and had yet to score a hit even in their home country. I must admit that I don’t remember that much from the gig itself, more than that singer Nina Persson was shaking skull shaped maracas and that guitarist Peter Svensson was wearing a Black Sabbath T-shirt, which was a bit of a surprise considering whatthe Cardigans sounded like, but they also recorded a cover of 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’, so I guess it made sense in a way).

Two years later I headed north to Gothenburg to finally see one of my biggest idols at the time – Morrissey. He had just released the ‘Maladjusted’ album, and was touring Europe, a tour that included his first visit ever to Sweden, on December 1st 1997. Lisebergshallen, a venue that belongs to the big amusement park Liseberg, was packed (or so I remember it, anyway), and the audience was full of young men (mostly) who had the mandatory quiff and carried copies of Oscar Wilde books in their pocket. Much to our surprise, Moz also decided that it was time for him to play old Smiths songs again, and this night he treated us to ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’ and ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’ (He introduced the latter with the words, "This song is called ‘Sorrow Will Come in the End’", which was one of the less liked songs on the recent album). It felt like attending a sermo, in a way, but oh how I enjoyed it! Too bad old Mozzer is a crazy old man today…

Fast forward five years, and we end up in Malmö, at the classic venue KB (Kulturbolaget). It’s not a huge venue, but they tend to attract somewhat big names. A few years earlier I had the pleasure of seeing Elliott Smith play there (sharing a bill with the Flaming Lips and Mark Kozelek), and also an acoustic Ron Sexsmith show. But this time, I saw Scottish indiepopsters Belle & Sebastian for the first time, and, even though I wasn’t a huge fan back then, I really enjoyed the show, and it was great seeing them with the original line-up (Well, Stuart David left a bit earlier), before Isobel Campbell decided to quit the band.

One of my all-time favourite bands are the Wedding Present, and in 2005 I finally got the opportunity to see them perform live when they played at Loppen in Copenhagen (the venue is located on the outskirts of the infamous freetown Christiania, which is probably most known for their liberal approach to drugs). A couple of years earlier, I had interviewed band leader David Gedge for Pennyblackmusic, and this evening in March 2005 I also got to meet him in person and ask as few questions (He was a very friendly guy), which added to the great overall experience of this night. I remember the gig as very energetic and they played lots of old songs, like ‘My Favourite Dress’ and ‘Kennedy’, songs that always brings down the house. I also remember a guy wearing a ‘George Best’ shirt who was really annoying and finally got David to tell him to shut up. He did.

In early 2006, the Knife announced that they would be playing live for the very first time that same spring, and, since my girlfriend at the time was a big fan, we tried to get tickets, but they sold out in just a few minutes. Then a week later, I checked the ticket site, and noticed that there were suddenly a few ones available again, so I jumped to the chance and got us two tickets! The Swedish electronica duo had just released their third album, ‘Silent Shout’, which I really liked, but I hadn’t listened a lot to the older ones (apart from the song ‘Heartbeats’), so I didn’t know what to expect from the show. It turned out I was in for a treat. The show was billed as an ‘audio visual experience’, and it sure was. Karin and Olof were placed between two movie screens, where various projections were made, and on top of this they also had 3D animations projected “over” the audience (this was a few years before Kraftwerk started doing the same thing in 2009). This show (and one on the same tour in Gothenburg) was also filmed, and released on DVD later the same year.

The last ticket stub that came out of the memory box is for a show in Glasgow. I had been a fan of the Decemberists (from Portland, US) since the early 00s, and every time they announced a tour of Europe, I kept my fingers crossed… but no. No dates in Sweden. Not even Denmark or Norway. Finally, I was fed up with waiting in vain, and booked tickets for a show at the ABC venue in Glasgow in February 2007, on their tour in support of ‘The Crane Wife’ album, their first for major label Capitol. The show was absolutely brilliant, of course, and I specifically remember singer Colin Meloy taking a break halfway through the set to engage the audience in some calisthenics!

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