As I walked into Rooftop Bar in Melbourne last Wednesday, I was suddenly set upon by my girlfriends, armed with shiny stickers and glitter for an ‘Aquavention’. It was Aqua’s final Australian show that night on their ‘Love Generation’ tour, and by God they weren’t going to rest until I gave in to those late-90s pangs of nostalgia (or was blinded by glitter bombs).
As we made our way into the Palace Theatre, it became clear that Aqua still reigns supreme for a veritable cross-section of Melbournites. The theatre was packed to the brim. Middle-aged school teachers, drag queens and girls who weren’t even born when ‘Barbie Girl’ hit the airwaves could all be seen bouncing around in excitement to the classic 90s pop tunes being played by Sydney-based supporting act, Radio Ink.
As Aqua came on stage dressed in all black and hailed by deafening screams, , they could have been mistaken for a Garbage cover band instead of the bubblegum-pop Danes we expected. Nevertheless, for what the show lacked in visuals, it more than made up in 90s club-kid energy.
The set was a mixture of crowd-rocking classics like ‘Barbie Girl’ and ‘Roses are Red’, and hits (and misses) from their new album. The Palace went wild during new tracks, ‘[Fuck me] Like a Robot’ and ‘Sucker for a Superstar [Starfucker!]’, while Aqua’s attempt at soul-searching, ‘My Mamma Said’, crashed and burned with most of the audience heading out for a cigarette after the opening chords. ‘Candyman’ had been given a grunge revamp, and had the entire theatre headbanging by the end.
Though the music was a bit all over the place, Aqua has lost none of the addictive Scandinavian energy that drew us in back in 1997. Frontwoman Lene Nystrøm spent the entire set gyrating, in black hotpants, all over the crowd and band. The mysterious guitarist, known only to us as ‘Glitter Beard’, was on more drugs than Charlie Sheen on a vision quest. From making out with the bass player during Candyman, to trying to cause his very own earthquake, he definitely stole the show.
The night climaxed (and so did a few of our neighbours) during the encore, when frontman René Dif appeared right in the middle of our group to sing the chorus of ‘Roses are Red’. Needless to say, the seven-year old girl in me lost her proverbial shit, which cast a bubblegum pink sheen over the entire evening.
All in all, though Aqua may never escape from the shadow of its 90s Europop success, they can still bring sparkly tears to the eyes of our Love Generation.