The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Culture - By Na­dine McBay

The Cardi­gans De­cem­ber 4 O2 Academy Glas­gow

Swedish five-piece The Cardi­gans were ev­ery­where 20 years ago. Cen­tre­piece of the sound­track to Baz Luhrmann’s Shake­spearean smash Romeo And Juliet, their song Love­fool had flung them from a mod­estly-suc­cess­ful indie band to a pop act with global reach – a position reaf­firmed with the track’s in­clu­sion in late 1990s teen megahits Bev­erly Hills 90210 and the movie Cruel In­ten­tions.

An Agnetha from ABBA re­cast for the era of the Spice Girls, singer Nina Pers­son looked out from mil­lions of TV screens. Non­cha­lant, quirky, cute, she was the poster girl to her band of nerdy muso boys.

Some re­view­ers had called the song, re­leased on 1996 al­bum Last Band On The Moon, “bub­blegum”.

It was a char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion they felt alien­ated by, says Pers­son, who leads the orig­i­nal, 15-mil­lion-sell­ing band again this week at Glas­gow’s O2 Academy as part of a tour re­vis­it­ing 1998 al­bum Gran Turismo in its en­tirety.

“We were set up to al­ways have this image that we didn’t con­nect with; to al­ways be about this one song,” Pers­son says from her home in Malmo. “But with Gran Turismo we changed. We wanted to em­pha­sise the other di­men­sions of what we did, to show that Love­fool wasn’t all that we were. We stayed truer to our­selves by do­ing that, I think.”

Fea­tur­ing hits Hang­ing Around, Erase/Rewind and My Favourite Game, Gran Turismo was more oblique and self-aware, the band’s pre­vi­ous warmth cooled by elec­tron­ics and dis­tor­tion. Com­ment­ing at the time, Pers­son said the record’s ti­tle was in tune with its lyri­cal themes of “be­ing in a tourist in the world” and “try­ing to find your place”.

“It was not a great time, at least not for my­self,” she says to­day. “I couldn’t han­dle all the tour­ing, all the work that came with Last Band On The Moon. We went straight from do­ing all that to work­ing on Gran Turismo.

“I felt lost and con­fused and worn out. The mak­ing of the record felt cathar­tic, it felt good to ex­press our darker side.”

The Gran Turismo part of of the show will be “full im­mer­sion in the late 1990s”, Pers­son says, be­fore a sec­ond set of songs from The Cardi­gans’ back cat­a­logue.

“It’s go­ing to be a fairly solid ex­pe­ri­ence of Gran Turismo,” she says. “Then, in case you get sick of that for 45 min­utes, we’ll do an­other set more

re­flec­tive of that wider ex­pe­ri­ence. We don’t play songs that are su­per-old any more though; there are some records we can hardly rep­re­sent – they re­ally aged on us.”

In con­trast, Gran Turismo and its two mel­lower mid-2000s pre­de­ces­sors Long Gone Be­fore Day­light and Su­per Extra Grav­ity “still feel cur­rent”, says Pers­son, not­ing that the last time she played in Scot­land she was pro­mot­ing Colo­nia, her 2009 solo al­bum.

Rather than work­ing on new mu­sic, in re­cent years Pers­son has shifted fo­cus to the the­atre as creative di­rec­tor of the Cit­i­zens’ Band, a po­lit­i­cal cabaret act which ex­plores ideas around cit­i­zen­ship and democ­racy. In the run-up to Swe­den’s gen­eral elec­tion in Septem­ber, their show The Win­ner Takes All toured across the coun­try.

Though th­ese mod­ern-day gigs are en­joy­able, get­ting to­gether to write a new Cardi­gans al­bum would “feel like a back­ward step”, she says.

“We’re all in dif­fer­ent places” says Pers­son. “Peter [Svens­son], who writes the mu­sic, lives in LA and Stock­holm. We’ve talked about it and we’ve de­cided that we are not go­ing to work on an­other record with other song­writ­ers, be­cause then we might as well start a new band.

“But I don’t think we will do one ei­ther. I’m not swear­ing on that, though.”

Pic­ture: Getty

The Swedish singer, mu­si­cian and song­writer Nina Pers­son of The Cardi­gans

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