Pop, Jazz Reviews : Roxette Shows Added Dimension at Universal

When Marie Fredriksson, Roxette’s lead singer, was overpowering a series of air-headed pop songs on Friday at the Universal Amphitheatre, she was squandering her talents in pop’s low-rent district.

She’s clearly superior to Roxette’s uncomplicated, hook-crammed material--some of it bouncy, some of it melodramatic, all of it carefully crafted to sound appealing on radio. The Swedish duo of Fredriksson and singer-guitarist Per Gessle has developed a successful formula, resulting in a string of Top 10 hits including “The Look,” “Listen to Your Heart” and “It Must Have Been Love.”

On record, Fredriksson sounds like just another perky pop-rock vocalist, but at the Amphitheatre another Fredriksson emerged--a gutsy, robust singer who energized the tinkly pop tunes. Suddenly, that low-brow, thoroughly disposable pop had a little more backbone.

With a close-cropped, boyish hair-do and her lean, muscular figure squeezed into a skin-tight leather jumpsuit, the singer paraded around seductively, looking like a kinky leftover from a Madonna show. Her sexy look didn’t match the music, but the wholesome-looking audience, which seldom stopped shrieking, didn’t seem to mind.