With an already large and quickly growing contingent of Melodifestivalen fans in the UK, London's Royal Vauxhall Tavern was packed out last night as crowds flocked to see Swedish schlager superstar Linda Bengtzing as part of the Eurofest club night.
The 40-year-old legend reached the Melodifestivalen final with her first four entries, the legendary Alla Flickor (2005) and Jag Ljuger Så Bra (2006) and the energetic fan favourites Hur Svårt Kan Det Va? (2008) and E Det Fel Pa Mej (2011). Her 2014 effort, the rockier electro-popper Ta Mig, memorably fell in the fourth semi-final to Alcazar's Blame It On The Disco in a nail-biting 'direkt to final or bust' scenario. Nevertheless Linda wheeled all five of her Melodifestivalen entries out to a delighted crowd, with a surprising number singing along to every Swedish word. She even brought along her iconic costume from the Melodifestivalen performance of Alla Flickor!
Outside of the competition, Linda's other hits include a number of collaborations and with that in mind, she brought along a fantastic backing singer and duet partner named Christina Lootus. Christina treated the crowd to renditions of Swedish Eurovision winners Take Me To Your Heaven and Euphoria while Linda had a quick change mid-show out of her legendary orange threads and into something more casual.
Of the said duets, the first we got to hear was the incredible Värsta Schlagern, a famous Melodifestivalen parody that was a huge No.1 single in Sweden in 2007. Previously a duet with Markoolio, Christina filled his shoes admirably. The same can be said for her parts in the performances of Victorious, Linda's 2010 collaboration with Velvet, and Not That Kinda Girl, Linda's 2009 duet with Kim Lian. Both top drawer pop songs that I had admittedly forgotten about but rest assured I'll be dusting them both off to listen to on repeat all over again.
So a hit packed show and one with great energy and powerful vocals and stage presence, from both Linda and Christina, from start to finish. The pair seemed to be having such a fantastic time that they seemed reluctant to leave and treated the crowd to a couple of bonus songs after the official encore of Jag Ljuger Så Bra. A crowd-assisted singalong of Helena Paparizou's Eurovision winner My Number One and a reprise of E Det Fel På Mej rounded off the hour long schlager spectacular.
A delight throughout, Linda was full of jokes and anecdotes for the crowd and showed off the fantastic personality that has made her so well loved in Sweden. It's a wonder that she's yet to finish above fifth in the Melodifestivalen final because she's the complete package; she has the voice, the personality, the sense of humour and the stage presence. Here's hoping that one day she'll follow in the footsteps of Sanna Nielsen and finally get her chance to shine on the main stage.