London (dpa) – .
It’s almost .00 o’clock when it gets particularly loud in the Abba Arena. The show is barely over when the approximately 3000 spectators in the newly built, state-of-the-art hall in London experience a historic moment.
Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Frida enter the stage together to great applause and loud cheers – for the first time since 40 years. The short Abba reunion is an emotional moment for many fans. But many already had tears in their eyes.
“Abba-tare” are on stage
Nach After five years of production, “Abba Voyage” celebrated its world premiere on Thursday. In the approximately 100 minute concert show, however, the live Abba members are not on stage, but their “Abba-tare” – fully animated, digitally rejuvenated versions of the quartet im 70s look, accompanied by a live band of ten. State-of-the-art technology from Industrial Light & Magic, the company of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, made it possible.
The unusual begins with “The Visitors” and “Hole In Your Sole”. Concert a bit tough. But on a gigantic screen with 40 million pixels, it really looks like the young Abba members are live on stage. Only in the close-ups, as you know them from real stadium and hall concerts, do you occasionally recognize the digital. “SOS” gets the party going in East London.
Lots of celebrities in the audience
Located in front of the stage a dance floor, further back there are seats. King Carl XVI of Sweden rocks on the grandstand. Gustaf enthusiastic. With his wife Silvia he took a seat in the middle of the audience. Later they both get up and dance.
In the crowd are pop star Kylie Minogue, pulp singer Jarvis Cocker, crooner Wencke Myhre, supermodel Kate Moss and London Mayor Sadiq Khan as well as the real Abba- members. Agnetha (72) follows the show tensely at first, but then sings along several times. At “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” she smiles at band colleague Frida (76) who is sitting behind her.
In between every “Abba-tar” has one solo performance. “I’m the real Benny. I’m just very good looking for my age,” says digital Benny to laughter from the audience. “Our last concert in London was 1979. If I had been asked at the time whether we would 2022 perform here again, I would have said yes .”
Hardly any of the spectators saw the group that split up 1982 live, including the president of the fan club “Abba Intermezzo ” not, Regina Grafunder came from Germany. “The show was absolutely gigantic,” she enthuses. “It was so real, you felt like you were transported back to the 70 years – only with new costumes and also with songs that they even played at the concerts back then didn’t sing.”
In fact, “Abba Voyage” features some lesser-known songs. But as expected, hits like “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Chiquitita” or “Fernando” create the most atmosphere – and emotional reactions in the Abba Arena. Many cannot hide their tears at so much poignant nostalgia.
The vocals are from the tape, from the old Abba studio recordings and from “Voyage”, the first Abba studio album since 40 years. Ulvaeus (76) said in the dpa interview that the “old voices” were so well integrated into the sound that it felt “rather live”. He didn’t promise too much. The combination of the vocal tracks of the perfectly harmonizing female singers with the live band works.
And it just looks spectacular. “I actually see myself in the digital figure,” says singer Agnetha. “It’s absurd, but it’s real.” The company Industrial Light & Magic did a great job. Thousands of old 35mm negatives of the band and countless hours of concert footage and TV appearances were scanned and analyzed. Hair, fingernails, make-up – every detail should be right. The digital outfits in the 70s look come from several top designers, including Dolce & Gabbana.
In the end they are in each other’s arms
The two new songs “Don’t Shut Me Down” and “I Still Have Faith In You” will also be in celebrated in London. The only drawback of the show are two songs that don’t feature the band, but cartoons. A reason for many visitors to get a beer.
When “Thank You For The Music” is played in the last third of the show, many viewers turn to the stands to applaud their idols. Before the Eurovision winning song “Waterloo” is played, Björn reminds that Great Britain gave the Swedes zero points. Joking boos can be heard in the hall.
Total 20 songs gets the audience at Listen to Abba Voyage. The show comes to an end with “Dancing Queen” and “The Winner Takes It All”. The applause in the Abba Arena goes on for a long time and gets louder as the real Abba members take the stage together for what may be the last time. Benny, Björn and especially Agnetha and Frida are visibly touched and hug each other. 40 Years after their last joint appearance, the cult surrounding the legendary Swedish pop band is unbroken. (dpa)