March 3rd marks a significant anniversary for me. In 1977 on this day, I saw ABBA live on stage at their legendary first Australian concert in Sydney.
I feel thrilled to have been at the most famous concert of ABBA’s career. It’s the one concert that the ABBA members have all said they remember.
Its inclusion in ABBA – The Movie ensured its place in history. Not just ABBA history, but also the history of Sydney. After this and other rained-out concerts, government enquiries were held and large-scale indoor venues were finally built in Sydney.
I have some great memories of that night. Waiting in the grandstand for the concert to start, getting wet regardless of the shelter. The guy who kept announcing “you’re gonna get your rocks off!”. The immense noise from the crowd as ABBA took to the stage. The strobe-like effect of thousands of camera flashes for the first ten minutes. The reaction from the audience singing along to ‘Fernando’, and Björn saying everyone sang so well that “we’d like you to come backstage after the show so we can shake your hands and sign you up”. The fire projected on the back wall of the stage during ‘Fernando’ and the silhouette of a palm tree during ‘Sitting In The Palmtree’. Selected parts of ‘I Am An A’ (Björn: “I don’t like to shave”, Agnetha: “you should live in a cave”). ‘So Long’ not being performed. Björn announcing a song for “you to get up and dance to”. The fireworks at the end spelling out “Thank You Sydney – ABBA”.
I missed Frida’s famous slip during ‘Waterloo’ due to a momentary distraction. And my memories of the mini-musical “The Girl With The Golden Hair” aren’t as clear as other parts of the concert, probably because the songs were unknown. It seemed to me that ‘I’m A Marionette’ went on for 15 minutes. Now I know that it was reprised near the end of ‘Get On The Carousel’.
Some memories have been diluted by repeated viewings of ABBA – The Movie and listening to bootleg concert tapes. But others remain as clear as they were 31 (!) years ago.
The photo above right was one that I took of the stage and arena from our vantage point in the grandstand. See here for an exclusive gallery of photos from that night. And visit my site The ABBA Phenomenon in Australia for everything about ABBA’s Australian tour of 1977.
See also: That’s me