Benny Andersson Band in London

BennyLast Saturday I was lucky enough to be in London to attend the first London performance of the Benny Andersson Band (aka Benny Anderssons Orkester, aka BAO).

BAB was performing in Hampstead Heath as part of Sweden on Stage, a concert to commemorate Sweden taking over the Presidency of the European Union.

The afternoon featured several Swedish acts (and a couple of non-Swedish acts) leading up to the headline act in the evening.

Seeing Benny Andersson Band on stage is a rare treat. There is nothing fancy, just some “middle aged men”, as Benny described them, who enjoy playing music and playing together. And Benny obviously enjoys it – a beaming smile hardly ever left his face.

BAB’s repertiore is wide and varied, from the Swedish folk styles and big band music that the band is famous for, to evergreens, rock and roll, classical music, and even a few ABBA songs – on this evening they performed ‘Hasta Mañana’, ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’, and the concert-closer ‘Why Did It Have To Be Me’.

Benny Andersson Band also has a new CD out now, Story Of A Heart, featuring several instrumentals from their previous Swedish-release CDs plus English-language versions of Swedish vocal tracks and the all-new title track.

For more eyewitness accounts see Benny Andersson Band in London – I was there… | icethesite

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8 Responses to “Benny Andersson Band in London”

  1. Tony Rogers Says:

    Hi Ian.

    You lucky lad!

    I recently contacted the Swedish Consulate in Sydney to see if they would ever consider to bring out BAB/BAO like the Swedish Embassy co-organised for this performance in London. The woman said they think it’d be great if BAB/BAO did come out here, but unfortunately they didn’t have the budget to afford to do so, though they’d assist any event groups who looked at bringing BAB/BAO out here.

    So, then I contacted ‘Sydney Festival’ (via their website), and asked about the possibility of them bringing BAB/BAO out here, suggesting that The Domain would be a perfect outdoor venue (using the stage that is also used for the ‘Symphony Under The Stars’ concerts), plus they could perhaps also have official concerts at places like The State Theatre or the Opera House. I also mentioned that it would surely be a successful venture, given that the ebbing-and-flowing ABBA revival is still around, and that the Mamma Mia stage-musical was going to be touring Australia again… thus there would be plenty of interest. Unfortunately, the person who responded didn’t bother to note that I was suggesting BAB/BAO for their program, and instead, she sent me a link for people trying to get their own gig into the Festival.

    I wonder if we could do an e-petition to Benny or Görel, to hint for BAB/BAO to come out to Australia (and remind Benny of yachting in Sydney Harbour ;o) ? Plus, undoubtedly, there would be just as much interest from the other cities.

    Cheers. I hope you have a good trip back.

  2. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/bizarre/2520301/Benny-Andersson-treats-locals-to-Abba-performance-in-London-pub.html?OTC-RSS&ATTR=Bizarre

    A Man Walks into ABBA

    Published: 07 Jul 2009

    ABBA hits regularly get an airing in the nation’s boozers on a Saturday night.
    But not usually from one of the men who wrote them.

    So regulars in North London boozer The Queensbury, in Willesden, were left choking on their Carlsbergs when BENNY ANDERSSON turned up for a jam.

    Fresh from performing with his Benny Andersson Band on nearby Hampstead Heath, the Swedish pop legend and his 15 bandmates popped in for a bite.

    But they couldn’t resist playing songs including Abba classics, DEEP PURPLE’s Smoke On The Water and songs from his new album Story Of A Heart.

    Hope they thanked him for the music.

  3. Samuel Inglles Says:

    YouTube – ABBA’s Benny and Bjorn Rate Meryl Streep’s Singing!ABBA’s Benny and Bjorn Rate Meryl Streep’s Singing! … “Mamma Mia!” press conference in Stockholm – part 1 … 1:51. Abba Reunion. 193874 views …
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa6qZqNjtYo – Similar

  4. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/sweden/776/

    Abba-Benny’s new horse
    Benny Andersson of ABBA-fame has bought a new horse for 8 million SEK. He bought it at the British Tattersalls, auctioneers of racehorses. The horse has of yet no name, but rest assured his name will not be ABBA. Whether or not he will be a good racehorse remains to be seen, it takes about a year to tell. Benny Andersson’s stable is called Chess Racing and he’s had some great racehorses like Vigelere, Sibelius, and Jungo.

  5. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/a162934/andersson-mama-mia-was-surreal.html

    Andersson: ‘Mama Mia! was surreal’
    Wednesday, July 1 2009, 12:40 BST

    By Mayer Nissim, Entertainment Reporter

    WENN
    Benny Andersson has said that it was surreal to watch famous actors singing his songs for the soundtrack of Mamma Mia!.

    The former Abba songwriter told Metro that he and ex-bandmate Björn Ulvaeus had a unique experience seeing the likes of Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth performing their hits.

    Andersson said: “It was probably the most surreal moment of my life. Björn and I were on one side of the studio and on the other side were James Bond and Mr Darcy singing the chorus to ‘Waterloo’.

    “They were probably thinking: ‘What am I doing here?'”

    Andersson and Ulvaeus recently unveiled their first co-written pop songs as a partnership for over 15 years.

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/a106630/abba-star-praises-brosnans-vocal-skills.html

    Abba star praises Brosnan’s vocal skills
    Thursday, July 3 2008, 07:28 BST

    By Alex Fletcher, Senior Entertainment Reporter

    Abba’s Benny Andersson has claimed that Pierce Brosnan is “great” in the new Mamma Mia! movie.

    The songwriter, 61, said he was annoyed by criticism of the former James Bond actor, arguing that people are judging him with too high standards.

    “Everybody complains that Pierce can’t sing and it p***** me off,” he told The Sun. “I think he has a great voice.

    “He couldn’t sing ‘Nessun Dorma’ but neither could I – and I was in Abba. It’s like saying Bob Dylan can’t sing.”

    Andersson also claimed that he would be happy to participate in an Abba reunion as long as it was behind closed doors.

    He added: “We never sing our stuff together. But I do think we should all secretly get together and sing all our songs that we ever recorded, the four of us, with a bottle of champagne and no one else.”

  6. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2009/07_july/03/ross.shtml

    Press ReleasesBenny Andersson joins Jonathan Ross on BBC One
    Date: 03.07.2009
    Category: TV Entertainment; BBC One
    Jonathan Ross welcomes ABBA maestro Benny Andersson to this week’s Friday Night With Jonathan Ross on BBC One.

    Benny says, despite press rumours, they won’t be taking over Michael Jackson dates at the O2: “No-one’s asked us, and if they did we wouldn’t say yes.”

    But he refuses to rule out a reunion: “But never say never.”

    Jonathan joins him for an impromptu ABBA singalong.

    In an exclusive TV interview Emma Watson said she hated her long-anticipated screen kiss with fellow Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint: “I pounced on him, I was so desperate to get it over with.”

    She didn’t think she’d ever be Hermione: “By the time I got to audition, I was in pieces, I didn’t know I had the part.”

    And she denies she missed out on childhood: “I never felt like I was missing out… we were able to be kids because we were together, whatever weird thing we were doing.”

    Emma confirms her future lies in acting: “Definitely… I’m so excited about going to university but it doesn’t mean to say I can’t do something else, I want to have my cake and eat it… I’d like to try comedy.”

    But she says she is scared of Harry Potter fans.

    ABBA fan Sandra Bullock denies she’s had plastic surgery: “I was accused of it [but] no-one has asked me to alter my appearance.”

    She thinks Hugh Grant should be a novelist: “He’s too smart to be an actor, he should write a great novel.”

    A Hotsauce TV production for BBC One.

    Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, BBC One, 10.35pm, Friday 3 July 2009

    Notes to Editors
    These quotes are taken verbatim from a studio recording and may not necessarily reflect the content of the final transmitted version of the programme.

    JP

  7. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/music/gig-23413669-details/Benny+Andersson+Band/gigReview.do?reviewId=23715903

    Benny Andersson Band
    Your rating

    Click on a star to rate Parliament Hill Bandstand
    Hampstead Heath,

    John Aizlewood’s rating
    Reader rating
    Benny Andersson Band return to pre-Abba days
    By John Aizlewood, Evening Standard 06.07.09

    Having co-written the 380-million-selling Abba canon — unquestionably the finest but secretly among the darkest in pop — Benny Andersson has nothing to prove.

    More than a quarter of a century on, nobody understands this more than Andersson himself.

    Hence, the eight-years-old Benny Andersson Band who made their English debut with a 150-minute free show in celebration of Sweden’s ascension to the European Union presidency, before a healthy proportion of London’s 50,000-strong Swedish community.

    Andersson’s beard, haircut and teddy bear shape remain but those who had brought their Abba banners were sorely disappointed by the 16-strong ensemble offering mostly traditional Swedish folk in the vein of Andersson’s pre-Abba Hep Stars.

    Helped immeasurably by two delightfully bickering singers, the feisty Helen Sjöholm and the crumpled but droll (“don’t go to bed as enemies; stay up and fight”) Tommy Körberg, this meant a slew of polkas, accordion-led waltzes, a lovely Moon River and snatches of Bach and Shostakovich.

    Versions of Roll Out The Barrel and O, Sole Mio were as unspeakably hideous in practice as they are in theory but the ferocious, xylophone-led Jehu and the Swedish folk tune När Tvenne Hjärtan Sla were unspeakably jolly. Tellingly, the highlights were the Abba-esque divorce epic (“there’ll be a van …”) Fait Accompli and the Abba-esque surge that was Story Of A Heart, both, far from coincidentally, co-written by Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, Abba’s songwriting team.

    And what of the elephant in the room? After two hours and 28 songs, Hasta Mañana appeared. I Do, I Do, I Do and Why Did It Have To Be Me? followed (hardly Abba gold but delivered with life-enhancing oomph) eventually followed, as did the sense of how a more liberal sprinkling of Abba and less rolling out of any wretched barrels would have made for a special occasion.

    Nothing to prove: Andersson’s beard, haircut and teddy bear shape remain

    Go to this link to see Benny photos:

    http://www.last.fm/music/Benny+Andersson/+images

  8. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://www.thecnj.com/camden/2009/070909/news070909_04.html

    Camden News – by JOSH LOEB
    Published: 9 July 2009

    Benny Andersson on stage
    Heath show goes like Swede dream

    Abba star plays free gig on the Heath to delight hundreds of fans in sunshine

    DANCING was the name of the game on Hampstead Heath on Saturday as thousands flocked to Parliament Hill to see Abba’s Benny Andersson.

    The Scandinavian supertrouper had fans waltzing on a makeshift dancefloor as he played Swedish ballads and Abba hits including the 1975 chart-topper I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do.

    The gig, which is set to go down in Heath legend as the biggest since Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane played there in 1966, was held to mark the start of Sweden’s EU presidency.

    Meatballs and prawn burgers were sold as yellow and blue Swedish flags flew proudly and storytellers read from Pippi Longstocking books.

    A crazy golf course created from Ikea furniture helped transform the area around the bandstand into a surreal outpost of Stockholm for the day.

    Supporting Benny were fellow countrymen and women including Sofia Jannok, a singer from Samiland, 100 kilometres above the arctic circle, who specialises in “yoiking”, a type of yodelling. English musicians, including Shlomo, a “human beatbox” whose vocal gymnastics produce the sounds of snare drums and cymbals, also performed.

    But Benny, whose set lasted for close to three hours, was the star of the event and his performance of a new song, Story of My Heart, which was co-written with Abba bandmate Björn Ulvaeus, drew loud applause from the crowd.

    … No thanks for music from some

    WHILE Abba star Benny Andersson drew huge crowds to Parliament Hill Fields, not everyone was thrilled by the chance to see a pop legend for free.

    At around 4.30am on Saturday morning a technical problem meant the giant sound system on the stage was producing waves of electrical feedback that woke people up living near by in Lissenden Gardens and Brookfield Mansions. One disgruntled resident went out at daybreak to find a technician to turn the system off.

    The resident, who did not want to be named, cycled up the Heath to find out what the noise was. He said: “It was like Jimi Hendrix had fired his amp’ up in the middle of the night right by my head. I was furious.”

    Others complained that the noise ruined the weekend, and that the Heath had been taken over by multi-national companies trying to flog their products. They said they were disgusted by the corporate nature of the event and felt it went against the ethos of the Heath. The show had been sponsored by a host of Swedish companies including furniture store Ikea and their logos were emblazoned across the area.
    Actor Matthew Dexter, who lives in Lissenden Gardens, said: “This was like an oil slick – it was a noise slick.”

    But Jeremy Wright, of the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee, said: “It was great to see so many having a great time. I live only 100 yards away and was hardly aware of the festival from my garden. When I visited the area at 9.30am on Sunday, the only evidence that there had been such a big event the previous evening was flattened grass and a team of exhausted chaps.”

    Bad Ikea? Wave bags for Benny

    THERE were two events for those who basked in the Saturday sun for Sweden on stage at the weekend.

    The Nordic nation is now in charge of Europe, taking over the six-month presidency of the EU. More importantly for music fans, was a free open-air set by former Abba member Benny Andersson.

    Prior to the bearded 62-year-old’s arrival on stage, fair-haired girls handed out Swedish flags, which doubled up as flyers for his new Story of a Heart album. In true, Proms style, the Parliament Hill set duly obliged as Andersson returned to his country’s Volk roots – roots which somehow did not seem at odds with the more modern face of Sweden, furniture chain Ikea (who else?) and Swedish mineral water producers providing low-key sponsorship. Even the free blue Ikea bags were waved for Andersson’s Orkestra, complete with piccolos and tubas.

    Sweden’s UK representatives drove home their green message, but this throng of Abba devotees and Swedish expats were really only here for the jovial Benny, even if that was Benny ‘Accordion’ Andersson. Nevertheless, Abba fans were finally rewarded with a rousing I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do.

    Earlier, there were short sets from Swedish Sami-language singer Sofia Jannok and Stockholm singer-songwriter Miss Li’s Tori Amos-inspired tinkling of the ivories went down well.

    With the environment on Sweden’s agenda for the remainder of 2009, a few token recycling bins come picnic-debris time would not have gone amiss.

    RUSSELL HANDY

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