Forty years of ABBA

November 1 marks the fortieth anniversary of the first ever on-stage performance by the quartet Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.

After a couple of years of participating on each other’s records, including the first ever recording to feature all four –  especially the Björn and Benny song ”Hej gamle man!’ (Hey, old man) earlier in 1970, which became a big  hit  in Sweden – they decided to try a stage show together.

The cabaret show Festfolk, which could be translated as “party people” or “engaged couples”, both very apt names for the group,  featured the four singing songs and performing comedy skits.  The set list included songs from the four’s individual careers so far, some specially written songs, and a version of the hit ‘Hej gamle man!’

The show opened on November 1 1970 at the restaurant/club Trägår’n in Göteborg (Gothenburg). It moved to the Strand Cabaret in Stockholm in December, and also a short tour in Sweden in January and February.

Festfolk has gone down in ABBA history as one of the most famous, or should that be infamous, milestones. As well as being the first time all four performed on stage together, it was a certifiable flop, with the few patrons in the restaurant ignoring the show as they ate and drank the night away. Björn has said in many interviews that this event was when the group learned exactly what not to do, and it would be a long time until the four worked together again.

Unfortunately for us fans there are just a handful of photographs recording this event for posterity. Björn has said he’s very happy that there is no recording of the show.

ABBA was still long way off in the future. Two years later the group calling themselves Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid would record their first group single ‘People Need Love’. Another year until the first album Ring Ring. And another year after that until the group now called ABBA achieved their international breakthrough with ‘Waterloo’.

Further reading: ABBA wowed audiences with their first concert 40 years ago | Music This Week | Deutsche Welle

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2 Responses to “Forty years of ABBA”

  1. 305/365 Songs: SOS – Abba | Mark Pentleton Says:

    […] The reason I chose to play this song today is that today marks the 40th anniversary of the first live performance by Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvæus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson at the Festfolk på Trägård’n in Gothenburg. It was 2 or 3 years before they started calling themselves ABBA, and apparently the performance didn’t go too well, but it was also when the group apparently learned what not to do at a live event. There’s more info here. […]

  2. Samuel N.Inglles Says:

    I am 38 years old. It seems like ABBA is older than me too!

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