Posts Tagged ‘Voyage’

ABBA Voyage – a concert like no other

9 June, 2022

Photo: 30 May

“People everywhere, a sense of expectation hanging in the air”

WARNING: this post contains major spoilers about ABBA Voyage, including the full set list.

As any reader of this blog would be aware. ABBA’s spectacular Voyage concert opened at the purpose-built ABBA Arena in London on Thursday 26 May to critical acclaim, fan rapture, and near universal five star reviews. And it brought ABBA together on the red carpet, and later for a brief appearance on stage.

Photo: @abbavoyage 26 May

I had intended to write this blog the day after the premiere, but between being overwhelmed by what I’d just seen, an extremely busy two weeks in the UK, and seeing the show several times from different viewpoints, it has taken till now to get it together.

ABBA Voyage defies description. It’s not a concert but it is. It’s not a sound and light experience yet it is. It’s definitely not old-style holograms.

Photo: 3 June

The avatars are seen on a screen that wraps around almost half of the arena. The illusion is amazing – the avatars look, move, and feel like the real ABBA. They interact with each other and also the audience with some pre-recorded dialogue. Most often they are portrayed life size, sometimes also projected in larger-than-life close-ups, just like any modern concert.

At times there are larger scale projections, which doesn’t actually detract from the conceit that the avatars are real. The entire arena is filled with lighting and sounds enveloping the entire space, not just focused on the stage. The arena is rarely fully dark, and seeing the rest of the audience becomes part of the experience.

Photo: 3 June
Photo: 4 June

The set list is a surprise, with several album tracks mixed in among the expected big ABBA hits. As announced last September, the first two new ABBA songs recorded in 2017, I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down, are a highlight.

Vocals are from ABBA’s original studio recordings, remixed at times. A few songs appear to feature live vocals from the 1977 and 1979 concerts (discussion is still ongoing in fan forums on exactly what vocals may be live). A major shock is the inclusion of the previously unreleased fourth verse of When All Is Said And Done. Another surprise is a choir that joins in at the end of The Winner Takes It All, which sings new lyrics to the backing vocal melody.

Music is provided by a ten piece band on stage, which gets its own feature spot during the show. Though personally while I think it is worthy to introduce the band to the audience, I feel this goes on half a song too long.

Photo: 30 May

I was lucky enough to see the show a total of six times from different locations in the arena, including opening night on May 26th and the first performance on the 27th. A couple of personal highlights: seeing Agnetha clapping along during Chiquitita, and watching the King and Queen of Sweden, plus their security and military escorts, up and dancing during Dancing Queen.

There really are no bad views, though if I were to suggest best locations it would be either dance floor, towards the centre but about halfway back from the stage, or the centre block of seats. What I found to be the worst spot was front and centre on the dance floor. Way too close, the avatars almost lose that sense of reality, while it’s impossible to see anything else in the arena without turning.

Photo: 3 June

Once the show has bedded in and proven to be a long-running hit, there is no reason that ABBA Voyage could not spread to other parts of the world. I think it would be the ideal show for Las Vegas, where artist residencies have been big for over a decade, and The Beatles Love with Cirque du Soleil (a spiritually similar show to Voyage) has been playing since 2006.

Hopefully some time in the near future the ABBA Voyage will be released on audio formats, so listeners around the world can experience the brilliant new arrangements of the songs.

Photo: 30 May

ABBA Voyage is amazing, brilliant, beguiling, astounding.

Tickets are now on sale to the end of May 2023 at abbavoyage.com

(more…)

Abba fans in London: Unreal to see the show

27 May, 2022
The Australian Abba fans at the newly built stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London are looking forward to the “Abba voyage”. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Among the thousands of Abba fans gathered in London, excitement is rising ahead of the premiere of “Abba voyage” – and the most faithful have travelled across half the globe to see the Abbatars on stage.

TT 08:01 – 26 May, 2022

“It feels unreal to finally see the show,” says Roxanne Dickson, who along with a group of Australian Abba fans meets TT’s emissaries in front of the stadium in east London.

Despite persistent rain, feverish activity is taking place in front of the newly built stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park area of east London, where a collection of construction workers are trying to make sure everything is in place ahead of the premiere of “Abba Voyage”.

Even a crowd of curious fans have gathered at the venue in the hope that a living member of the Swedish group will unannounced appear – and some of the fans who have come to the British capital to see the historic performance have travelled further than others.

Opposite the stadium, a group of Australian Abba fans have sought shelter from the rain – and despite the classic British weather, the mood in the group is at its peak.

For Roxanne Dickson, wearing a yellow t-shirt, adorned with the Abbas – also the owner of one of the world’s largest Abba collections – it was also obvious to travel to London – despite the long and expensive journey.

“Absolutely – and now it feels unreal to finally see the show. This is all a very emotional experience for me,” she told TT’s broadcaster.

Even for Ian Cole, who has written a book on Abbas’ songs, it was obvious to travel to London as soon as the news of the Abbatar show was released – but just going to a concert wasn’t enough for the Australian superfan.

“I’m going to see four shows, which I’m very much looking forward to. And it will be exciting to say the least to see how it turns out – we don’t know what awaits us,” he says.

Beloved in Australia

The Australian fan base gathered outside the stadium in east London is also a testament to the special standing Abba has in the country. Ever since the 1970s, the group in Australia has been loved by loyal fans, praised by the band Bjorn Again – who at their concerts play Abba songs in front of cheering fans – and celebrated every year during a multi-day festival in the small town of Trundle.

One reason for the love affair is Abbas’ legendary tour in 1977, when 160,000 people watched the 11 concerts the group performed over 13 intense days.

The tour’s most legendary gig was the so-called “rain concert” in Sydney, where a huge downpour, followed by a mass invasion of insects that caused Benny’s white piano by the end of the concert to be dyed black, did not prevent the group from playing in front of an audience of 30,000 people.

For Roxanne Dickson, who at the age of six was one of the spectators on that wet Sydney night, it is also extra emotional to soon see the Abobes in London – albeit in digital form.

“My mother, who was a big Abba fan, had taken out a loan to take me and my sisters to that concert. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and now it feels like being back there again,” she said.

“Have given me friendship!

Many of the motley group gathered outside the stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on this rainy May day also testify that the love for Abba is about so much more than just music.

Fans Louise, Cotton and David tell us that they met back in 1989 at a gig with Bjorn Again – and that they have since remained close friends.

And according to Cotton, who not only wears a T-shirt that reads “I love Abba,” but whose cap is also adorned with the group’s name, it’s also the friendship between the fans that makes Abba so unique.

“I’ve been longing for this concert for 40 years – and it feels great to experience it together with all these friends. Because Abba has given me friendships that last a lifetime,” she says.

“In other places, people look at me obliquely if I wear an Abba print t-shirt, but in Australia I’m always met with smiles. Because there we are not ashamed because we like music that makes you happy.

Roxanne Dickson is one of the Australian fans in London. “It’s going to be a very emotional experience,” she said. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Ian Cole is set to see four of the performances of “Abba voyage.” “I hope to hear both the biggest hits and more unknown songs,” he says. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
The Australian fans testify to how much Abba means to them. “We have a special relationship with Abba,” Cotton said. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Facts: Abbas’ relationship with Australia

Abbas’ 1977 tour of Australia began the country’s special relationship with the Swedish group. In her autobiography, Agnetha Fältskog has described the experience: “There was fever and hysteria. There was an ovation and sweaty and obsessive crowds. Sometimes it was horrible. I felt like the audience could grab me never to let me go.”

The 90s films “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Muriel’s Wedding” gave the relationship a revival.

In “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” three drag queens embark on a tour in a ratty bus in the Australian wasteland, delivering Abba interpretations in front of a not infrequently unsympathetic audience.

In “Muriel’s Wedding” from the same year, Toni Collette’s awkward Abba fan delivers lines like: “Now my life is as good as an Abba song. As good as ‘Dancing queen'”.

In the Australian resort of Trundle in New South Wales with about 600 inhabitants, an Abba festival has been held since 2012. The event attracts thousands of people every year, many wearing classic Abba outfits, who participate in singing competitions, party and listen to bands such as the Australian cover band Bjorn Again.

Source: Abbafans i London: Overkligt att se showen

Meet Australia’s biggest ABBA fans who are preparing for the event of a lifetime – the first ‘concert’ in more than 40 years

5 May, 2022

This week 7 News Australia published a story on Australian fans who are travelling to London for the opening of the ABBA Voyage concert later this month, including yours truly.

Read the story here.

No Doubt About It – radio date 11/02/2022

7 February, 2022

No Doubt About It

ABBA

Universal

Radio Date: 11/02/2022

ABBA

NOMINATED FOR ‘BEST INTERNATIONAL GROUP’ AT THIS YEAR’S BRIT AWARDS, THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE OPENING OF THE ‘ABBA VOYAGE’ TOUR,

 

ON THE RADIO WITH THE NEW SINGLE
“NO DOUBT ABOUT IT”
FROM THE RECORD-BREAKING ALBUM “VOYAGE”



The legendary Swedish band ABBA on the radio with the new single “NO DOUBT ABOUT IT”, available for radio rotation from Friday 11 February.

Excerpted from “Voyage”, the group’s latest studio album, “NO DOUBT ABOUT IT” is a lively song punctuated by clapping, with a powerful bass and 80s synthesizers. The single immediately begins with a strong and memorable chorus (“I made a mess, okay / And there’s no doubt”).

Frida Lyngstad, one of ABBA’s lead-singers, says: “NO DOUBT ABOUT IT could be about me and my beloved, in general any relationship to watch with a little humor. You’ll definitely come out with a smile.”

After what was one of the biggest and most anticipated returns in history, ABBA’s first album in 40 years, “Voyage, released on November 5, 2021, went straight to #1 in 18 countries including the UK, Germany, Australia and Sweden and reached #2 on the US Billboard 200. In its first week, “Voyage” achieved worldwide sales of more than 1 million copies and received more than 275 million total streams to date.

ABBA are nominated for “International Group of the Year” at the 2022 BRIT Awards and received their first Grammy nomination for “Record of the Year” for the single “I Still Have Faith In You”.

On May 27, “ABBA Voyage” opens, the revolutionary concert tour that will see Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid as digital avatars in their purpose-built “ABBA Arena” at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, with a lineup of abba’s big hits and songs from their new album Voyage.

Eleonora Fusi (Universal)

Source: ABBA “No Doubt About It” | (Radio Date: 11/02/2022)

Little Things

4 December, 2021

“If you sing along it could be a song that my grandma sings”

Little Things for Christmas

22 November, 2021

“Little things like that happy noise”

A fourth single from Voyage, ‘Little Things’, will be released on 3 December, just in time for Christmas. See the List of Voyage releases for availability.

In addition, there is a new range of ‘Little Things’ Christmas themed merch available.

Voyage – a quick review

6 November, 2021

“It will be in prose that chimes with me”

First impressions of the ten tracks in ABBA’s new album Voyage.

1. I Still Have Faith In You

Glorious, majestic, emotional, melancholy, joyous. We heard this one on the Voyage launch in September. It sounds like a culmination of what Benny, Frida, Agnetha, and Björn have been doing since 1982. The lyric is about ABBA reuniting after so many years – do they have it in them? They do!

2. When You Danced With Me

Frida and Agnetha lead us on a Celtic dance. ABBA’s ‘Safety Dance’? Shades of ‘The Piper’. This will be popular at ABBA dance parties from now till the end of time.

3. Little Things

A gentle song from Frida about Christmas morning, parents staying in bed before the children wake up to open their presents. A little hint at ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ between verses. Ends with a verse by a children’s choir. A nice touch. Not the future Christmas number one people have been anticipating.

4. Don’t Shut Me Down

The lyric could be about either the avatars or ABBA themselves reunited. Or both. Another one we first heard in September. Agnetha leads. Hints of ABBA-esque motifs throughout.

5. Just A Notion

The vocals were originally recorded in 1978. We heard a half of this in ‘ABBA Undeleted’ on the Thank You For The Music box set in 1994. The boogie-woogie piano backing is all new (I miss the electric piano in the original though). Björn says this gives an idea of what the Voyage avatar concert will be like, with original ABBA vocals and a live band. This came out in late October as another taster for the album.

6. I Could Be That Woman

The story of a woman suffering addiction trying to reconcile with her man, while the dog tries to calm things between them. An unusual subject choice for ABBA. A slow, almost soft-country ballad. Agnetha sings “screw you”.

7. Keep An Eye On Dan

A burst of 80s synth-pop-rock. Another song to join the ranks of ABBA’s divorce classics, sung by Agnetha. A woman drops off her son with her ex-husband for the weekend, and warns the father to keep an eye on their troublesome son Dan. Björn and Benny pop in with a backing line towards the end, reminiscent of ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’. Ends with an “easter egg” you’re sure to spot.

8. Bumblebee

A gentle ballad from Frida about the state of the world and the affects of climate change. What happens if the bees disappear? Thoughtful. The song opens with ‘Fernando’-like flutes. Not a revamped version of the demo ‘Free As A Bumblebee’.

9. No Doubt About It

A rocky one from Frida, from the point of view of a woman who has “messed up” her relationship. An early stand-out track. Ends with the line “this isn’t where it ends”. No it’s not, there’s one more song to go.

10. Ode To Freedom

An ode not to freedom itself but about creating a song that can be an ode to freedom (like ‘King Kong Song’ and ‘I Let The Music Speak’ it’s a song about itself). Frida sings in low register and Agnetha sings an octave above. There’s a very strong classical influence. A beautiful, mournful, majestic ending to the album (and to ABBA). It will make you cry.

Overall verdict: there’s not a bad song on the album. Early favourites are ‘I Still Have Faith In You’, ‘When You Danced With Me’, ‘Keep An Eye On Dan’, ‘No Doubt About It’, and ‘Ode To Freedom’.

Listen to Voyage now Amazon Music Apple Music iTunes Spotify YouTube YouTube

Go to ABBA Omnibus for a detailed feature on all things Voyage. Click on the four eclipses icon.

Just a notion, that’s all

22 October, 2021

“We’ll be dancing through the night”

Just A Notion – new single

19 October, 2021

‘Just A Notion’ from ABBA’s new album Voyage will be released on CD single and digital services on Friday 22 October. Fans will recognise the song, which was recorded in August 1978 but not released. A 1.38 excerpt was released in the ‘ABBA Undeleted’ medley of outtakes on the Thank You For The Music box set in 1994.

Preorder or presave here. Listen to a 30 second sample on TikTok. Find all the Voyage releases here.

(It still feels weird talking about new ABBA singles and album in 2021)

In search of ABBA Voyage

9 September, 2021

Are you having trouble keeping track of the ABBA Voyage releases on various formats and configurations? We’ve put together a list of them all including sources for limited editions.

http://www.abbaomnibus.net/news/abbavoyagelist.htm (updated 13 June 2022)


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