ABBA show “Voyage” premieres in London


The fans had to wait 40 years for a comeback. Now the Swedish cult band is returning to the stage with the live show “ABBA Voyage”. Just different than what music fans are used to.

Like in a time machine: ABBA 2022

“It was just magical. It really, really worked!” A happy Björn Ulvaeus said after the preview in London. “The audience allows themselves to be in this fantasy world for a while and they see the avatars as living beings,” he tells DW. Ulvaeus speaks of the first virtual live concert in music history – ABBA have returned to the stage.

Agnetha, Björn, Benny  and Anni-Frid seem miraculously rejuvenated – as if they were in a time machine from the late 1970s jumped to 2022.

Not an avatar, but real: Björn Ulvaeus

Of course, these are not the real ABBA members, but “ABBAatare”, digital holograms of the famous Swedish pop band.

But thanks to sophisticated technology, they are amazingly realistic. For five weeks, the four band members performed each of the 20 old songs in front of 160 cameras so that every movement could be recorded. To do this, the Swedes, who are now over 70 years old, were put into special wired suits.

Possibly authentic concert and live feeling

ABBA have put together the biggest hits of their careers for the 100-minute show. The setlist also includes new songs from their album Voyage, released in September, including the singles “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don't Shut Me Down”.

    < li class="first"> ABBA forever!

    The end of the ABBA break

    Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson had not worked together in the studio for almost 40 years. A new album, “Voyage”, was released in 2021 – it was a sensational comeback. From May 2022 they will be on display in an impressive show in London – as digital holograms.

  • ABBA forever!

    Winner with ABBA at the 1974 Grand Prix

    ABBA's success story began with the song “Waterloo” at the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Brighton in 1974. Together, the four triggered an “ABBAmania” in the eight years of their band's existence. To date, the band is estimated to have sold more than 380 million records.

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    ABBA created world hits

    A year before their ESC participation, ABBA failed with the song “Ring Ring” in the Swedish preselection. The joy of winning was all the greater with “Waterloo” written by Benny Andersson (on the left in the picture). Numerous other hits followed and continue to be played on the radio to this day, including “Dancing Queen”, “Money, Money, Money”, “Super Trouper” and “The Winner Takes It All”.

  • ABBA forever!

    ABBA concerts worldwide

    In 1977 ABBA went on their first world tour with concerts in Europe and Australia, where they had many fans. In the same year “ABBA – The Movie” also celebrated its world premiere in Australia. The group later performed for a good cause, such as at the 1979 UN General Assembly in New York (photo). The proceeds from the “Chiquitita” performed there go to UNICEF to this day.

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    ABBA have been on hiatus since 1982

    What began so harmoniously in the 1970s – pop music written and performed by couples who were friends – began to crack in the early 80s. Frida and Benny divorced, and in 1982 the whole group split up or – in the words of the band – ABBA went “on hiatus”. A hiatus that's finally over since 2021, to the delight of fans.

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    Productive despite “pause”

    While Agnetha and Frida have now resumed their solo careers that started before ABBA, Benny and Björn continued to work together: They wrote the successful musical “Mamma Mia!”, which was also made into a film.

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    ABBA Museum in Stockholm

    Not many bands have their own place honoring them. ABBA yes. In 2013, in the presence of Frida and her two male bandmates, “ABBA – The Museum” opened in Stockholm with an interactive exhibition. The 3D holograms, which are to go on tour in 2022 as “ABBAtare”, can already be viewed there.

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    The wax band members

    ABBA are also available as three-dimensional wax figures in the Stockholm Museum. It also houses many of the eye-catching band costumes. The exhibition is also interactive because at some stations you can dance and sing along to the music of the band. Occasionally Frida, Björn, Benny or Agnetha should even call the “Ring-Ring” telephone and speak to the visitors.

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    The “ABBAtars” are coming

    In autumn 2020, it was leaked that the ABBA members would meet in London for filming. It is now clear: It was about their tour, where not the group itself, but holograms of their former selves are on stage. A new technique makes it possible for the “ABBAtare” to perform at different locations at the same time.

    Author: Verena Greb

With ABBA Voyage, live performance and virtual show merge – because in addition to the holograms, a ten-piece band can be seen on stage: they actually play all the songs, while the ABBAtares can be seen with their recorded, animated performance. The voices of Agnetha and Anni-Frid as well as the backing vocals are from the original recordings of the songs, as well as Björn's piano and Benny's guitars.

This strange mixture works for the audience – and they always dreamed of it, like that Ulvaeus in a DW interview: “The viewers were absolutely fascinated and had so much fun. They sang along. And the reaction afterwards: I could see that many people were amazed and asked: What was that, what we just saw?” This is an experience that no one has ever had before, completely new and pushing boundaries.

Björn Ulvaeus has more plans

On the premiere night in London on May 26th, the four “real” ABBA members will be on stage, at the other shows the audience will only see the ABBAtares. The specially built arena offers space for about 3000 people. If you want to dance, get a ticket for the “dance floor” directly in front of the stage or for one of the eight so-called “dance booths”: These are open booths in which groups with a maximum of twelve people celebrate their very private ABBA party be able. The shows are initially planned until early December.

ABBA digitizes

After the premiere, the four ABBA members will be drawn back home. Björn Ulvaeus in particular is needed in Stockholm, because rehearsals for the musical “Pippi in the Circus” are currently taking place there. Sweden's most successful cultural exports merge here: Astrid Lindgren's children's book star Pippi Longstocking and ABBA, because the music comes from Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson – and bears the clear signature of the cult band. For Ulvaeus, the project has a very special meaning, as he revealed to DW: “Both Pippi and Agnetha and Anni-Frid are very strong women. They are perfect symbols of equality between men and women.” They are role models for girls and young women, and that is very important to him, according to the ABBA musician. Ulvaeus believes that the world would be a better place if men and women were equal.

“Voyage” is the last ABBA project

The “Voyage” show will be the last be a joint project of ABBA, that's what the band announced. A dream came true for Björn Ulvaeus when he was able to bring the quartet together again for the album “Voyage” and the Avatar show. “I've never had such a good time as now,” he enthuses. “I think I'm a happier man now than I was in the 1970s.”