This assessment incorporates main spoilers for the Abba Voyage stay present.
If ABBA had ever accepted the rumoured supply of $1billion to reform for a reunion tour a couple of years again, the anticipation of seeing Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid again on stage for the primary time in forty years would’ve been at fever pitch.
Strolling into the multi-million pound, purpose-built ABBA Area in East London for the very first evening of the ABBA Voyage present, there’s that heightened sense of anticipation, nevertheless it’s laced with an amazing feeling of ’what the hell am I about to expertise?’
Shrouded in secrecy, regardless of months of hype and tantalising teasers, the band’s Björn and Benny repeatedly acknowledged that it was positively not going to be a kind of posthumous hologram reveals placed on for the likes of Whitney Houston and Frank Sinatra.
Additionally they struggled to actually clarify what the distinction can be, aside from that as a substitute of being holograms, every member of the group can be performing as digital avatars (or ABBAtars as they’ve turn into recognized), which sounded loads like… holograms.
After witnessing the primary ever efficiency of the present, I can see why Björn and Benny struggled to clarify it. I also can perceive why they saved their playing cards so near their chest.
It’s fairly merely, awe-inspiring.
“We’re enjoying tips with individuals’s minds and so they’re prepared to allow us to,” Björn stated forward of the present’s premiere.
“For the time followers are within the area, they imagine we’re actual and are on stage. They’re at a live performance with ABBA.”
From the second we get our first glimpse of the group – rising onto the stage as reimagined 21st century pop stars – it’s abundantly clear that that is positively not a hologram present.
Because the 4 ABBAtars arrive on stage we’re all immediately transported right into a universe the place the actual and digital worlds collide. Your complete area is wrapped in swathes of sunshine and sound. If the acoustics weren’t so spectacular, I swear I’d have heard 3000 jaws concurrently hit the ground.
And simply as I used to be popping my jaw again into place, it’s gone once more on the realisation that the opening tune shouldn’t be one of many group’s mega-hits however the title monitor – and agency fan favorite – from their 1981 studio album, The Guests.
“I’ve been ready for these guests,” Anni-Frid sings.
Not half as a lot because the adoring crowd have been ready for them.
Then it’s into one other deep reduce, Gap In Your Soul, a nod to the group’s remaining tour in 1979, when it was final carried out. That was ‘peak ABBA’, which is why the variations of the band we see on stage tonight are primarily based on that period, albeit with 21st century hairstyles and wardrobes courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana, Manish Arora, Erevos Aether and Michael Schmidt.
Does Your Mom Know sees Björn get his solo second, however after one verse he disappears to provide the (actual life) backing singers and wonderful stay band their second within the sun.
Talking of which, Chiquitita is carried out in entrance of an enormous eclipsing sun, completely timed to totally disappear because the tune ends. The gang go nuts.
If I needed to nitpick at the place some momentum is misplaced it could be the 2 songs that didn’t characteristic the ABBAtars. As an alternative, Eagle and Voulez-Vous have been accompanied by an animated story.
Possibly I used to be lacking one thing, however not having them carry out the latter felt like a missed alternative, particularly after they’d simply donned these futuristic Tron-like outfits seen within the promo pics to carry out an explosive model of Lay All Your Love On Me, choreographed by the award-winning Wayne McGregor.
Possibly the ABBAtars wanted to catch their breath? A few of the viewers actually wanted to clean up as many opted to go to the bar at this level.
Pointless animation apart, there have been some genuinely heat and humorous moments in between numbers when the band ‘interacted’ with the gang. At one level Benny began enjoying the opening notes of the EastEnders theme tune (sure, actually), which is once I genuinely thought I’d entered a parallel universe. It actually felt that approach within the area.
Just like the (tremendous) troopers that they’re, they saved the very best to final .
There wasn’t a single bum on seat – together with these belonging to Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and the King and Queen of Sweden who have been all within the viewers – for the finale of Waterloo, Dancing Queen, The Winner Takes It All and Thank You For The Music. At this level, the emotional connection between the group and the viewers was palpable.
I walked into that area pondering ‘what the hell am I about to expertise?’ and walked out buzzing with an amazing sense of ‘what the hell have I simply witnessed?’
The longer term, that’s what.
ABBA Voyage is now reserving till 28 Might 2023 with extra dates to be launched quickly. For moire info go to abbavoyage.com.