Mamma mia, here they go again!
After forty years, Swedish pop band ABBA has announced they are returning, with not only a new studio album but a full concert tour.
The musicians behind iconic songs like Dancing Queen and Super Trouper have already given fans a taste of their new material, dropping two delightfully nostalgic sounding singles, I Still Have Faith in You and Don’t Shut Me Down.
Far from being a baby boomer relic of a bygone decade, ABBA’s music has instead continued to find new audiences post-disbandment. Spotify revealed that listeners from ages 18 to 24 streamed the band’s music the most on the platform, and that their songs have only increased in popularity since 2014. On TikTok, content with the hashtag #ABBA recently reached one billion views.
While the album is scheduled for release on 5 November this year, the 70s hitmakers are also making waves by teasing their upcoming Voyage tour, commencing on 27th May, 2022. The ‘revolutionary’ concert experience at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London will feature a 10-piece live band performing alongside the pop quartet. However, this is barely among the most unique aspects of this ‘revolutionary’ concert experience.
Keep reading for 4 key things you should know about the ABBA reunion tour.
ABBA won’t be there
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Not physically, anyway. Unfortunately for those hoping to see Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid in the flesh, the group will instead be performing virtually using animated digital avatars, which were created after months of recorded green screen performances and motion-capture technology. The alter egos, or ‘ABBA-tars’, depict younger versions of the band members, who are now in their seventies, in the prime of the band’s success.
The company behind Star Wars’ CGI is part of the production
In their first foray into the music world, visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic sent their 850 member team to craft this virtual performance. Using the same technology as in the production of movies like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, the George Lucas-founded company will be responsible for producing the digital avatars and effects from ABBA’s pre-recorded performances. Other notable names involved include the resident choreographer of London’s Royal Ballet, Wayne McGregor, who promised ‘new songs, new moves, classic songs, classic moves,’ brought to life by ‘technological wizardry, state of the art immersion and entertainment innovation’.
Tickets have already started selling out
The reunion tour and new music have got long-time ABBA fans excited, to say the least. The opening show of the tour, to be held at a purpose-built 3,000 capacity London venue called ABBA Arena, sold out within two days of pre-sales. Their upcoming album has also broken a new record for Universal Music UK, becoming the label’s highest ever pre-order sale at 80,000 albums.
Virtual performances are becoming the new normal
Back in 2006, virtual band The Gorillaz performed a live duet with Madonna at the Grammys, all while in full digitally animated form. When COVID-19 shut down all physical concerts and entertainment events in 2020, some artists took to the digital sphere for their performances. John Legend partnered with streaming company Wave to perform live as a virtual avatar while Lil Naz X and Travis Scott played to virtual crowds in the gaming worlds of Roblox and Fortnite.
While ABBA’s concert will certainly make use of more sophisticated technology and be executed on a grander scale, the concept of virtual performances is not new. In fact, if the ticket sale success of this concert tour is any indication, we definitely won’t be seeing the last of it.
Photo: ABBA Voyage