It’s official. The reviews are in and ABBA’s new concert experience, ABBA Voyage is a certified hit!

The ABBA Voyage concert, which officially opened on at the purpose build ABBA Voyage Arena in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, May 27, has received rapturous reviews from fans and critics.

Kylie Minogue attended the premiere and said on Instagram, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! What. A. Show. Loved every minute.”

Other stars attending the opening night show included Kate Moss and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and his wife, Queen Silvia, as well Keira Knightly, who is married to James Righton, who assembled the live band for the production.

All four ABBA members reunited at the premiere May 26, to the delight of the supergroup’s fans. Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid (“Frida”) Lyngstad walked the red carpet to a crescendo of applause.

“To be together as a group again has been very fulfilling. We really have loved working together again,” said Frida at the premiere.  “Abba has never left us, in my heart,” Agnetha told the BBC on the red carpet. “It was not such a difficult decision [to reunite] because the music is part of us.”

“The most overwhelming feeling I have after tonight’s performance is that the audience totally connected emotionally with the avatars and for me that is the most important thing of all,” said Ulvaeus after the premiere.

Five Star Reviews

The Guardian gave the show a five-star review, calling it a “jaw-dropping avatar act that’s destined to be copied…Any sense you’re not actually in the presence of the band dissolves during a setlist of crowd-pleasing hits.”

Express called the show “A mind-blowing vision of the future,” and noted “The light show is utterly spectacular, the sound sensational on the richly updated orchestrations.” 

The New York Times said, “With a concert spectacle mixing wizardry and technical skill, the band makes a case for its continued relevance…Abba Voyage is an exercise in symbol worship that separates itself from an ordinary Abba night at the club through state-of-the-art production values…To hear the closing piano riffs on Chiquitita in a crowded arena is an exalting experience, and despite its eyebrow-raising premise, Abba Voyage miraculously takes flight.” 

“These avatars certainly capture ABBA’s original exuberance, minus the Jurassic tendencies that tend to blight decades-after-the-fact reunions in the real world,” said Variety in its review.

“The pre-publicity stressed these weren’t holograms, and that’s true — these digital doppelgängers look almost indistinguishable from real people from every angle, with each tuft of hair and outlandish ‘70s costume rendered in occasionally terrifying detail. They can dance, they can jive, they can even make bad jokes about pausing for costume changes — and the crowd are having the time of their lives, teetering on the brink of delirium throughout, despite their majority VIP status,” Variety said.

Over 380,000 Tickets Sold

The  22-song set list for the 90 minute show includes such hits as SOS, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Chiquitita, Fernando, Mamma Mia, and Waterloo while the  encore includes Thank You For The Music, Dancing Queen, The Winner Takes It All

Two new tracks from the band’s 2021 hugely successful album Voyage also made the set list, including Don’t Shut Me Down and I Still Have Faith In You. The album, the band’s first in 40 years, peaked at number 2 on the Billboard chart, the highest chart placement in the band’s career.

The album also received widespread praise from critics, with The Independent, in their 5-star review, saying, “The reunion no one imagined would ever happen has resulted in a triumphant album awash in the group’s gung-ho uncoolness.”

Benny Andersson told Variety that over 380,000 tickets have already been sold for the concert which features 500 moving lights, 30,000 individually controllable light points, 20 lighting rigs, 291 speakers, 870,000 watts of audio amplification and a 65 million pixel wraparound screen. 

The show required over 10 million computing hours, and 1000 visual-effects artists to pull together. The concert is the largest project that ILM has ever worked on.

“It’s incredibly technologically complicated, And, you know, we built a building and we spent six years. But all of that work has been about creating emotion,” said ABBA Voyage producer Ludvig Andersson at the premiere.

ABBA-tars Backed By A Live Band

While the band appears in their ABBA-tar form, the concert is backed by a 10-member live band, assembled by James Righton of the Klaxons and including  singer Little Boots on keyboards.

Righton told NME that assembling the band was a big responsibility. “It was a challenge, but a fun one. I care as a fan of their band. If I was going to be a part of it, I wanted to get it right. This band had to step up as being as good as the original line-up.”

“It was incredible to hear this band play for the first time and do these songs justice. To see Benny jump on synth and piano and play along – it was so moving. We did a rendition of ‘Eagle’ that went on for 30 minutes because it was so much fun and we didn’t want to stop,” Righton said.

The show took five and a half years to produce and Andersson told Variety that 

“Everything, from ILM’s work to the lighting to the sound is amazingly beautiful. It’s the best sound you’ve heard in an arena ever, I promise you that. That has been my department. I mean, the music is my department, the band sound. All the people who work with this have been wonderful. But the technique has nothing to do with the show. You sit there and you see a band on stage and that’s what it is.”

This Is It

Prior to COVID shutting down the production, the four ABBA members regrouped, and for seven hours a day, for four-and-a-half weeks, the team performed for over 200 cameras wearing motion capture suits. Body doubles later copied the performances but harnessing a more youthful energy, and the two versions were carefully combined too create the show.

“We are sort of merged together with our body doubles. Don’t ask me how it works because I can’t explain that,” Andersson told Rolling Stone“If you’re 75, you don’t jump around like you did when you were 34, so this is why this happened.”

However, despite the impressive sales figures for both the Voyage album and the concert, Andersson says this is it; ABBA is done. It’s never say never, but it’s a no. Nothing is going to happen after this,” he told Variety.

© Star Observer 2022 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.