Coordinates: 51°31′58″N 0°00′49″W / 51.53277°N 0.0136°W / 51.53277; -0.0136

ABBA Voyage
Residency by ABBA
ABBA Voyage poster.png
LocationQueen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, England
VenueABBA Arena
Associated albumVoyage
Start date27 May 2022
End date28 May 2023 (to date)[1]
WebsiteOfficial website
ABBA concert chronology

ABBA Voyage is a virtual concert residency by the Swedish pop group ABBA. The concerts feature virtual avatars (dubbed 'ABBAtars'), depicting the group as they appeared in 1977. The concerts are held in a purpose-built venue at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, officially called the ABBA Arena.[2]

The digital versions of ABBA have been created with motion capture and performance techniques with the four band members and the visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, in what is the company’s first foray into music.

The ABBA Voyage concert has been staged with the help of producers Svana Gisla and Ludvig Andersson, director Baillie Walsh, co-executive producer Johan Renck and choreographer Wayne McGregor.

Pophouse, a Swedish entertainment company, is a co-developer of the project and its lead investor.[3] Two Pophouse executives, Michael Bolingbroke and Per Sundin, both serve in leadership positions of the production company behind the show.[4] According to multiple media reports, the project is one of the most expensive live music experiences in history, with a budget of $175 million.[5]

Background

ABBA had unofficially split up in December 1982, and despite renewed interest in the band from the 1990s onwards, following the worldwide success of their greatest hits album ABBA Gold, the musical Mamma Mia! and its film adaptation, the members had repeatedly refused to re-form. Reportedly, they turned down an offer of $1 billion in 2000 to perform again.[6] In 2008, Björn Ulvaeus told The Sunday Telegraph, "We will never appear on stage again. There is simply no motivation to re-group."[7] He repeated the statement in an interview in 2014 while promoting the publication of ABBA: The Official Photo Book.[8]

In September 2017, Benny Andersson told Swedish newspaper Expressen that there were plans for ABBA to tour "virtually", using digital avatars of the group.[9] Ulvaeus told the BBC that the idea had been proposed to the band by Simon Fuller.[10] The idea of using representations of a singer backed by a live band originated with Elvis: The Concert in the 1990s, when Elvis Presley "sang" at concerts via old video clips accompanied by his live backup band. In April 2018, the four members issued a statement saying that during preparations for the tour, they had regrouped in the studio and had recorded two new songs, titled "I Still Have Faith in You" and "Don't Shut Me Down".[10]

A billboard for the concert at London Stadium, December 15, 2021
A billboard for the concert at London Stadium, December 15, 2021
The ABBA Arena under construction in March 2022
The ABBA Arena under construction in March 2022

On 26 August 2021, the "ABBA Voyage" website was launched, indicating the announcement of a new project a week later.[11] On 2 September 2021, a globally-streamed press conference from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London confirmed that the virtual concerts would take place in London from 27 May 2022. In addition, it was announced that a new ABBA album, Voyage, would be released on 5 November. The new album would feature ten songs including the previously-announced "I Still Have Faith in You" and "Don't Shut Me Down". The concerts feature a 10-piece live band playing alongside the group's avatars, performing 22 of ABBA's songs.[12] The live band was selected by James Righton of Klaxons and features Little Boots on keys.[13] Concerts started in May 2022, and are currently extended until May 2023, with the possibility to extend the shows up until April 2026, when the permission for the ABBA Arena expires to give space to a housing project on the site.[14]

ABBAtar technology

The ABBA band members wore motion-capture suits as part of the development process and were filmed as they performed a 22-song set over the course of five weeks. Some 160 cameras were used, with graphics later added by Industrial Light & Magic.[15][16] The choreography is based on the band members' real movements, but captured from younger body doubles.[14][17][18] The digital band, utilising songs' originally-recorded vocals, are accompanied by a live instrumental band on stage.[19]

Reception

Opening night

The opening night of ABBA Voyage was attended by celebrities including Kylie Minogue, Keira Knightley, Kate Moss, Sharleen Spiteri and Carola Häggkvist as well as members of the Swedish royal family such as Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. Mark Sutherland of Variety wrote that the crowd gave a standing ovation at the concert. After the 90-minute avatar performance, the four members of ABBA showed up on stage and gave a curtain call.[20] The first showing was met with positive acclaim.

Setlist

The following set list was obtained from the concert held on 26 May 2022 at the ABBA Arena in London, the opening show.[21] It does not represent all concerts for the duration of the residency.

Act 1
  1. "Skallgång" (introduction)
  2. "The Visitors"
  3. "Hole in Your Soul"
  4. "SOS" (with "EastEnders theme tune" piano introduction)
  5. "Knowing Me, Knowing You" (video interlude)
Act 2
  1. "Chiquitita"
  2. "Fernando"
  3. "Mamma Mia"
  4. "Does Your Mother Know"
  5. "Eagle" ("Rora" video interlude)
Act 3
  1. "Lay All Your Love on Me" (video interlude)
  2. "Summer Night City"
  3. "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"
  4. "Voulez-Vous" ("Rora" video interlude)
Act 4
  1. "When All Is Said and Done"
  2. "Don't Shut Me Down"
  3. "I Still Have Faith in You"
  4. "Waterloo" (video interlude)
Act 5
  1. "Thank You for the Music"
  2. "Dancing Queen"
Encore
  1. "The Winner Takes It All"
  2. "I Wonder (Departure)" (instrumental outro)

Personnel

Personnel adapted from NME and Vogue.[22] [18]

ABBA:

Band:

Crew:

Body doubles:

Wardrobe:

References

  1. ^ "Abba Voyage | Tickets & Info | Ticketmaster UK". www.ticketmaster.co.uk.
  2. ^ "ABBA Voyage: Swedish pop legends announce new album and virtual stage show". Sky News. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  3. ^ "Swedish House Mafia Sells Masters, Publishing to Pophouse Entertainment". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2022-06-09.
  4. ^ UK Government (June 9, 2022). "Aniara Ltd People". gov.uk.
  5. ^ Marshall, Alex (2022-05-27). "Abba Returns to the Stage in London. Sort Of". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-06-09.
  6. ^ Cooper, Leonie (10 December 2014). "ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus says band will never reform". NME. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  7. ^ Michaels, Sean (7 July 2008). "Abba reunion: Don't hold your breath". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  8. ^ "ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus Discusses New Photo Book, Writes Off Reunion: 'You'll Never See Us Onstage Again'". Billboard. 9 December 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  9. ^ Reilly, Nick (12 September 2017). "A 'virtual' ABBA tour is set to take place in 2019". NME. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  10. ^ a b Savage, Mark (27 April 2018). "Abba announce first new music since 1982". BBC News. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  11. ^ Savage, Mark (26 August 2021). "Abba tease major announcement ahead of new music". BBC News. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  12. ^ "Abba delight fans with new 10-song album and virtual concert". BBC News. 2 September 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Klaxons keyboardist James Righton reveals his role in forming ABBA reunion band". NME. 7 September 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-09-07.
  14. ^ a b Bagchi, Bipin (27 May 2022). "Abba Returns to the Stage in London. Sort Of". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Sherwin, Adam (2 September 2021). "Abba Voyage: Reunited Abba unveil VR live show and first songs since 1982". I. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  16. ^ "How ILM created the ABBAtars". TVBEurope. September 3, 2021.
  17. ^ Ramírez, Juan (30 May 2022). "Abba Voyage Review: No Ordinary Abba Night at the Club". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  18. ^ a b Borrelli-Persson, Laird (26 May 2022). "Everything You Need to Know About ABBA's Voyage Costumes". Vogue. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  19. ^ Reilly, Nick (12 September 2017). "A 'virtual' ABBA tour is set to take place in 2019". NME. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  20. ^ Sutherland, Mark (27 May 2022). "ABBA's 'Voyage' CGI Extravaganza is Everything It's Cracked up to be, and More: 'Concert' Review". Variety.
  21. ^ "Abba Voyage: The band's virtual concert needs to be seen to be believed". BBC News. 26 May 2022.
  22. ^ Trendell, Andrew (29 May 2022). "The ABBA Voyage live band are looking forward to playing for "multiple years"". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)