ABBA Voyage
Residency by ABBA
LocationQueen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, England
VenueABBA Arena
Associated albumVoyage
Start date27 May 2022
End date4 December 2022 (to date)[1]
WebsiteOfficial website
ABBA concert chronology

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

The digital versions of ABBA have been created with motion-capture and performance techniques with the four band members and the team from Industrial Light & Magic, the company founded by George Lucas, in what is the company’s first foray into music.

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

Background

ABBA had unofficially split up in 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 the subsequent film of the same name, the members had repeatedly refused to reform. Reportedly, they turned down an offer of $1 billion in 2000 to perform again.[3] In 2008, Björn Ulvaeus told The Sunday Telegraph, "We will never appear on stage again. There is simply no motivation to re-group."[4] and he repeated the statement in an interview in 2014 while promoting the publication of ABBA: The Official Photo Book.[5]

In September 2017, Benny Andersson told Swedish newspaper Expressen that there were plans for ABBA to tour "virtually", using digital avatars of the group.[6] Ulvaeus told the BBC that the idea had been proposed to the band by Simon Fuller.[7] 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".[7]

A billboard for the concert at London Stadium, December 15, 2021
A billboard for the concert at London Stadium, December 15, 2021

On 26 August 2021, the "ABBA Voyage" website was launched, indicating the announcement of a new project a week later.[8] 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 will feature a 10-piece live band playing alongside the group's avatars, performing 22 of ABBA's songs.[9] The live band was selected by James Righton of Klaxons and will feature Little Boots on keys.[10]

In a 2021 interview with Retro Pop magazine, Little Boots said the ABBA Voyage setlist will “please everybody,” and that, “There are two songs that are some of my absolute favourites that I wouldn’t expect them to include, but they are, so that’s really exciting!" She also said the show will "tick all the ABBA Gold boxes".[11]

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.[12][13] The digital band will be accompanied by a live band on stage.[14]

In popular culture

In the first episode of the second series of Spitting Image, the new ABBA album and residency were satirized. The main targets were the band members' old age, the ABBAtars and their connections to the UK.[15] Coincidentally, two days before the episode aired, a journalist from Clash Music described the show as a cash grab because of their popularity.[16]

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. ^ Cooper, Leonie (10 December 2014). "ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus says band will never reform". NME. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  4. ^ Michaels, Sean (7 July 2008). "Abba reunion: Don't hold your breath". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ Reilly, Nick (12 September 2017). "A 'virtual' ABBA tour is set to take place in 2019". NME. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  7. ^ a b Savage, Mark (27 April 2018). "Abba announce first new music since 1982". BBC News. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  8. ^ Savage, Mark (26 August 2021). "Abba tease major announcement ahead of new music". BBC News. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Abba delight fans with new 10-song album and virtual concert". BBC News. 2 September 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  10. ^ "Klaxons keyboardist James Righton reveals his role in forming ABBA reunion band". NME. 7 September 2021.
  11. ^ "Little Boots: 'No one will be disappointed by 'ABBA Voyage' setlist'". Retro Pop. 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  12. ^ Sherwin, Adam (2 September 2021). "Abba Voyage: Reunited Abba unveil VR live show and first songs since 1982". I. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  13. ^ "How ILM created the ABBAtars". TVBEurope. September 3, 2021.
  14. ^ Reilly, Nick (12 September 2017). "A 'virtual' ABBA tour is set to take place in 2019". NME. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  15. ^ "ABBA are back | Spitting Image". British Comedy Guide.
  16. ^ "Is ABBA Voyage Crossing A Worrying Line?". Clash Music. 9 September 2021.