Saturday, September 18, 2021
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New music after almost 40 years – comeback leaves a lot of questions




Omma Mia! So you did it after all. Björn Ulvaueus (76) and Benny Andersson (74) were sitting in front of a London TV woman with a view of the Abba concert hall in London and were finally, finally, finally Abba again. Announced a new album called “Voyage” for November 5th – there is also a Christmas carol on it for the Christmas business – and ticket sales for the concerts will start on September 7th. It was joked that in a band there should never be more than 40 years between two albums and that the women, unlike the men, did not have to shave for the motion capture process. The ladies weren’t there in London either and had to listen to this stupid macho phrase in front of the screen somewhere else.

Too shy to be Abba for the media again? The absence of Agnetha and Anni-Frid was a shame and certainly clouded, even if only minimally, the joy of reunion of the millions of old fans and the millions of young and very young fans who came to event locations such as Reykjavik, New York, Berlin, Vienna and Rio de Janeiro had arrived or were watching the live stream. Anyway: motion capture? Isn’t that what they did with the actor Andy Serkis so that the digital “Lord of the Rings” goblin Gollum and the monster monkey King Kong come across alive on the screen? No, Abba do not tour as a living being, but when the show phase begins in London (dates shortly), their digital counterparts are on stage – the avatars called Abbatars. You could see them on the giant screen in Stockholm at the end of the new song “I Still Have Faith in You”.

Abba revival in the early nineties

Agnetha Fältskog (71), Anni-Frid Lyngstad (75), Björn Ulvaeus (76) and Benny Andersson (74) were as young as 1979 again. The skin looked a bit smooth porcelain, and the eyes – well, what with Gollum and Kong works, does not work so well with people to this day. The human hero from the beautiful fairy tale film “Polar Express” looked just as dead as the characters from the sci-fi animated series “Resident Evil”, which started just a few weeks ago. And you will be able to see the deficit in real life when the Abbatars can be seen on a giant screen in the Abbadrome in London. But we Abbafans will perhaps have the tear film of happiness in our eyes.

Who would have thought? When after the singles “Under Attack” and “One of Us” at the beginning of the eighties there were actually nothing more hits from our favorite Swedish hitmaker, things got quieter around Abba for ten years. Other pop and rock artists and groups took over the dominance of the world’s charts. But when the Australian tribute band Björn Again took up the instruments, and especially in the early summer of 1992 the hip synthpop duo Erasure around singer Andy Bell and the former Depeche Mode mastermind Vince Clark released the EP “Abba-esque” with four Abba cover versions, that started a memorable revival.




Abba resisted a comeback for a long time

The hit album “Abba Gold” was released shortly afterwards in September, sold 31 million copies and has been the longest-placed album in the British charts since July 2021 with a total of 1000 weeks. Even the toughest rockers came out as Abba fans. And when U2 started singing “Dancing Queen” at their Zooropa station in London’s Wembley Stadium in 1993, tens of thousands of Britons sang the Abba song along from the first to the last line 2008 took place in London and had world stars in the ensemble with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. But what did the band do? Abba turned down the most astronomical super sums for a tiny bit of reunification.

Abba even made it into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in the end. “This is the real hall where the legends are: Elvis, Beatles, Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson,” said Benny Andersson happily back in 2017 in an interview with the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND). “Crazy. We’re the only band out there that doesn’t come from America or England. ”As a person entitled to vote, he then voted year after year for the German band Kraftwerk (and this year the Düsseldorf electronics team will finally, finally, be welcomed in a noble way).

So are the new songs

The new songs? You still have to let it sag a little. “I Still Have Faith in You” is a somewhat more complex ballad with a melody that you can’t whistle straight away, “Don’t Shut Me Down” is a bit reminiscent of “Dancing Queen”. At first listen it is not as spirited as “SOS” or “Mamma Mia”, not as melodious as “Take a Chance on Me” or “Super Trouper”. Abba, one mustn’t forget, are the people who wrote “I Have a Dream”, “Fernando” or the delicate “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room”. It will be fine, one then thinks. The rock ballad “Eagle” had also taken a few runs through the ear before it was anchored in listener’s head as one of the most magnificent Abba works of all. After all, these Abba songs have the approval of all band members, unlike the Beatles back then, when the survivors shot two John Lennon songs in the mid-1990s due to Jeff Lynne’s lack of producers in order to add something new to the Beatles “anthology” – Project to have.

Are we going to spoil the comeback of the decade now or what? No way. We are much too Abba-phil for that. But every Abba recital when the four pop stars with their wrinkles in life would have stood on a stage in person and dimmed their songs down a little to cello and piano, we would have preferred an evening with the best stage technology of all time, when we four eternally young computer characters remind us that at least we are not getting any younger. So we inevitably take what we can get and hope to fall in love again at second glance. As Abba sang in “Mamma Mia”: “One more look and I forget everything”.


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