Four decades after the Swedish pop supergroup last performed live, ABBA devotees are taking to the stage once again in an innovative, entirely digital concert where the past and future collide.
With the first show opening to the public on Friday 27 May at ABBA Arena in London’s Olympic Park, a 3,000-seat venue specifically constructed for ABBA Voyage, last night’s red-carpet premiere marked the unveiling of the experience for superfans.
The London premiere was attended by ABBA themselves, their first public appearance together in years Fans are still in shock about the group gracing the red carpet, with a bittersweet reaction to the belief that this reunion is set to be their last, inviting a reflection on the legacy ABBA is leaving behind:
knowing this might be the last abba reunion makes a knot in my stomach. take me away from my thoughts!!! i haven’t recovered from yesterday yet— ً (@abbaslut) May 27, 2022
The music ABBA gave us for the past 50+ years was a gift. We have been blessed ?— Kate| insane for ABBA (@jiving_queen) May 26, 2022
Pop royalty aside, the event was also attended by Sweden’s King Carl XVI and Queen Silvia, with celebrity appearances from Zara Larsson and Kylie Minogue.
The voices and movements in the show are the real Agnetha Faltskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — choreographed by Britain’s Wayne McGregor — but the performers are digital avatars, or, ‘ABBA-tars’.
ABBA Voyage is both a hybrid of VR experience and 3D concert movie that allows the group to perform in their prime, turning back the clock to their 1970s heyday. The advanced technology that brings the experience to life is masterminded by Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects firm founded by Star Wars director George Lucas.
The experience is also accompanied by a 10-piece live backing band, who add vibrancy to the performance of ABBA classics from “Mamma Mia” to “SOS” and “Dancing Queen”. The 90-minute set also includes tracks from “Voyage”, the reunion album the band released last year.
ABBA Voyage has already welcomed a rush of critical acclaim. Writing in The Guardian, Alexis Petridis called the concert “jaw-dropping” and said “it’s so successful that it’s hard not to imagine other artists following suit.” In the iNews, the sentiment is echoed by Katie Solomon, who wrote: “This sublime, flawless, ridiculous concert was worth the wait.”
Tickets for ABBA Voyage, set to run until at least December 2022, can be purchased on their website.