Swedish pop legends Abba are making a comeback after nearly 40 years. As well as returning with a new studio album called “Voyage,” one of the most successful music groups of all time are planning a set of concerts in London. The “revolutionary” events will see the 1970s hitmakers performing digitally via avatars. The exciting announcement comes after a few years of teasing fans.
“It is incredible to be where we are, no imagination could dream up that. To release a new album after 40 years and to still be the best of friends … to still have a total loyalty. Who has experienced that? Nobody … It is such fun and we have been longing for this for such a long time,” band member Björn Ulvaeussaid said during a globally-streamed press conference on Thursday.
Singers Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad and instrumentalists/songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus are blessing fans with the album “Voyage.” To be released worldwide on November 5, it’s their first new material since the 1982 single “Under Attack.”
The quartet, who have had several solo projects since they broke up, have recorded 10 tracks, two of which were premiered during the press conference in London. One of the two new songs, “I Still Have Faith in You” is a warm and stately piano ballad underscoring the connection the four band members share. The second, “Don’t Shut Me Down,” is about a woman returning to her partner years after walking out. The band actually returned to the studio in 2018, promising the two new songs would be released later that year, but things kept being pushed back.
To make it up to fans, Abba kept writing and recording and came up with a full album of material. “Voyage” includes a Christmas song and several pop songs, and concert attendees will be able to bop along to them along with the band's former chart-toppers.
Also titled “Voyage,” the virtual concerts are taking place at the state-of-the-art, purpose-built Abba Arena in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic park, which can host around 3,000 attendees. The concerts, playing six nights a week, will begin on May 27, 2022, with tickets going on sale September 7. The band members, who are now in their 70s, are set to perform their greatest hits digitally via avatars with a live 10-piece band. The “Abba-tars" were designed by Industrial Light and Magic, the visual effects company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas. Over 850 people worked on recreating Abba in their heyday, using motion capture technology to scan "every mannerism and every motion" of the musicians while they performed. The group was filmed in skintight suits for the lifelike recreations. Meanwhile, London’s Royal Ballet resident artist, Wayne McGregor, choreographed the band’s performance, and the footage is directed by filmmaker Baillie Walsh and produced by Johan Renck.
Abba formed in 1972 and went on become one of the most popular musical artists in history. Thanks to having one of the most successful and brilliant song catalogues in pop music, they sold hundreds of millions of albums worldwide. In 1974 they won the Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo,” while other hits included “Mama Mia!” “Dancing Queen” “Name of the Game” and “Take a Chance on Me.” The group, which consisted of two married couples, began fizzling out in 1982 following both divorces.
Younger generations have been able to enjoy Abba's simple-sounding but sophisticated songs thanks to the stage musical “Mamma Mia!” as well as the film version, which became a firm family favourite. Their 1992 greatest hits collection, “Abba Gold,” the longest-running album in the UK album chart, has also helped to keep their name alive.