ABBA voyage – there was something in the air that night…

I remember once listening to a musician being interviewed on the radio. He was being pressed on his favourite concert, song, etc. His answer was ‘I don’t do beauty contests’. I loved that and often quote it; with all you’ve experienced in life do you really have one concert/album/player that trumps all? Perhaps..

I’ll say it now – ABBA Voyage is hands down the best …’thing’….I’ve ever been part of. Two things immediately. What exactly is ABBA Voyage? A concert? A tribute? A son et lumière? It’s all of these and more as I’ll try to explain. Secondly, you are part of this; you’re not outside looking on it’s happening all around you and, unless you’re made of stone, deep inside you too, either in your heart or your soul depending on how you see the world.

One must, of course, start with ‘the band’. As you’ll all know, they’re ABBA-tars, digital projections. From the minute they appear on stage you really believe they’re with you in flesh. It’s absolutely uncanny. I defy anyone not to ask ‘how do they do that?’. Then they start to dance and move around each other and touch each other and you give up trying to figure it out because it doesn’t matter and they’re into their hits and you’re completely and utterly hooked.

The members of the group appear life sized on the stage plus with magnified projections like you see in any big arena gig. It’s all flawlessly synched and staggeringly life like; even their hair and clothes move as they would in real life. They look just like you remember from the halcyon days but their look and outfit changes several times as the set flows. In close up there are a few natural blemishes and (whisper it) skin tags or moles. Resisting the temptation to sacrifice reality on the altar of ego.

They share the stage with a live band and three singers who supply a thrilling back track to the remastered classic hits as well as a few new songs and some older ones I didn’t recognise. The sound in the arena is scintillating, crystal clear and just the right volume.

The stage itself is large but the effects generated from there completely envelop and surround you; it’s a truly immersive experience. The lighting is a triumph. Massive screens show the ABBA-tars in close up, abstract patterns of kaleidoscopic light, a two-part epic fantasy animation and some old footage of the real band from when it all began. There’s a jaw-dropping moment when the projection of the band in their neon-tube outfits zooming around on screen suddenly shrinks down to life size and seamlessly the band are life size on stage and launching into another classic hit. You pause to think ‘how the….?’ and then immediately discard that idea and dance again.

But the visual feast radiates all around you. The screens extend to the very limits of the arena. Light is reflected from lasers via a series of moving discs and mirrors descending from the ceiling. Strings of fairy lights twinkle in a rainbow of colours. There’s even a night sky and aurora borealis, choreographed to the lyrics of an appropriate song.

I hope you’re appreciating that I’m trying to avoid a surfeit of spoilers; part of the delight of this spectacle is never quite knowing what happens next….

Anything negative? No, really no. Ok, one thing on reflection. In close up, at times, I noticed that a digital projection may slightly struggle to convey depth of emotion. But hey, it doesn’t matter as you supply your own. I was crying at times, no I’m not sure why, but the whole experience, which all of the 3000 audience members singing, dancing, waving arms in time are bonded in, is deeply, deeply joyous.

ABBA Voyage is something you must see. I can’t believe our tickets were £21 each. I can’t promise they’re available for that price now. In fact, you might struggle to get them at all. But try, it might just be the best thing you’ve ever, ever seen…..

A thing of true beauty

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