ABBA Makes Rare Appearance For ‘Voyage’ London Concert Series With Digital Avatars

ABBA Makes Rare Appearance For ‘Voyage’ London Concert Series With Digital Avatars

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Swedish supergroup ABBA are back on stage as digital avatars for a new gig residency in London.

On Thursday, the four members of the group came together publicly to attend the opening night of “ABBA Voyage”.

Benny Andersson, 75; Agnetha Fältskog, 72; Anni Frid Lyngstad, 76; and Björn Ulvaeus, 77, were all smiles on the red carpet as they posed for photographers before entering the new ABBA Arena at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where they saw their digital avatars take to the stage.

The show opened to the public in London on Friday, the day after a glittering star-studded premiere attended by superfans, celebrities and Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.

ABBA LAUNCHES ‘VOYAGE’, FIRST ALBUM IN 40 YEARS

The four members of the band – two couples married during ABBA’s heyday, though now long divorced – were given an enthusiastic standing ovation when they bowed out at the end of Thursday’s show, 50 years after forming ABBA and 40 years after ceasing to perform live.

ABBA's Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Bjorn Ulvaeus attend the premiere performance of ABBA

ABBA’s Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Bjorn Ulvaeus attend ABBA’s ‘Voyage’ premiere performance at ABBA Arena on May 26, 2022 in London.
(Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Using motion capture technology, fans enjoyed their favorite hits, such as ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘SOS’, ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ and ‘Dancing Queen’, to name a few. . The “ABBA-tars” depicted the band performing as they were in 1979, three years before the band broke up. The concert series supports ABBA’s studio album “Voyage”, the band’s first release in 40 years.

On stage at the purpose-built 3,000-seat ABBA Arena next to London’s Olympic Park were a 10-piece live backing band and a digital ABBA, created using motion capture and video. other technologies by Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects company founded by “Star Wars” director George Lucas.

The band’s last public appearance was in 2016 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ulvaeus and Andersson’s friendship at the Berns Salonger hotel in downtown Stockholm.

The band members were thrilled with the show.

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“I didn’t know I had such amazing moves,” Ulvaeus said.

Lyngstad agreed: “I thought I was good enough, but I’m even better.”

Ulvaeus said the audience reaction was the most rewarding part of the experience.

ABBA poses for a group photo in Copenhagen, Denmark, circa 1974.

ABBA poses for a group photo in Copenhagen, Denmark, circa 1974.
(Jorgen Angel/Redferns)

“There is an emotional connection between avatars and audiences,” he said. “That’s the fantastic thing.”

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Gimmick or genius, “ABBA Voyage” is booked in London until May 2023, with a world tour scheduled after that.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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