ABBA’s Voyage show has unquestionably revolutionised what a live music show could be. The band’s digital ‘ABBA-tars’, created by George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic, have been playing to packed houses in London since May 2022.
Not keen to drag their 70-something bodies around on tour, the four members of the group – Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fälkskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson – dressed up in motion-capture suits to pre-record the performance. As has been well documented elsewhere, their voices and movements are real, but the performers onstage at the purpose-built 3,000-capacity venue in Stratford are digital recreations, depicting ABBA in their 1970s/early ’80s heyday, when they majestically ruled the pop world. They’re also aided by a 10-piece band, giant screens and eye-popping visuals.
A seemingly inexhaustible supply of punters of all ages have been streaming into the arena since then, showcasing the Swedish four-piece’s enduring cross-generational appeal. This was inevitable – you only have to look at how many people have bought the ABBA Gold compilation since its 1992 release (30 million and counting) or gone to see the Mamma Mia! films and stage shows. This is one popular band/brand. You could argue they’re even more popular now than they were in the era the avatars do their best to recreate.
But who’s still going? ABBA Voyage is on five days a week, twice a day on weekends. Surely the well has to run dry at some point? But it’s showing until at least November next year in London, and then has the potential be seen around the world. So ‘no’ would appear to be the answer to these pertinent questions. On the night we attended, we decided to find out who – apart from us first-timers – was in attendance. You can definitely see a theme emerge.
Lesley Ward, 60 and Rachel Wade, 36 from Norwich are mother and daughter. Lesley has already been and now wants to bring her daughter to see the show. There are loads of people around who have had exactly the same thought. Like Lesley and Rachel, many of them are dressed up in suitably colourful ’70s garb.
Lesley says: “My daughter’s just qualified as a doctor so I’ve brought her to London for a few days as a little treat and this is the pinnacle.