It starts with The Visitors, an icy, electronic track in which authoritarian agents hammer on the door of a fearful dissident – not the Abba you expected to come calling in this trailblazing, retro-futurist extravaganza of a show. The song’s lead singer, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, is, as we all know, not really on stage tonight either. She and her bandmates are 3D renderings created via the granular CGI of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), which cut its teeth on Star Wars and the Marvel films.
Lyngstad’s verisimilitude is, however, off the hook. The swish of the hair, the dentistry, the believability of her 1979 dance moves all contribute to a desire to suspend your disbelief and cast off on this surreal Voyage, which delivers everything Abba fans expect – the hits and the outfits – but still manages to surprise.
In the middle of the set is Eagle, which plays out as an anime video quest that recalls Studio Ghibli and the 2012 video game Journey. It’s unclear what the animation is doing here beyond padding out the voyage theme while the “performers” allegedly “change outfits” – one of the many little pacing tics that makes this gig feel real-ish. But it is surely to do with Abba’s desire to be understood as contemporary audio-visual movers and shakers, which they achieve, and then some.
Shortly afterwards comes Lay All Your Love on Me, in which the four seventysomethings, too often misunderstood as a frothy Swedish light entertainment outfit, make a serious bid to out-robot Kraftwerk in 3D with their luminous Tron suits and commitment to electronics. Underneath Benny Andersson’s churchy organ work is a synth line that would make the very early Depeche Mode proud.
A big chunk of Abba Voyage is, of course, devoted to the Chiquititas, Fernandos, Mamma Mias and Waterloos of playlist overkill. It’s a theatre performance, with a 7.45 start and matinees, rather than a gig. Quite a lot of big numbers accompany this production, which really does recapture much of the essence of one of the biggest bands in the world in their prime, give or take a slightly glassy expression here and there. One thousand animators worked on digitising footage of the four, who were filmed performing their songs by 120 motion capture cameras, then projected on this 65m pixel screen. This purpose-built, collapsible 3,000-capacity venue was designed to be shipped elsewhere with a relatively smaller carbon footprint. The surround sound is terrific (291 speakers), the 10-piece band are lively, fleshing out the 70s and 80s-era vocals. The many descending ropes of light are not a million miles away from Four Tet’s mesmerising, immersive rave shows.
The biggest number, though, is the bottom line. This venture needs to rake back £140m to break even. It has been a deliriously expensive undertaking, in which corporate sponsors, branding and ads are conspicuous by their absence. Until now, the most futuristic ersatz gig I have seen was Billie Eilish’s augmented reality livestream of 2020, in which a giant luxury car “raced” around the stage, footing some of the bill, no doubt. There is one sponsor here: the shipping company that will, eventually, take this nostalgic, future-forward circus elsewhere.
It is only natural to muse which megastars might attempt to copy Abba’s 21st-century travelling show. But the group’s deep pockets – the Mamma Mia! millions? – and detail-savvy creative control have ensured that this quest is one that few will undertake, at least with such surefootednesss.
Because the most enduring pleasure of the whole endeavour is exactly how uncheesy Voyage is; how it is not a Madame Tussauds with go-faster stripes. A kind of Scandinavian classiness is built into everything from the building’s exterior pine construction on up to the tunes themselves, in which stoicism and good sense barely hide the unbridled misery of a series of leave-takings.
When All Is Said and Done and The Winner Takes It All deliver their bleak payload, even as they are sung by ghosts in the machine. And that misused Alan Partridge theme tune, Knowing Me, Knowing You, claws back much of its shard-like poignancy. The eye-popping treatment suggests a fracturing hall of mirrors, in which the members of Abba split up, embrace and fall apart again.
Abba Voyage continues at the Abba Arena, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20, until 28 May 2023
Is the ABBA Voyage worth it? ›
Ultimately, these ABBA songs are too good, this show is so enjoyable, so spectacularly envisioned and realised, those renderings of ABBA on-stage are so detailed, as to feel real, that you can so easily suspend your disbelief.Is the ABBA concert good? ›
The show was excellent, all the classics played and it's a good vibe with everyone dancing. The production and lighting are fantastic and definitely worth going to even if you're not a huge ABBA fan!What are the best seats for ABBA Voyage? ›
Seats on the sides of the Auditorium are generally close in price to the Dance Floor. Seats in the center section, H, deliver the widest and most symmetrical view. They're the best seats and therefore expensive—expect £102 to £175 ($125 to $214) each, depending on demand.Is the ABBA Voyage concert real? ›
ABBA Voyage is a virtual concert residency by the Swedish pop group ABBA. The concerts feature virtual avatars (dubbed 'ABBAtars'), depicting the group as they appeared in 1977. The concerts are held in a purpose-built venue at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, officially called the ABBA Arena.Can you dance in the seats at ABBA Voyage? ›
Get closer to the action with our Dance Floor tickets. These tickets are for standing (or dancing) only, so you'll be closer to the stage than anyone else and free to dance anywhere within the area. We have eight Dance Booths in total, four for up to 10 people and four for up to 12 people.How well is ABBA Voyage selling? ›
1 on the Official Albums Chart, with physical sales accounting for 90% of its first week tally. Of that sum, almost 30,000 units were vinyl, making it the fastest-selling release in that format this century, eclipsing the 24,500 first-week vinyl sales of Arctic Monkeys' 2018 effort Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.Do people dress up for ABBA Voyage concert? ›
Yes, under 18s are very welcome within the Oceanbird Departure Lounge. Is there a Dress Code? The ABBA Voyage concerts will be an exciting event, and many guests will be dressed up for the time of their lives! However, there is absolutely no dress code for the concerts or for the Oceanbird Departure Lounge.What to expect at ABBA Voyage? ›
What will you see at ABBA Voyage? Those avatars, based on the reunited Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad perform every single number. The singers are backed by a live 10-piece band, accompanying ABBA's avatars on all their hits and bringing that immersive energy to the room.Can you take photos at ABBA Voyage? ›
Photography and filming within the auditorium is strictly prohibited. You are responsible for your belongings when attending the ABBA Arena. ABBA Voyage accepts no responsibility for any personal property brought to the venue.What should I wear to ABBA concert? ›
There is no official dress code for the evening. Expect to see a mix of ABBA fancy dress, Donna dungarees and normal evening out attire.
How early should I get to ABBA Voyage? ›
Doors to the ABBA Arena open 1 hour 45 minutes before the concert, so you can arrive early to make the most of all our bar and food outlets which will all be open before the concert starts. Upgrade to the ultimate ABBA Voyage experience with access to the exclusive Oceanbird Departure Lounge.How long does ABBA Voyage concert last? ›
The concert is 90 minutes long and there is no interval. Doors open 1 hour 45 minutes before the start of the concert. The performance will start promptly and latecomers will not be admitted until a suitable break in the performance.
Instead of flesh and blood ABBA, the show is performed by life-sized, animated CGI avatars of the four members, restored by technology to their pop star primes. (ABBAtars, the producers call them.)Is ABBA Voyage all seated? ›
Tickets. The ABBA Arena has a wide variety of seated, standing & accessible tickets, take a look below for more information. Choose from a wide variety of seats at a range of different prices depending on where you'd like to sit. Pricing is based on the location of the seats, but every seat is a good one.Is ABBA Voyage a hologram? ›
But then, this past May, they did. The occasion was the opening night of ABBA Voyage, their new virtual-concert residency in London, and they were there to take a bow for a performance they had not (technically) given. Voyage stars computer-generated clones of the band designed to look and sound like their 1979 selves.Can you take water into ABBA Voyage? ›
Inside, you are met with a choice of food and drink outlets (ABBA water with a reusable bottle for £4.50.Can I take a bag to ABBA Voyage? ›
There is a cloakroom with limited space at the ABBA Arena, and visitors should bring only what is necessary to performances. Any bags larger than a handbag or small rucksack must be left in the cloakroom and not taken into the auditorium. What security measures are there at the ABBA Arena?What food is available at ABBA Voyage? ›
In the venue, you can find four public bars, a Prosecco bar and a concourse eatery serving hot dogs, deli sandwiches and sweet treats. The Oceanbird Lounge at ABBA Voyage is a premium hospitality space, where you can enjoy free-flowing food and drink before the concert.Who sings lead vocals on ABBA Voyage? ›
A slow-paced ballad with Agnetha on lead vocals, 'I Can Be That Woman' disconcertingly spends much of the first verse focused on the family dog, 'Tammy'.How many seats did ABBA Voyage have? ›
ABBA Arena Capacity
The ABBA Arena has a capacity of 1562 seats.
Should I wear shorts or jeans to a concert? ›
But when it comes to style, comfort, and practicality, you can't go wrong with a pair of jeans or shorts. Especially if it's summer and especially if the concert is outside. Sometimes a band's set can go on for hours, so ensure you'll be comfortable all night by wearing your favorite denim bottoms.Should I wear jeans to a concert? ›
The simple answer is: yes! Jeans are a must-have item not only for daily life but concert life as well. Dress up or down to fit the occasion, but rest assured that a quality pair of denim jeans will fit in at almost any live music experience.What you Cannot wear to concerts? ›
The goal is to be comfortable and safe while at the concert so it's best to ditch the flip flops or heels for flats or sneakers. Concerts are all about getting dressed up, but don't overdo it with the jewelry either. Don't wear pieces that are too big, might fall off, or will bother you while you're rocking out.Does ABBA appear at end of ABBA Voyage? ›
ABBA's Anni-Frid Lyngstad made a surprise appearance at last night's ABBA Voyage show in east London. The “revolutionary” concert series began in May at the purpose-built ABBA Arena in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.How does the ABBA hologram concert work? ›
A hologram is a virtual three-dimensional image, but the show's producers have said this isn't what they're using for the concert. Instead, they've made avatars, nicknamed ABBAtars, to appear as digital versions of Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid.How are the ABBA avatars projected? ›
Instead, the stage is taken up entirely with a gigantic and resolutely two-dimensional LED screen with a massive resolution. To the sides were two zoomed-in views of ABBA members, with a virtual camera able to move all around the characters.What will the ABBA concert look like? ›
In this so-called 'immersive digital concert experience', dancing queens Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and instrumentalists and songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus will be performing virtually via custom-built digital avatars, which have, of course, been dubbed their ABBATARS.Was ABBA Voyage album a success? ›
Voyage became ABBA's highest-charting album in the United States, entering the Billboard 200 at number two on 20 November 2021, beating their previous high of number 14 with ABBA: The Album in 1978.How long does ABBA Voyage take? ›
The concert is 90 minutes long and there is no interval. Doors open 1 hour 45 minutes before the start of the concert.
The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band topped the list, with Rolling Stone's editors describing it as "the most important rock 'n' roll album ever made". The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (1966) was ranked second in recognition of its influence on Sgt. Pepper.
Who sold more records ABBA or the Beatles? ›
|ARTIST||COMBINED SALES TOTAL|
|4||ROLLING STONES||10.1 MILLION|
Photography and filming within the auditorium is strictly prohibited. You are responsible for your belongings when attending the ABBA Arena. ABBA Voyage accepts no responsibility for any personal property brought to the venue.How to dress for an ABBA concert? ›
There is no official dress code for the evening. Expect to see a mix of ABBA fancy dress, Donna dungarees and normal evening out attire.What happens at ABBA Voyage concert? ›
What will you see at ABBA Voyage? Those avatars, based on the reunited Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad perform every single number. The singers are backed by a live 10-piece band, accompanying ABBA's avatars on all their hits and bringing that immersive energy to the room.Does the ABBA Voyage setlist change? ›
Recalling the sessions, Ludvig confirms additional performances were filmed, meaning the setlist can be changed and adapted as time passes. “We did more songs than we knew we were going to use,” he teases. “So there is more material. If playback doesn't begin shortly, try restarting your device.