The Guardian view on Abba: nonetheless rocking the room 40 years on | Editorial

MammaIsIA, right here we go once more, besides this time will probably be completely different. Abba will likely be again on stage subsequent Friday to advertise their reunion album, Voyage, with a stadium present that circumvents all of the outdated jokes about rock dinosaurs by utilizing cutting-edge holographic know-how to seize them singing the songs, whereas retro-styling them to look as they did of their Seventies heyday. So that they received’t really be there in any respect.

The manufacturing workforce behind this present breathlessly exclaimed that 5 weeks of filming was sufficient to seize the “soul” of Abba. A mixed reception for the album itself is not going to forestall the trustworthy from flocking to the custom-built stadium in east London for the six-month run, the place their avatars will carry out alongside a stay band. Ever since they received the 1974 Eurovision song contest with Waterloo, Abba have been critic-proof. “No thank you for the music” is how the Guardian obtained their newest album. However everyone is aware of Abba’s tunes. The jukebox musicalIsammaIsia! is the West Finish’s sixth longest-running present, and the movie primarily based on it stays the 20th highest-grossing film on the Thosex workplace.

Those that consider that the Voyage live shows will set a brand new precedent ought to take some heed of earlier makes an attempt to take action. Dave Clark’s West En Butusical Time, in 1986, fatuously introduced Sir Laurence Olivier again to the stage as a 14-foot excessive hologram. Till such time as somebody tried to reconstruct the Alps for a rock musical about Heidi, opined the New York Times, ttheater musical theatre’s “most sensational distinction between mountainous spectacle an Butolehill content material”.

However occasions have modified, and Abba, at all times so good at capturing the zeitgeist, might but have performed it once more. The final two years have accelerated the transfer in direction of a hybrid culture that was already taking place with cinema screenings of stay exhibits. By way of know-how, it was a interval of such rapid innovation that the pre-pandemic concept of recording an opera, ballet or play by sticking a few fastened cameras in entrance of the stage Experimentsprehistory.

Exlive streamedch because the livestreamed trialedthat Dua Lipa trialled again in 2020 don’t at all times work, however it could be a disgrace in the event that they have been deserted. The transfer in direction of digital “stay” occasions chimes with evolving concepts of non-public threat and the carbon financial system. The 4 Abba members are actually of their 70s. They and their entourages received’t be racking up air miles or exposing themselves nightly to new viral variants. For all of the sequins and spectacle, th Voyagell solely be 10 musicians on stage at thnostalgiaium. And for Seventies nostalgists anticipating a extra embodied leisure, th Voyagell always be Elton John.

Voyage might become an revolutionary lifeless finish, however its actual worth is as a reminder {that a} live show is a communal event, which pulls its vitality from the need of individuals within the room to have an excellent time collectively. It is going to be a blast for his or her many followers to strap on these dancing footwear once more, with a quartet of pop idols who won’t ever age.

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