REVIEW: ABBA Voyage at ABBA Arena, London

ABBA Voyage at ABBA Arena, London

The last ABBA UK live performance took place on 11th December 1982. The Swedish quartet played ‘Thank You for the Music’ on The Late Breakfast Show hosted by Noel Edmonds almost five years before MTV launched in the UK and Europe. The love affair between the British and ABBA is so great that motion capture technology has resurrected them at their peak where a ten-piece live band plays alongside them in a London purpose-built arena named after the band.

The concert is 90 minutes long, with no intervals or support acts. Upon entry to the ABBA Arena, the incredible visuals and phenomenal lighting delightfully stun the spectator. The design of the 3000-capacity ABBA Arena ensure is superb. Everybody has an unrestricted view regardless of where one is sitting or in the dance area up front.

Before the ABBA avatars address the stage, soothing meditative music plays amidst a visual backdrop of trees and snow that reminds one of a more mature and sophisticated setting of Frozen without Olaf’s quips. Occasionally one sees a figure running through this tranquil yet mysterious setting represented by a bright speck of light. Following a brief interruption to advise the audience to switch off their phones and not to take photographs that carry the penalty of expulsion from the arena, a beautiful cacophony of woodwind instruments, including the flute and bassoon, plays.

The scenery gradually gets darker and fades to black. Our four beloved 1970s avatars of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad appear on the stage and open the set with “The Visitors” taken from their eighth 1981 studio LP, which has the same name.

The way the quartet danced and played their instruments was incredibly lifelike. The gainly hanging of their seventies-fashioned garments was convincing enough that you could reach out, touch them, and then describe their texture and thickness. Their hair was slightly less effective, and when on occasion, as with “Waterloo” when original videos accompanied performances, it was evident that the quartet had been constructed to look slightly too good and polished.

However, as with any live performance, song selection and talent of the accompanying ten-piece band is more important than aesthetics. In addition, an encore generated sincere, accelerated excitement. The accompanying visuals kept the ABBA Arena captivated throughout. The ability to hold the crowd’s attention deterred any schadenfreude curiosity from the public to see how the AI performers would react to booing, jeering, or throwing reusable ABBA water bottles towards the stage.

Whilst this set was about reliving ABBA’s heyday in the seventies and early eighties, the ability to incorporate songs from their most recent 2021 LP Voyage, their first full-length studio album in forty years, is phenomenal. “Don’t Shut Me Down” and “I Still Have Faith in You” were just as celebrated as classics such as “SOS” and “Mamma Mia”. Thank you to Stufish for designing the ABBA Arena, ES Global for building it, and most importantly, ABBA for the music that fills it.


Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 313 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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