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ABBA The Concerts

The tours and live performances 1970-1982

Personal note by a deeply disappointed long-time fan
Shortly after the official announcement of new songs there was the big disappointment to have learned that the new songs were recorded just for marketing purposes for that avatar project instead out of sheer fun. This was followed by delay after delay which turned the once new material into borderline oldies in 2021 (which is the recent date for a release). That even after all the delays at least the male half of ABBA stubbornly sticks with the original plans is not just a desaster in terms of marketing and public relations, it is simply ridiculous. As there is no public word from Agnetha and Frida they apparently agree with this policy or tolerate it as a group’s decision.

So to all four ABBA members:
This has become an almost endless ridiculous and ashaming story. It damages your reputation.
Of course you musically don’t owe us anything, but please stop fooling your fans just for business reasons.
At the end it’s the fans who turned ABBA into this ongoing success by buying your records
and merchandise through the decades.

The forgotten chapter

ABBA’s live performances have been a difficult topic almost from the beginning. The ABBA members always had a special relationship with live performances. Especially Agnetha didn’t feel completely comfortable with touring and being on stage.

quoteFor me touring was about everything I didn’t like; too long away from the children, long journeys, changing hotels every day, time changes. Perhaps just because the whole thing was so hard, the audiences’ enthusiastic reception was a fantastic contrast and an incredible joy.
The moments when the songs, the orchestra and the audience are totally absorbed by the music are wonderful and make all the hard work and innumerable concerts in strange towns in different continents worthwhile. You forget your ego and go into another state. You convey something of yourself, but the audience also gives a lot in return.

Agnetha in As I Am, p. 86

quoteOne thing that I particularly noticed in Australia was that it makes no difference whether there are five thousand or fifty thousand in the crowd: I was still equally stressed and nervous. It seems the greater your success the greater the audiences’ expectations and impatience, while at the same time you demand more and more of yourself.
The surrounding mechanism becomes incredibly complicated, with more and more people involved, people you never get time to know or even recognise. I imagine that it would be even worse to perform before small audiences in a little bar than in front of a big crowd. It is more intimate, revealing, almost like working in close-up the whole time – where every feature and expression is seen. When you’re standing on stage in front of a huge sea of people, there’s a certain anonymity. Obviously, what helped a lot was the assurance between the four of us, the musicians and everyone else on stage.

Agnetha in As I Am, p. 75

Also, the longer ABBA was around the more there was the goal to sound live as equal as possible as on their studio recordings and even with the distance of several decades now they often describe their live versions as inferior and therefore not suitable for release.

Because of ABBA’s mixed feelings about live performances it probably is no surprise that ‘ABBA live’ is a neglected aspect of ABBA’s career. ABBA’s reluctant policy regarding more live material becoming available is just one aspect. Officially published background material, photo books or even some more stories told by ABBA themselves are still rather rare. The anniversary year 2014, celebrating ABBA’s victory with Waterloo in 1974, brought some significant and long-awaited additions as until then the bonus interview on ABBA The Movie Limited Edition was one of the very few releases offering a more in-depth view on the backgrounds. However, especially the first tours (but not only those) still are badly remembered
or documented. In most of the numerous biographies and photo books about ABBA the concerts are a neglected aspect as well.

This is not only sad alone because it does not tell the full story. Looking at the databases and archives of photographers, photo agencies and TV stations one can also see how many great and interesting pictures there still are – undisplayed, unpublished. The official and inoffical audio and video material available shows that there’s much which nobody has to feel ashamed of. But yet even essential things like the concert part of Dick Cavett meets ABBA weren’t released in full. The Wembley album or the book ABBA Backstage seemed to be good signs for a generally more relaxed feeling regarding live and tour material, but as nothing happened again since 2014 it doesn’t really looks like that.

As of spring 2016 there were rumors about an upcoming 1977 live album in 2017 and also a new release of ABBA The
Movie
, but neither did happen and according to the information given at the fanclub day 2018 in Stockholm a release was rejected by ABBA for the time being. It’s disappointing that the anniversaries of major ABBA events don’t get more “official” attention anymore, neither by interesting releases of original material nor by online articles or galleries or even books. So everything seems to be focussed on the promotion for the upcoming “Abbatars”.

ABBA The Concerts
ABBA live 1970-1982

TheConcerts