Europe & Australia
The tour was devided into two parts because Agnetha and Björn didn't want to be away from their daughter Linda for too long. In total there was an audience of 250,000 people (100,000 in Europe and 150,000 in Australia). The tour costumes were re-used on the Japanese TBS TV special in 1978.
Beginning in December 1976 preparations and rehearsals were done at Glenstudios (January) and at the Europafilm studios in Stockholm. For the ABBA World exhibition a (silent) video of about 3:10 was made with material filmed by Jack Churchill. It only was shown at the Sydney exhibition 2011 and illustrates how they worked on the stage design and the choreography. Apparently it was filmed just for documentation purposes or a possible inclusion in ABBA The Movie and perhaps will be on display again at the permanent ABBA museum in Stockholm.
Honestly I’m afraid of our world tour in spring when we also will come to Germany. I'm trembling with fear that we cannot fullfill the huge expectations of the fans. Even though we already have rehearsed our shows almost daily since November. But when you had so many hits like we did there always are enough people just waiting for you to fall on your nose.
Frida in BRAVO 52/1976, p. 38
As described in Carl Magnus Palm’s 2017 edition of The Complete Recording Sessions (p. 228-231) ABBA recorded a rehearsed set list on January 7 at Glenstudios:
- 1 Tiger
- 2 That’s Me
4 He Is Your Brother
6 Sitting In The Palmtree
7 Money, Money, Money
8 I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do
9 Dum Dum Diddle
10 When I Kissed The Teacher
11 Knowing Me, Knowing You
12 Rock Me
- The section I’m carry not the kind of girl you’d marry is repeated three times as it would in concert, but the rehearsal version ends with the words That’s Me before it segues over to Waterloo
13 I’ve Been Waiting For You
- Rock Me features some improvised lines by Björn in the second chorus
14 Mamma Mia
16 Why Did It Have To Be Me
17 Thank You For The Music
- Starts with the piano intro later used for I Wonder (Departure).
18 So Simple (I Wonder, assumed working title)
- Starting without narration and featuring different lyrics in the chorus:
What would life be?
Without a song, just a burden to bear
So I am, thanks to all the music
The girl with golden hair.
19 I’m A Marionette
- Swedish narration by Björn
Here is where the girl comes in, playing in a local band and having a very good time, but she doesn’t experience
great happiness until she meets a man, who she thinks is going to give her everything: a career, a home, happiness – everything. And then she sings to him.
Sung entirely alone by Frida I Wonder features completely different, unfinished lyrics, repeated in all verses:
So simple, it’s frightening
Is it love, this flash of lightning...
We’ll build a future
It can’t go wrong
20 Get On The Carousel
- Björn’s narration continues along the familiar story. The instrumental break is a dance-friendly riff played by saxophone and bass together with drums and percussion and on top a piano riff. Palm writes it resembles the bass riff in Do It Any Way You Wanna by People’s Choice
21 Dancing Queen
22 So Long
- In the first part of the song Björn throws in some I wanna get on! and Oh yeah, I wanna get on, get on! phrases in his Rock Me style. This version is about 1:45 longer as it would be in concert because of some more repeats of the line get on the carousel! and some more dissonant band parts.
- Björn ends the recording “Thank you very much. We’ve done a double-LP here today.”, apart from making a joke perhaps also an indication of the original plans for a live album.
Musicians: Benny Andersson (keyboards) – Anders Eljas, Wojciech Ernest (keyboards)
Björn Ulvaeus, Finn Sjöberg, Lasse Wellander (guitars) – Rutger Gunnarsson (bass) – Ola Brunkert (drums)
Malando Gassama (percussion) – Ulf Andersson, Lars O. Carlsson (saxophones, flutes)
Lena Andersson, Lena-Maria Gårdenäs, Maritza Horn (backing vocals)
I Am An A (it probably didn’t exist yet), Intermezzo No.1 and the reprise of Thank You For The Music weren’t included at this stage. So Long appears after Dancing Queen in opposite to the final (Australian) set list.
Benny and I had become interested in the musical form at a very early stage in our career and when we were about to go out on this tour, we thought it would be fun to have a sequence of songs that were a bit more theatrical than our other material.
I think it was I who came up with this concept, which was simple and flexible enough to fit almost any type of
song. I remember that someone asked us why we didn’t extend it to a full length musical. Well, I don’t think the story was quite good enough for that!
In total there was an European audience of about 100,000 people.
The Australian leg of the tour became legendary because of the ABBAmania going on in Australia which climaxed with the tour – and began to disappear again shortly after.
In total there was an audience of about 150,000 people with many more listening from outside the outdoor venues. Ticket costs were A$ 9-12. Costs for the tour were about A$ 700,000. In Europe Frida wore satin slacks for all concerts. For the Australian leg costume designer Owe Sandström made a short version as requested by Frida and they apparently brought both versions to Australia, but it seems Frida only wore the shorts there.
We’d had so many offers to go to Australia and we said, ‘No, it’s too far away.’ I don’t think anyone, [except] maybe Frida, wanted to go on this tour... Benny and I had realised a long time ago that the song is the important thing. In those days, you didn’t even make any money touring. Production [of the shows] was so expensive [with] a lot of people and stuff. And apart from the time you’re on stage, the rest is utterly, utterly boring and unproductive.
Björn, The Weekend Australian Magazine March 3-4, 2007, p. 18
2,000 fans came to Sydney airport for ABBA’s arrival on February 27. Newspapers predicted even more than 10,000 people and so the airport authorities warned fans to stay away.
Yes, the Australian tour was the most incredible of all the things that I experienced with ABBA. There was fever, there was hysteria, there were ovations, there were sweaty, obsessed crowds.
Sometimes it was awful. I felt as if they would get hold on me and I'd never get away again. It was as if I was going to be crushed. On occasions they would grab hold of us in the most unpleasant ways and there were times when we cried once we were inside the car.
No one who has experienced facing a screaming, boiling, hysterical crowd could avoid feeling shivers up and down their spine. It’s a thin line between ecstatic celebration and menace. It can turn around in a flash.
I don't think anyone could stay the same after such an encounter. It affects your personality. It remoulds you and can be the source of phobias. Naturally, it depends on how sensitive you are. Nonetheless I never felt that my life was in danger in Australia. Enthusiasm and warmth were always present too. We had a large security force of body guards and police around the clock, and always drove with the doors locked.
Agnetha in As I Am, p. 72ff
We had a situation getting out of the Myer Music Bowl when our car was lifted and moved into a different direction. That’s how many people were tugging... We had to get outand try to find our way through because you literally couldn’t see – it was just a sea of people.
Trainer and bodyguard Richard Norton, The Weekend Australian Magazine March 3-4, 2007, p. 18
We’re not talking about 20 or 100 fans at the airport – we’re talking about thousands. You haven’t seen that with anyone since.
Australian promoter Paul Dainty, The Weekend Australian Magazine March 3-4, 2007, p. 16
It was completely unreal. We’d arrive at an airport and there’d be people all the way along the road, waving. I couldn’t walk outside my hotel room – no way.
Björn, The Weekend Australian Magazine March 3-4, 2007, p. 16
A lot of artists can get pretentious, but the girls didn’t even wear make-up offstage. They were so natural and down-to-earth and seemingly unaffected by who they were and how big they were, and that was really
refreshing. Just walking around in their bikinis. There were no airs. It was just a nice, disarming quality.
Trainer and bodyguard Richard Norton, The Weekend Australian Magazine March 3-4, 2007, p. 18
- According to a Bravo report it even was planned to transmit the filming on a video screen. True or a confusion with the filming for The Movie?
“We plan to do a video show which no other pop group in the world has done before”, says Björn. “TV cameras will record us live at our concerts and transmit the video directly to a huge on stage screen. This way even the people in the last rows will see everything.”
Gerald Büchelmaier, BRAVO 6/1977, p. 42
- Some short video footage does exist and circulates at Youtube, showing snippets of and around the concerts, mainly recorded by TV stations.
- According to Lasse Hallström in the interview on ABBA The Movie Limited Edition all Australian concerts were filmed with five cameras each, one steadycam on stage and four cameras on tripods. How much additional material has survived after the movie was finished is not clear.
- Official recordings of ten Australian concerts exist according to Ludvig Andersson:
[...] a while ago we sat down and talked, Mia (Segolsson) and I at Universal. We talked about the fact that there was quite a lot of live material, which I thought sounded fun, so I asked if I could have it so that I could go through it. It really was a lot – ten concerts from Australia, [...]
Ludvig Andersson in ABBA Fan Club Magazine #120
- There is also a live recording of the February 14 Royal Albert Hall concert (in 2014 a snippet was announced for a digital release, but it didn’t happen).
One of the shows was also recorded on 24-track tape by a London production company called La Maison Rouge, founded by prog band Jethro Tull. Intriguingly, on the tape box the client was listed as Atlantic Records, suggesting that the recording was made to give ABBA’s American record company a flavour of what they were like as a live act. With no apparent involvement by Michael B. Tretow, the engineers were Maison Rouge-employees Robin Black and Trevor White, and the producer was Dave Dee [...] It is not known whether this recording was ever mixed down
- In an interwiew in January 2019 with Icethesite Ludvig Andersson said that the 1977 live material wasn’t as good as the Wembley recordings:
It is true that I wanted to see if I could work with some of the Australia 1977 material as well but in terms of recording quality it was unfortunately not up to the standard that we could release.
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