The tour 1977 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 later re-used on the Japanese TBS TV special in 1978.
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!
Björn in The Complete Recording Sessions (2017), p. 229
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
As an official sponsor of ABBA’s 1977 Australian tour, Qantas provided the Swedish pop group with some
on-trend airline merchandise: bespoke white bomber jackets. One of the jackets is now on display at ABBA The Museum in Stockholm.
Qantas Travel Insider, March 9, 2020 – What do the Queen and ABBA Have in Common?
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
‘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
[...] 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
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
Carl Magnus Palm, The Complete Recording Sessions (2017), p. 232
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.
In ABBA The Movie Limited Edition Benny explains that the Mini-Musical wasn't supposed to be the highlight of the show. Regarding this he rather thinks of Fernando and Dancing Queen.
Introduction with the sound of a helicopter
(about 40 seconds; for the Australian outdoor concerts replaced with a longer introduction of Tiger)
Management & technicians (incomplete)
Four trucks carried 30 tons of equipment, 50 people were involved.
More information about people on the official site (Story –>The people).
Management & technicians (incomplete)
Four trucks carried 30 tons of equipment, 50 people were involved. In Australia there were another 30 people for the film crew and additional 17 musicians for the strings as according to union rules there had to be as many Australian musicians on the show as musicians from abroad. These additional strings only were used for the final part of the show when they were lifted up on the stage behind the regular orchestra for I Wonder.
More information about people on the official site (Story –>The people).
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 for a possible inclusion in ABBA The Movie and perhaps will be on display again at the permanent ABBA museum in Stockholm.
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:
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.
Click on each entry to open/close a window with details.
An outer of gold
ABBA won everyone’s hearts when the smiling and honest demonstrated their amazing sound system and ended with the reply: It’s so good that anyone can do this after us.
But, it is a mild exaggeration, because even though it may be a lot to put your finger on the musical and textual content of their world fame, the four middle-aged youths are immensely professional in the performance and grasp of their audience. In Biblical robe style, ABBA, which means father in the same box language, preached a heyday of Waterloo for light-hearted hearing and vision equipment. 30 square meters of speaker system and a never-resting candlestick, which alternated between hell’s red to ice-blue and poisonous green, were the frame of view around show. As well as a large and well-played orchestra and over 6,000 audiences who had been expecting from large car queues in the area Østbanen / Lambertseter. On a shelf in the wall, under the sign
“heime - burte”, the Crown Prince Couple was welcomed with “I have a tulle with eyes blue”. Then it broke loose with SOS and “I’m a tiger”. For it should be said that ABBA is not quite as innocent in its appearance as good people like to think. Sex is a major ingredient in their show, and the Swedish girls in silver tricot turned the butt to the audience a little more often than what normal hindsight would indicate. But it’s not the first time Swedes have shown Norwegians their back in a sports hall. Which, by the way, surprised with excellent acoustics. Now, ABBA is not known to drive in lowered audiences with catastrophic volume, but it did well when the bass guitarist tore strings like hardest and the two parallel-playing drummers used maximum armor. And yet the sounds separated and listened more closely.
The blowing group brought in was of high quality, and the music arrangements were first-rate for their use, although we came up with the reprehensible thought that they were written more to cover than to emphasize the qualities of the group’s beaters. On the whole, the external effect was fierce, the spouse’s use of sound and light has never been heard and seen in Norway. With the full blast on the machines, the two girls sang as 100 Anita Hegerlander, while the guys stayed more discreet in the background. The overall impression was very sympathetic. As kind and neat as the four are, they gather the generations in unanimous joy. It is the first time in the history of entertainment music that children and mother and grandfather understand each other’s tastes. In this fact, much of ABBA’s success lies, but also a part of their musical neglect. They strive for, and have the talent for, instantly captivating fighters who do not encounter anyone, and present them with the well-educated skills of the international artist.
The audience took the event with stoic calm, but it was quite clear that the show fell into taste. However, it should not be pushed under the chair that the pace dropped towards the end, as tradition is in sports halls. The newly created mini-musical about the little amateur who became a star, and did not know how tiring it was, made no lasting impression. On the other hand, it did ABBA as stage people, and the show as a sparkling butcher cabaret.
Øyvind Thorsen, Aftenposten (Norway), January 29, 1977
ABBA in Oslo - The goodness symphony
Stunned cheers when ABBA appeared, but no one whistled and stamped, such as does ABBA’s audience. Then the applause became milder for each song. After an hour, half the concert, I saw several go, and in halls outside there was a queue outside the slot machine.
Yet, the world’s most popular group appears publicly for the first time in a long time. Premiere in a sports hall in Oslo, the tour now goes to other cities with large halls down Europe and ends February 14 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Then on to Australia.
Little joy came after a song that was fast and strong and could be mistaken for rock. It was in the air that the young people wanted to dance, but it didn’t. Cheers also when ABBA pretended to leave the line.
We have to sit in place well before, as when Ingmar Bergman directs at the Dramat. So great expectations have to come. Carbon black – and a threatening engine noise. And so, full light and the drape away; there they were four in ABBA with nine musicians and three singers, all in white. Annifrid and Agneta had a silver cover with wide sleeves.
Were they dressed up as angels? No, it was probably jiujistu clothes.
They started with “Tiger”. Continuing with old numbers from the records, “Waterloo” arrived quite early and got distracted applause. Then the girls took off their silver caps and it helped a little. The big thrill spurred only later when they came in white swimsuits.
Björn and Benny were yawned, one could not and the other was too thick, they said. The girls sometimes stretched out one arm, and in turn they turned and showed their tails. In honorary honor, Crown Prince Harald and his princess sat.
It went surprisingly quietly on the estuary: no massive or elaborate gestures. The three girls in the chorus tied up their heads a few times.
ABBA is mainly aimed at girls around the age of 15, all in the most special and perplexing years. On the breathtaking threshold between children and adults. They sing about a girls who dared to kiss their teacher, if the queen of the dance teased with the guys, lit them up and sticks.
Actually, it is not music they sell, but the dream of success, the big lift that in one stroke will give a villa by the sea or at least a two-roomer on the eighth floor with its own key.
They sing about the girl who hopes to close a rich man, so their advice sounds. If you can’t do that, you will be traveling to Las Vegas and winning the luck of the casino. The same kind of songs sings Git Gay and Anita Lindblom.
The song “Money, money” is an effective and unexpected melody, and arrangements have contrasts. I think many of the hundreds of Swedish groups that are better than ABBA, some have to learn from them when it comes to dramatic effects.
They revealed a dream: to put their music in context. Then came a 25 minute cavalcade of melodies that told the story of an unknown singer from the country who became famous and made tours around the world but became a puppet.
This game was made with magnificent effects of smoke and flashing lights in different colors, but stiff and lifeless, as if they actually didn't see the game being about them stealing.
It became extra mechanic, since ABBA’s sound is fierce. Although I heard several records and now heard them in reality, I do not know how they sing. One hears some hissing voices in the distance, inside a chubby drunk. They make the appearance of being natural and show themselves openly, but only tell slogans.
And about kindness. They send out songs of tolerance and hide behind bodyguards called gorillas. They believe that their audience is of a sufficiently uncertain age to be cork. It is a stupor of humanity so amazingly large and pretentious that it is swallowed by pure genius.
This was the most political music I’ve ever heard.
Ingemar Glanzelius, Dagens Nyheter, January 29, 1977
On tour in Germany: ABBA super like never before!
The start of the Abba show was deafening: the sound of helicopters roared as if a helicopter were flying into the hall, circling the room and finally going down on the stage. After this acoustic gag the curtain opened solemnly and there they stood: Björn, Anna, Annafrid and Benny – tanned and in bright white suits.
Right from the start Abba shot down a hit-firework with “Waterloo”, “SOS”, “Money, Money” and “I do”,
which left the audience barely any time to applaud. The sound was hard to beat perfection. Together with the nine-piece band (two drums!) And the three choir girls, Abba brought every one of her hits down to the smallest detail as well as on record.
Especially for this tour Abba had composed four songs with which each member imagined witty with his strengths and weaknesses. “I’m shy and do not like to shave,” Björn said. And Benny sang, “I have a lot of talent and I like to drink that.”
After this special insert came the already loudly demanded by the audience hits “Mama Mia” and “Fernando”. In “Why has it to be me”, Annafrid pulled off a microphone stand show that overshadowed even Mick Jagger’s wild gestures.
And then came the surprise: Suddenly, two girls in tight white jerseys and blond tousled wig stood on the stage. They sing in a mini-musical the “Girl with the golden hair”, which is discovered because of her beautiful voice and makes career overnight. For a few minutes, the audience wondered who might be hiding behind the “twins” on stage. With the wigs the two girls then also revealed this secret: It was Anna and Annafried, whom one had never seen so sexy.
For the encore, they appeared in super-mini mini-dresses and sang in chorus with the audience their “Dancing Queen”, while behind them in huge luminous letters the word “Abba” flashed. After 120 minutes of nonstop show and 24 songs, Abba said goodbye in German with "Goodbye, we thank you, we will never forget you" from the cheering crowd, “We’ve had success everywhere with our show,” Annafrid says afterwards in the dressing
room, “but the German fans have clearly given us the warmest welcome.”
Gerald Buchelmaier, BRAVO 8/1977, p. 6
“It was especially scary to be playing in front of a British audience,” admitted Agnetha. “We were terribly nervous about playing that first night in Birmingham. After all, it’s classic ground in terms of pop music.”
Paul Cole, Birmingham Mail online – April 5, 2014
I'm amused that journalist Camilla Lundberg has written the liner notes for the album [Piano]. Forty years ago she wasn’t exactly a fan of Benny’s music. In her review of ABBA’s Birmingham concert in February 1977 she wrote about their music that, “It is anything but varied, as is well-known. Nor is it beautiful, nor innovative.” Admittedly, while more or less dismissing three quarters of the group, she noted that “Benny Andersson is the most interesting ABBA member. He is actually a real musician, he is the most spontaneous and most credible of them,” but for the most part the review was a discussion of ABBA as a product, pushing the angle of how everything they did was part of a “plan”, as was quite common back then. Lundberg is of course allowed to change her mind about Benny’s music, but it still surprises me how critical assessment of ABBA and their members has evolved and changed over the years, to the extent that some of their fiercest critics are now a part of Benny’s circle of friends.
Carl Magnus Palm, Benny Andersson’s Piano album - a review and some further thoughts – October 3, 2017
The concerts at the Albert Hall in England were unforgettable. The English were crazy about us. The Albert Hall was sold out a long way in advance and we could easily have stayed and packed it out for weeks.
When the concerts began it was ecstatic. After the opening number, when both we and the audience had calmed down, it was great when the tempo got its second wind. Some magic moments ensued.
Agnetha in As I Am, p. 87
‘I remember a moment in the middle of the Albert Hall night when I thought, Good grief, Benny, this is you sitting here playing at the Albert Hall. For a little while I could not believe it was me there. It was very hard for me to sit steady on my stool.’
Anni-Frid added: ‘I managed to control my nerves. At the end of the show, when the audience went wild, it was a real pleasure to be on stage!’
Agnetha had a different impression: ‘I was terribly nervous during the first show. I felt really strange and couldn’t move, I couldn’t calm myself down.’
Björn concluded by saying: ‘Some people say that London audiences are difficult. Maybe they are at first, but after that: wow!’
ABBA The Book, p. 145
We hardly had time for a sound check, so we were just praying to God that everything would work.
Benny in Bright Lights, Dark Shadows
We were terrified. We could have been electrocuted.
Björn in Bright Lights, Dark Shadows
We waited a long time for the rain to ease up. With so much electrical equipment around, guitars, microphones, sockets and so on, it made performing risky. However, we decided not to leave the soaking audience in the lurch, which was so much appreciated that we have probably never received such a rapturous reception anywhere – when we ran on the stage it seemed the ovation would never end.
Agnetha in As I Am, p. 75.
That rain! It did stop for a short time – and everyone got covered in bugs – including ABBA – then it started again. We didn’t care.
Roxanne Dickson, ABBA Fanatic, October 1, 2016
Paul [Dainty, the Australian promoter] and I [looked] at alternative sites to stage the shows at the back
end of the tour, but we really didn’t find any sites that could take 45,000 people, so we said the shows have to play. I had to convince [the group] to perform and the crew that we could do it safely.
ABBA’s tour manager Thomas Johansson, The Weekend Australian Magazine March 3-4, 2007, p. 19
Not everyone remembers the time Frida’s wig flew off while performing The Girl with the Golden Hair during Abba’s 1977 Australian tour. But it is seared into the memory of Ingmarie Halling. It was her first gig as hair and make-up stylist for Abba, having deserted the Swedish ballet company on the eve of a Russian tour to travel with the band to Australia. She was responsible for attaching the wig to Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s hair. “In the first dance the wig came off – whoosh – swished off her head. I thought, ‘Now I'm going to be sent home’,” Halling says. But when Frida came off stage, the recriminations never came. “She was just laughing, as she does all the time. She still has a good laugh about that today.”
The Sydney Morning Herald, December 16, 2010
First, when you drive out from the airport and you see the street actually lined up all the way from the airport to the city, you don't even believe your eyes. And then you understand, this is actually a reception for us, nobody else. It's not the president coming.
Frida in Bright Lights, Dark Shadows.
Fan recording – March 6, 14.30?
Fan recording – March 6, 20.30
This single track is labeled as an afternoon recording of March 5 which obviously is wrong. This could be just an error about the date or a blatant fake about date and location. Either way the recording is different to the complete evening concert.
The sound quality isn't good, but it's a complete recording with all in-concert speeches (it even includes the fireworks!) and features a varied set list! The tape can be confirmed to be a Melbourne recording as Björn says "Hello Melbourne!" after Waterloo. He also says "love to see you again" and "tonight". Therefore it seems likely that this date is correct.
There’s a second, edited version of this recording with a different track list. Fernando is shifted to its usual position in the set list and announcements for the audience are inserted at the very beginning. These may have been taken from The Movie. That version is still under investigation.
Another version can be found here (2 parts), but it is of poor quaity.
Organisers unsuccessfully lobbied the state government to give schoolkids an early mark so they could line the route to the show.
Dino Scatena, The Weekend Australian Magazine March 3-4, 2007, p. 19
They have not had any time off since they arrived in Australia and they wanted a swim.
Promoter Patti Mostyn in The West Australian
We’ve had such scares before but have never taken any notice of them, it was ABBA’s decision to empty the hall.
A venue staffer according to The Weekend Australian Magazine March 3-4, 2007, p. 19
[...] someone had failed to put Benny Andersson, the pianist, in the picture. As a result, he was left sitting on the stage on his own, not realising for a while what was going on.
Unknown Perth newspaper
March 10 or 11
Björn introduces So Long as "the last song for tonight", so this may be one of the late shows.
Björn introduces So Long as “the last song for tonight”, so this may be one of the late shows.