Abba Voyage: If you haven't seen it yet, you need this serotonin boost
‘I can’t believe I’m seeing this.’
I must have said this to my boyfriend at least eight times in the first 15 minutes of Abba Voyage, my first time seeing the iconic concert that celebrated its one-year anniversary on Saturday night.
I knew it’d be a spectacle; I’d heard the fawning, the praise, the glowing critique of this futuristic beast of a show that sees Abba (via their Abba-tars) brought to life in the 21st century, banging out floor-fillers from SOS to Dancing Queen, showcased in their late-1970s finest, spangled garments and all. I knew it was meant to be amazing, so I went in with expectations higher than I’d usually allow.
But even then I was still astonished, slack-jawed with awe, at what I saw in the packed Abba Arena in Pudding Mill Lane, a purpose-built stadium serving to house the wonders of motion capture technology and a bucket-load of lights (seriously, special kudos to the lighting technicians because wow – vibes.)
It didn’t feel fake or techy at all. I think I was expecting something closer to flat holograms projected 20ft tall on a blacked-out stage. What myself and other concertgoers (including very esteemed guests Sir Ian McKellen, Bob Geldof, Naomi Campbell and John Bishop, to name a few) at the star-studded one-year anniversary of Abba Voyage saw was basically as realistic a version of Agnetha Fältsko, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad as could be. I couldn’t believe they weren’t actually on the stage, and neither could those in the audience around me.
To mark the special occasion, Benny, Bjorn and Anna-Frid were actually there on the night in the audience, causing a mini-meltdown among fans in the arena (obviously) as they joined them to watch their miraculous, boundary-breaking show.
My serotonin levels were through the roof as hit after hit was projected to the audience at full pelt, every single second considered to reflect every single beat.
I couldn’t wrap my head around it, really. Abba, reimagined as life-sized avatars, were dancing with terrifyingly realistic human mannerisms and movements, and even had those between-song chatty interludes you expect from an artist on a stage. Some moments were blown out of proportion, massive lighting displays and gigantic visuals filling the entire stadium – others were pared back, subtle, and moving. My boyfriend shed a tear at one point. It was so realistic and yet unworldly.
From Fernando and Mamma Mia to Lay All Your Love On Me (the Tron-style outfits were a high point), to the brilliant 10-piece live band taking over for a bombastic rendition of Does Your Mother Know, to the spellbinding finale and encore, every single second of Abba Voyage was A Moment. No wonder more than a million people have come to see it over the past year, with many coming back for third, fourth, fifth times.
I’m sure I’ll be back again, mainly just to make sure what I was seeing and hearing did actually happen, and to get that serotonin boost once again. I don’t think anything else could top it.
Abba Voyage is now booking until May 2024.
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