Tour stamps final seal on success - ABBA answer critics

By Gary Hughes in London - The Sunday Telegraph 6 February 1977

The latest photo of ABBA: now on a triumphant European tour.

The ABBA road show is rolling across Europe – and the group are putting the final stamp of success on their rise to fame.

For months, critics had been confidently saying that the Nordic quartet would not be able to produce live the same quality sound as their million-seller recordings.

ABBA proved them wrong.

At their first concert in Norway the capacity crowd at Oslo’s Ekeberg Hallen forgot about the (minus) -12C temperatures outside and sang and chanted along with the Swedish foursome.

ABBA were even better live on stage than on record.

Concert

This group will put on a final massive concert in London’s Albert Hall on February 14, before packing for their flight to Australia.

But for Anna, Frida, Benny and Björn, Australia will be more than just the final stop on their world trek.

The concerts they give in Australia will be their way of saying “thank you” to the fans who believed in them from the start.

It will come as no surprise to Australian fans that the group are being acclaimed in Europe now.

Three years ago, while the rest of the world was scorning the four and criticising the music they produced as being nothing more than catchy commercialised jingles, ABBA found an immediate rapport in Australia.

Bleak period

And it was the overwhelming loyalty and support of their Aussie fans that helped ABBA through the bleak period following their first smash hit, Waterloo.

Waterloo thrust ABBA into the international spotlight when it was voted the No.1 tune in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest.

The song had been composed by the Swedes in the peaceful setting of their island in the lake of Stockholm, with the aid of a guitar, a piano and much stomping.

They chose the title carefully – Waterloo being an internationally-recognised word for what they hoped would be an international hit.

ABBA were quietly confident of success, despite the fact that no one in the music world really  believed Sweden – never a driving force on the international pop scene – could produce the best melody in Europe.

After the glory of Waterloo faded, only Australian and Swedish fans believed in ABBA, and their encouragement, helped the group fight back up the ladder of success.

Now the group’s concert tour is taking Frida Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Anna Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus to new heights in the pop world.

The tour’s success is hardly surprising considering the usual ABBA thoroughness that went into its organisation.

No expense was spared. Björn said the group would lose nearly $750,000 in making the tour the pop event of the year.

Cream

A year’s planning went into organising the tour, six months of which were dedicated to long rehearsals to make sure the ABBA sound on stage would not disappoint the fans who had heard them only on record.

The cream of Europe’s pop technicians were hired to ensure that sound and lightning would not let the group down, special outfits were designed and made up and tones of special equipment ordered.

The four claim that the moment before going on stage at Oslo was one of their most nervous ever, but it certainly didn’t show on stage.

When ABBA step off the plane in Australia later this month they know they will have nothing to prove.

They will be performing for the sheer joy of it and hoping they can repay in some small way what Australia has done for them.

Note: Turn to page 77 for your ABBA schoolbook cover.

© 1977 The Sunday Telegraph. Thanks to Samuel Inglles