Agnethas Recollections of the Australian Tour
As I Am: ABBA
Before & Beyond by Agnetha Fältskog with Brita Åhman
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 of me and Id never get away again. Is 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. Its a thin line between ecstatic celebration and menace. It can turn around in a flash.
I dont 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 bodyguards and police around the clock, and always drove with the doors locked.
I was often worried that someone would get run over, when they threw themselves in front of the car or hurled themselves at it and began pounding on it. Sometimes it got frightening, and we were forced to use excessive speed to get through the crowds.
The fans never left us alone and photographers were everywhere, even in the hotels. They were with us constantly. If we wanted to be alone we had to make secret plans, perhaps have a boat pick us up from a jetty somewhere.
So, there was a lot of pressure. Lasse Hallströmss film crew also demanded a lot of our time and attention.
On the night of the premiere in Sydney, on the 3rd March, the city was hit by torrential rain. The rain hammered down and the open-air stage was covered in water. A huge crowd had gathered and, of course, you wondered if there would be a show for them at all.
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 crowd in the lurch, which was so much appreciated that we have probably never received such a rapturous reception anywhere - when we ran on to the stage it seemed the ovation would never end.
The stage was very slippery and at one point Frida fell over and really bumped herself. She quickly composed herself and we carried on without delay.
One thing 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 youre standing on stage in front of a huge sea of people, theres a certain anonymity,. Obviously, what helped a lot was the assurance between the four of us, the musicians and everyone else on stage.
When we got back to Stockholm again the rest of ABBA - The Movie was recorded, on home turf.
I was expecting my second child, Christian, who was born on the 4th December, which was more important than anything else that happened to me in 1977.
©1996 Brita Åhman. Translated from Swedish by Alpha International Translations