Memories of ABBA’S 1977 Australian Tour
When ABBA came to Australia in February and March 1976 to film the television special The Best Of ABBA for the Channel 9 show Bandstand, it was reported that ABBA would return later in the year for a full scale concert tour. After several months of speculation, it was announced in September that ABBA would perform concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth in March 1977. There was much outrage in the press that tickets for the concerts would cost $9 or more! When tickets went on sale in October fans all over the country queued for hours to secure tickets.
ABBA arrived in Australia at 9.15 p.m. on Sunday, February 27, 1977. Over one thousand fans that had gathered at the International Terminal of Sydney Airport hoping to get a glimpse of the group were disappointed when ABBA were taken through a back exit after posing for some news photographers in a side room of the terminal.
In addition to the members of ABBA, the tour party consisted of ABBA’s manager Stig Anderson, Benny’s son Peter and Frida’s son Hans, tour promotion personnel, a 12 piece band including three backing singers, backstage crew, film and recording crew for ABBA The Movie, plus a 17 piece Australian orchestra. The total tour party was over 100 people!
The Sydney Press Conference, Sebel Town House
ABBA’s first major appearance on the Australian tour was at the press conference at the Sebel Town House in Elizabeth Bay on Monday, February 28, starting at 11.30 am. They answered many questions for the assembled media, posed for photographs and received a number of gold record awards from their local record company, RCA. Though two hundred media representatives were invited, over three hundred crowded into the hotel.
During that first week of March Sydney had been drenched by torrential rain, which showed little sign of letting up. Fans were anxious as the media speculated that the first concert in Sydney may be cancelled due to the weather. During these first days of March ABBA were kept busy with interviews and sound rehearsals at the concert venue.
Rehearsing the dance routine for "The Girl With The Golden Hair"
Eventually the decision was made that the concert would go on, so ABBA's Australian debut would take place as scheduled on Thursday March 3rd.
As I lived in Canberra, Australia's national capital, I had to travel to Sydney that afternoon with my mother (who'd completely surprised me by buying the tickets when they went on sale) and sister (who by this stage was sick of ABBA and into KISS!) to attend the concert. We arrived at around 5 p.m., by which time much of the arena was already filled, so we took our seats in the stands. Unfortunately my mother wouldn't let me go down to the front for a better view, so we had to watch the whole concert through binoculars.
The audience at Sydney
Showground, afternoon of March 3rd.
As the afternoon wore on, stagehands continually mopped water from the stage, while announcements were made that it was "only 2 hours until the concert of the decade!", "1 hour till you get your rocks off!" Each announcement sent a huge cheer through the crowd. The sight of cars pulling up behind the stage drew wild screams from the crowd in the stands, hoping to get a glimpse of ABBA arriving, but from that distance it was hard to see exactly who was arriving. Though we were sitting in the stands, the rain still blew in, drenching us all. We donned raincoats and plastic bags, but it still didn't help. We all got wet anyway, but we didn't care: we were here to see ABBA!
© 1997 by Ian Cole, Sydney Australia