ABBA have at long last announced their return, confirming details of a new album and “revolutionary” concert experience ‘ABBA: VOYAGE’ – as well as releasing two brand new songs.
Back in 2017, it was announced that the band would reunite in digital form in 2019, performing as “Abbatars” for the first time since they split in 1983. When the reunion tour was then delayed, the Swedish pop icons announced back in 2018 that they would be sharing two new tracks: ‘I Still Have Faith In You’ and ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, which was then expanded to five new tracks as a reward to fans waiting for the reunion tour due to COVID-related delays.
Now, along with the release of ‘I Still Have The Faith In You’ and ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, today (Thursday September 2) sees the band announce that all four members reunited to put together ‘ABBA: Voyage’ – a full new album and their first new music in over 40 years which will be released on November 5 on Universal Music. Check out the video for ‘I Still Have Faith In You’ below and ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’.
“First it was just two songs, then I said, ‘Maybe we should do a few others – what do you say girls?’,” said Benny Andersson during today’s press conference. “They said yeah, so I asked them, ‘Why don’t we just do a whole album?’”
Björn Ulvaeus continued: “The first song, ‘I Still Have In You’, I just knew that when Benny played the melody that it had to be about us. It’s about realising that it’s inconceivable to be where we are. No imagination could dream up that – to release a new album after 40 years and still be the best of friends, and still be enjoying each other’s company and have total loyalty. Who has experienced that? Nobody.”
Speaking during today’s press conference, the band also confirmed that the album will feature a ‘Christmas song’ called ‘Little Things’.
Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad have all been involved in motion-capturing themselves for the upcoming concert experience.
The tracks for ‘VOYAGE’ were written when assembling new music to go with their “revolutionary” new concert experience of the same name – which will see a “digital” version of ABBA perform alongside a 10-piece live band at a the purpose-built 3,000-capacity ABBA Arena at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at a run of shows from May 27, 2022.
The show will feature 22 songs, including the two new ones released today.
Today’s press conference heard how the band will be presented as digital characters of “ABBA in their prime” of 1979, created using performance capture techniques on ABBA in recent years to animate them and make them look “perfectly real”. Using 160 cameras, the band “performed every song to perfection over five weeks” with the technical team “capturing every mannerism, emotion and the soul of their beings,” to create something that’s not “a version or a copy of ABBA, but actually them.”
Explaining why the band chose London as the location for the concerts, the band said it was because “the Brits see us as their own”.
Pre-sale registration for tickets begins at at 6pm tonight, before ABBA VOYAGE tickets go on sale from 10am on Sunday September 5 for fans who have pre-ordered the album from the official ABBA store, from 10am Monday September 6, before going on general sale to the public from 10am on Tuesday September 7. Visit here for tickets and information.
Watch the ABBA Voyage announcement and press conference below.
Rather than following the trend of hologram shows, ABBA Voyage has been described a “revolution” digital version of the band made in collaboration with George Lucas’ special effects company, Industrial Light & Magic – using motion capture technology and created by an 850-strong team.
The live show was also made in collaboration with Svana Gisla (who produced Jay-Z and Beyonce‘s On the Run Tour), choreographer Wayne McGregor, Johan Renck (who directed David Bowie‘s videos for ‘Blackstar’ and ‘Lazarus’, Baillie Walsh (who has directed for Massive Attack and Bruce Springsteen) and many more.
Svana Gisla, producer, and Ludvig Andersson, producer said: “The magic of ABBA and the herculean efforts of this whole magnificent team reaches a long awaited milestone today. To be able to finally share this endeavour with the world is a proud moment for us and we can’t wait to welcome you to our arena in East London, a place where we are so happy to be.”
Director Baillie Walsh meanwhile, said: “I watched ABBA win the Eurovision song contest in 1974, and never did I imagine that 47 years later I would be with them on this extraordinary voyage. Life is weird and wonderful sometimes.”
Choreographer Wayne McGregor added: “Imagine: growing up in the North of England in the 70’s and learning to ballroom, Latin and disco dance to the incredible songs of ABBA. I was 8 and I was totally transported. Fast forward to 2020, being in Sweden and dancing with ABBA – in real life! I was about to be 50 and I was totally transported again. That is the magic of ABBA.
“We have shared many creative and joyful adventures with a bold collaborative team to make the impossible possible for ABBA Voyage: technological wizardry, state of the art immersion and entertainment innovation. And still at its searing heart we simply have new songs, new moves, classic songs, classic moves: ABBA is DANCE and always will be. See you on the dancefloor”.
Despite rumours, the mogul manager Simon Fuller has not been involved in the project.
The news comes after ABBA recently joined TikTok, and their greatest hits album ‘ABBA: GOLD’ became the first album to spend 1,000 weeks in the UK charts.
This is a developing story, check back at NME for more updates and information…
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