The European tour 1974/75
ABBA’s first European tour
Actually a folkpark tour with about 25 venues was planned for the summer 1974. Because of the promotion after the victory in Brighton this tour was cancelled on April 16. One can imagine that the folkpark managers were not amused at all. ABBA concentrated on a tour in autumn instead. For this concerts originally were planned even in the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Turkey, Israel, Greece, Yugoslavia and Spain, but these plans finally were cancelled because of the small hit base. Some additional concerts, for example Zürich (Switzerland), were cancelled because of the lack of interest. The remaining tour was devided into two parts because Agnetha and Björn did not want to be away from their daughter Linda for too long.
‘I remember it as completely miserable.’ According to tour producer Thomas Johansson, it was ABBA’s European record labels who wanted ABBA to promote themselves through a concert tour. With only one major hit in Waterloo to their credit, Björn feels ‘it was too early. We hadn't built up enough credibility to sell out arenas and such.’
Carl Magnus Palm in ABBA Deluxe Edition, liner notes, p. 12
Rehearsals were done around November 5-15, 1974 in Rudbecksskolan, Stockholm-Sollentuna. Prior to the second part of the tour another week of rehearsals was spent at the Jarla theatre in Stockholm.
The tour was an average success only and not sold out everywhere outside Scandinavia. Some concerts even were cancelled because of low interest. Several press reviews were rather negative or written in a mocking way.
We thought that we would be turning some people away here and there. Especially in Germany and in Austria, where our records were always at the top of the charts. We also thought that we would be singing in front of a younger audience. The majority of people in the crowd were at least twenty-five to thirty years old.
With ABBA I had a nice experience. There was this terrible Grand Prix Eurovision which previously has produced some interesting people, see Udo Jürgens or Celine Dion. ABBA were also present at the time, their Waterloo was a huge success. Immediately after the Grand Prix I addressed their Swedish tour producer. He was a friend who has made our concerts in Sweden. I urgently wanted to get ABBA to Germany, but it was a financial flop. People indeed have listened to ABBA, they were the winner of the competition, but they couldn't imagine yet, if that will also be a great night where you get great entertainment for two hours. So I have lost money with the first ABBA tour, but I retrieved this money later by several times through sold-out large halls.
German tour promoter Fritz Rau (2009)
Much skin and a hot show
[...] Benny and Annafrid were sure after two successful concerts: “We made it in Germany.” Anna and Björn, the two pessimists of Abba, didn't dare to be joyful: “Perhaps we still will fail...”
Meanwhile this is for sure: all seven shows were a big success for the four Swedes (the Düsseldorf concert had to be cancelled because of TV duties). Despite their fear of the test of fire in Germany. This was because these were Abba’s first live gigs since the victory with “Waterloo” in Brighton. They had worked on their 90-minutes non-stop show for three months:
– Annafrid and Anna did two hours of dancing lessons each day. The result: they swirled on stage like Las Vegas girls.
– Benny and Björn got Sweden’s seven best studio musicians together for a first class background band.
– However, the main reason for the hot atmosphere at the concerts was: Abba showed much skin. More than any group before. The most courageous were Björn and Annafrid. Björn wore a skin-tight glittering suite in a Mick Jagger style. Annafrid appeared in a short bolero and a mini-skirt dagged 18 times. “From us as Swedes one just expects to look sexy”, Annafrid says. “And we have no problem with showing much skin. The main thing is that the music stays most important. And for our most recent single ‘So Long’ we got a great reception at our shows....."
Gerold Büchelmaier, BRAVO 51/1974, p. 15
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