The Norwegian royal couple was in the audience. To honour them ABBA did an a capella performance of the song Vi har ei tulle med öyne blå which the Norwegian Crownprincess Sonja had recorded in 1976. Apparently ABBA only sang the first verse: Vi har ei tulle med øyne blå, (We have a little baby girl with blue eyes) med silkehår og med ører små, (with silky hair and with tiny ears) og midt i fjeset en liten nese (and in the middle of the face a little nose) så stor som så. (as big as this.)
Et ytre av gull [As Google isn’t a good help here can anybody provide a complete English translation?]
ABBA vant alles hjerter da de smilende og ærlige demonstrerte sitt fantastiske lydanlegg og avsluttet med replikken: Det er så bra at hvem som helst kan gjøre dette efter oss.
Men, det er en mild overdrivelse, for selv om det kan være mye å sette fingeren på når det gjelder det musikalske og tekstlige innhold av deres verdensberømmelse, så er de fire middelaldrende ungdommene uhyre profesjonelle i fremføring og grep på sitt publikum. I bibelsk kjortel-stil forkynte ABBA, som betyr far i den samme boks sprog, et heidundrende Waterloo for lettskremte hørsel- og synsapparatur. 30 kvadratmeter høyttaleranlegg og en aldri hvilende lysmester, som vekslet mellom helvetes rødt til isblått og giftgrønt, var synsrammen rundt showet. Samt et stort og velspillende orkester og over 6000 tilhørere som forventningsfullt var kommet fra store bilkøer i området Østbanen/Lambertseter. På en hylle i veggen, under skiltet med «heime – burte», var kronprinsparet ønsket velkommen med «Jeg har en tulle med øyne blå». Så braket det løs med SOS og «Jeg er en tiger». For det skal sies at ABBA er ikke fullt så uskyldsblå i sin opptreden som godtfolk liker å mene. Sex er en hovedingrediens i deres show, og de svenske piker i sølvtrikot vendte baken til publikum litt oftere enn hva vanlig genanse skulle tilsi. Men det er jo ikke første gang svensker har vist nordmenn ryggen i en idrettshall. Som for øvrig overrasket med utmerket akustikk. Nå er ikke ABBA kjent for å kjøre i senk publikum med katastrofal lydstyrke, men det dro jo godt på når bassgitaristen slet strenger som hardest og de to parallelt spillende trommeslagerne brukte maksimal armstyrke. Og likevel lot lydene seg separere og bli lyttet nærmere på.
Den medbragte blåsegruppe var av høy kvalitet, og musikkarrangementene var førsteklasses til sitt bruk, selv om vi kom på den forkastelige tanke at de var skrevet mer for å dekke over enn for å understreke kvaliteter ved gruppens slagere. I det hele tatt var den ytre effekt voldsom, maken til bruk av lyd og lys har aldri vært hørt og sett i Norge. Med full guffe på maskinene sang de to jentene som 100 Anita Hegerlander, mens gutta holdt seg mer diskret i bakgrunnen. Helhetsinntrykket var meget sympatisk. Så snille og pene som de fire er, samler de generasjonene i enstemmig glede. Det er første gang i underholdningsmusikkens historie at barn og mor og bestefar forstår hverandres smak. I dette faktum ligger mye av ABBAs suksess, men også en del av deres musikalske forflatning. De anstrenger seg for, og har talent for, å lage umiddelbart fengende slagere som ikke støter noen, og de fremfører dem med den internasjonale artists godt innlærte ferdigheter.
Publikum tok begivenheten med stoisk ro, men det var helt tydelig at showet falt i smak. Det skal imidlertid ikke stikkes under stolen at tempoet dalte mot slutten, slik tradisjonen er i idrettshaller. Den nyskapte mini-musikal om den lille amatør som ble stjerne, og ikke visste hvor slitsomt det var, gjorde ikke noe varig inntrykk. Det gjorde derimot ABBA som scenemennesker, og showet som en glitrende slager-cabaret.
[Translated excerpts from the end of the review:] Sex is a key ingredient in their show, and the Swedish girls in the silver dot turned the back to the audience a little more often than usual. [...] The audience took the show with stoic calm, but it was quite clear that the show fell in taste. However, it should not be beneath the chair that the pace ends at the end, as tradition is in sports halls. The innovated mini-musical about the little amateur who became star and did not know how tedious it was did not make any lasting impression. However, ABBA did as stage people, and the show as a sparkling butcher cabaret.
Øyvind Thorsen, Aftenposten (Norway), January 29, 1977
ABBA in Oslo – Kindness Symphony [based on Google translation]
Staggering cheers when ABBA appeared but no one whistled and stamped, that’s not what ABBA’s audience does. Then the applause became milder for each song. After an hour, half the concert, I saw several leave, and in the halls outside there was a queue outside the slot machine.
Nevertheless, the world’s most popular group appeared publicly for the first time in a long time. Premiere in a sports hall in Oslo, the tour now goes to other cities with large halls down Europe and ends February 14 in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Then on to Australia. A little joy came after a song that was fast and strong and could be mistaken for rock. It was in the air that the youngsters wanted to dance, but it did not happen. Also, when ABBA was pretended to leave the dais. We have to sit in place in good time before, like when Ingmar Bergman directs on the drama. So great expectations must be spotted. Kolsvart – and a threatening engine noise. And then, full light and drapery away; There stood the four in ABBA with nine musicians and three singers, all in white. Annifrid and Agneta had a topcoat in silver with wide sleeves. Were they dressed like angels? No, it was probably jiujitsu clothes.
They started with “Tiger”. Continued with old song numbers from the albums, “Waterloo” came quite early and got disturbed applause. Then the girls took off the silver caps and it helped a little. The big blush only emerged later when they came in white swimsuit. Björn and Benny fought, one could not and the other was too thick, they said. The girls sometimes stretched out one arm, and in turn they turned and showed their tails. At the Gentleman’s head sat Crown Prince Harald and his princess. It was surprisingly quiet on the stage: no great or graduated gestures. The three girls in the choir tore some assertions some time. ABBA is primarily aimed at girls around 15 years, all the time in the most special and adventurous years. At the breathtaking threshold between children and adults. They sing about a girl who dared to kiss her teacher, about the queen of the dance, teasing the guys, lighting them up and sticking.
Actually, it’s not music they sell without the dream of success, the big lift that at one time is going to provide a seaside villa or at least a twosome on the 8th floor with its own key. They sing about the girl who hopes to snuggle a rich man, so their advice sounds. If you do not get it, you can travel to Las Vegas and win the luck at the casino. The same kind of songs Git Gay and Anita Lindblom sing. The song “Money, money” has an effective and unexpected melody, and events have contrasts. I think that many of the hundreds of Swedish groups that are better than ABBA have a lot to learn from them in terms of dramatic effects. They revealed a dream: to put their music in a context. Then came a 25 minute cavalcade of melodies that told the story of an unknown singer from the country who became famous and had to do tours all over the world but became a puppetry.
This game was made with magnificent effects of smoke and flashing lights in different colors, but stupid and lifeless, as if they did not actually see the game about them stealing. It became extra mechanically, because ABBA’s sound is very tight. Although I heard several albums and now heard them in reality, I do not know how they sing. You hear a few poignant voices in the distance, inside a thick drunk. They make sense of being natural and showing themselves open, but just telling slogans. And about kindness. They send out songs about patience and hiding behind bodyguards called gorillas. They think their audience is in enough uncertain age to be corked. It is a human disorder so amazingly great and pretentious that you swallow it by pure genius. This was the most political music I've ever heard.
Ingemar Glanzelius, Dagens Nyheter, January 29, 1977 – Original text
It's rumored that the German radio station WDR has recorded (or wanted to record) the full concert for a later broadcast, but wasn't allowed to do so in the end. While the plan itself seems likely everything else about this remains speculation.
A recording labeled as Cologne 1977 circulates though it most likely is a fake and just seems to be the Hamburg recording, but in worse quality.
because of fears for terror by the IRA the audience had to pass strict safety checks
some fans entered the stage during Dancing Queen, waving blue-white and blue-golden ABBA flags
“It was especially scary to be playing in front of a British audience,” admitted Agnetha. “We were terribly nervous about playing that first night in Birmingham. After all, it’s classic ground in terms of pop music.”
Paul Cole, Birmingham Mail online – April 5, 2014
I'm amused that journalist Camilla Lundberg has written the liner notes for the album [Piano]. Forty years ago she wasn’t exactly a fan of Benny’s music. In her review of ABBA’s Birmingham concert in February 1977 she wrote about their music that, “It is anything but varied, as is well-known. Nor is it beautiful, nor innovative.” Admittedly, while more or less dismissing three quarters of the group, she noted that “Benny Andersson is the most interesting ABBA member. He is actually a real musician, he is the most spontaneous and most credible of them,” but for the most part the review was a discussion of ABBA as a product, pushing the angle of how everything they did was part of a “plan”, as was quite common back then. Lundberg is of course allowed to change her mind about Benny’s music, but it still surprises me how critical assessment of ABBA and their members has evolved and changed over the years, to the extent that some of their fiercest critics are now a part of Benny’s circle of friends.
Carl Magnus Palm, Benny Andersson’s Piano album - a review and some further thoughts – October 3, 2017
Rapport (SVT) – ABBA on tour in 1977, no live recordings in this report, but it features some interviews with the audience at the doors of the Odeon and an interview with ABBA directly after the concert at Birmingham, released on The Album Deluxe
Audience: 5,600 each (sold out); it is reported that there have been more than 3 million pre-orders
The concerts at the Albert Hall in England were unforgettable. The English were crazy about us. The Albert Hall was sold out a long way in advance and we could easily have stayed and packed it out for weeks. When the concerts began it was ecstatic. After the opening number, when both we and the audience had calmed down, it was great when the tempo got its second wind. Some magic moments ensued.
Agnetha in As I Am, p. 87
‘I remember a moment in the middle of the Albert Hall night when I thought, Good grief, Benny, this is you sitting here playing at the Albert Hall. For a little while I could not believe it was me there. It was very hard for me to sit steady on my stool.’ Anni-Frid added: ‘I managed to control my nerves. At the end of the show, when the audience went wild, it was a real pleasure to be on stage!’ Agnetha had a different impression: ‘I was terribly nervous during the first show. I felt really strange and couldn’t move, I couldn’t calm myself down.’ Björn concluded by saying: ‘Some people say that London audiences are difficult. Maybe they are at first, but after that: wow!’