1979Poster11979a1979cPoster North AmericaPoster Europe

The North American & European tour 1979

The tour

PreparationsThe Concerts

Originally ideas for a world tour 1979 included Western Europe, North America, Asia and also Eastern Europe. Because ABBA needed more time for the Voulez-Vous album these plans were condensed and Eastern Europe and most of Asia were dropped, only the Japan tour 1980 remained. In the spring of 1979 the intended venues still looked different though to the actual tour:

quoteMiddle of May Stig Anderson will go over to Los Angeles and New York to discuss the up-coming tour, the opening of the movie in the US and the release of the LP in the US and Canada. All efforts will be put together to really make this ABBA’s year in the US!! [...]
It is now decided that ABBA will open their American, Canadian and European tour in Vancouver, Canada on September 15th. They will play the following cities in the US and Canada: Vancouver - Seattle - Portland - San Francisco - Fresno - Los Angeles - Salt Lake City - Denver - Kansas City - Minneapolis - Milwaukee - Chicago - Cleveland - Washington DC - New York - Boston - Toronto - Montreal. The dates and places will be definitely confirmed during Stig’s visit to the US. ABBA will continue their tour in Europe at the following places:
October: 19 Gothenburg, 20 Stockholm, 27 Copenhagen, 23 Paris, 24 Rotterdam, 25 Dortmund, 27 Munich,
28 Zurich, 29 Vienna, 30 Stuttgart – November: 1 Bremen, 2 Frankfurt, 3 Brussels, 5 London, 6 London, 7 London,
11 Stafford, 12 Stafford, 13 Glasgow, 14 Dublin
Polar press release of May 9, 1979)

For their route through the USA their record sales were analysed and they finally sticked with their “heartlands”.

The stage design by Rune Söderqvist was built in London. Three big trucks transported the 40-50 tons of the stage design and the equipment. ABBA usually travelled by private jet, Agnetha travelled by limousine or with the band in the bus whenever the distance between two cities was close enough.

The 45 concerts of the 1979 tour had a total audience of around 300,000. However, some concerts in the USA weren’t sold out and though the audience reportedly was enthusiastic throughout they also received some bad reviews by US journalists. In the end they lost about $US 200,000 with the North American concerts and couldn’t push their record sales as much as they hoped for. (ABBA in America / Bright Lights, Dark Shadows)

According to Stig Anderson the top price for US tickets was $US 9.50 because “We draw a lot of families with kids”
(Billboard, September 29, 1979, p. 3).

quoteI hadn’t reached this level of maturity when we began the USA tour of 1979 [...]. It was momentous and successful, but for me it was awful. Björn and I had separated and I had torn myself away from the children. I just wanted to be home, home, home.
But I had no choice. Björn and I were agreed about doing this tour together, despite the divorce, so we had to form a new relationship with each other and work together in a new way. It was an unfamiliar situation for all four of us – an ordeal by fire. I had no one to talk to. So I mourned alone. The whole time I ached inside for the children and from home sickness.
Agnetha in As I Am, p. 85

SPNavUpPreparations

Rehearsals with musicians and backup singers started on May 13, 1979 at the Grünewaldsalen at Stockholm’s Konserthuset and two preparation concerts were done in May already. From July 30 on rehearsals continued at Europafilm in Bromma.

quoteIn preparation for the 1979 tour, a number of rough mixes of songs, from the original multitrack tapes, were prepared, with instrumental backing turned down and backing vocal performances more upfront. This was to highlight the vocal harmony arrangements, so that it would be easier for the backing vocalists to study and learn their parts. [...] Interestingly, ’Honey, Honey, ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’, ‘My Love, My Life’, ‘One Man, One Woman’, ‘The King Has Lost His Crown and ‘Lovers (Live A Little Longer)’ were considered for inclusion in the set list at this stage. [July 1979] As far as can be ascertained only three of these titles made it into the rehearsals.
The Complete Recording Sessions (2017), p. 336

Plans also were to include a completely new song

quoteAt one point, the song [Rubber Ball Man] also featured in the rehearsals for the upcoming tour under the new title ‘Under My Sun’, with what seems like another set of demo lyrics – about someone who’s a “true star under my sun” – and an informal recording was made of it during rehearsals at Europa Film Studios, although it’s unclear exactly when (‘Under My Sun’ has been bootlegged from this tape, but the recording does not exist in the Polar Music archives). On the rehearsal tape Björn suggests that the song should be booted off the set list, even before they start performing it: the show is already very long and he doesn’t feel that good about the song. Benny agrees but says that they might as well record it.
The Complete Recording Sessions (2017), p. 337

In May ABBA did two surprise concerts.

quoteWe tour so infrequently that we need to have a little warm up. Especially since we’re going to the United States where we’ve never been before and where we’re all a bit unsure of how the audience regards us: whether they are familiar with us or not. We really don’t know, so we need a little extra self-confidence as a stage act.
Benny in From ABBA to Mamma Mia!, p. 29
quoteWe were going out into the world and touring and wanted to test our material before a real audience. We had been working for some time in the studio and rehearsed well. But we had not played the songs live, or have met our audience. We wanted to know how the music would be received. It was both exciting and uncertain. But it must have gone well. We came in the off on our tours to the USA and Australia.
Benny according to Norrköpings Tidningar, April 25, 2016 (translated via Google)

On August 10 a recording of several rehearsed tracks was made including My Love, My Life, One Man, One Woman and The King Has Lost His Crown (The Complete Recording Sessions 2017, p. 338)

  • 1979, May 18 – Landskrona

    79Landskrona179landskrona

    Landskrona, Discoland/Strandpaviljongen

    Facts & trivia

    • First surprise concert
    • Audience: approx. 900 (capacity: 1,000)
    • ABBA sneaked in after a performance by Björn Skifs and his band, around midnight
    • quoteAnd in came... not ABBA, but Lasse Wellander and Mats Ronander. [...] They performed for about 45 minutes. [...] Next guest onstage was Björn Skifs who sang one song. [...] I do remember what he said afterwards: “I have a friend of mine with me and here he is...” and in came Benny Andersson who sat down at the piano and played Elton John’s ‘Song For Guy’.  [...]
      After [that] he thanked the audience for the applause and told us that he also had some friends with him who he would like to introduce and there they were:
      Frida, Björn & Agnetha!
      Anders Olsson, ABBA Intermezzo #89, p. 22-23
    • the news about the concert was rumored during the day, a record store had displayed a note announcing the concert, ABBA were not amused about that
    • quote“I was 23 years old and saw the concert with my brother and the band I played in then”, says Assam Bop. [...] “I was on the train from Växjö with my guitar when a man named Anders Hanser came to me wondering if I was playing in bands and if he was going to interview us. When we were separated at the station, he said that ‘you have to go to Strand tonight because something very special happens there’. Well, I thought, and did not feel right now. But the interview ended and the rumor of ABBA’s play had siphoned out to some people and then we got there.”
      Landskrona Direkt (Sweden), May 15, 2013
    • soundcheck in the afternoon at around 15.00
    • after-show party at the Hotel Öresund
    • later on Discoland published an advert with a show photo to thank ABBA for their appearance

    Set list

    After Benny’s solo performance ABBA played a set of 11 songs:

    • Benny: Song For Guy
    • Chiquitita
    • If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    • Does Your Mother Know
    • The King Has Lost His Crown
    • Voulez-Vous
    • As Good As New
    • Hole In Your Soul
    • Why Did It Have To Be Me
    • Money, Money, Money
    • Knowing Me, Knowing You
    • Dancing Queen

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.

    Links

  • 1979, May 19 – Norrköping

    79norrkoping79norrkoping2

    Norrköping, Paradiset

    Facts & trivia

    • Second surprise concert
    • Audience: about 600
    • Begin: 00:21
    quoteIt was very hush-hush, no advertising, no marketing whatsoever. Instead, the news spread by word of
    mouth. First Wellander & Ronander appeared on stage followed by Björn Skifs. After a while ABBA appeared. The place was packed.
    Taken from ABBA4ever Forum, no detailed source

    Media featuring this concert:

    • Nyheter du aldrig glömmer (News You Never Will Forget), 2008 – this DVD features a short documentary about the event
    • Raw Power by photographer Mats Bäcker (Norstedts Förlag, 2012) – this book has some pictures

    Set list

    Detailed information about the track list is not available. According to Norrköpings Tidningar ABBA played 10 ‘greatest hits’.

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.

    Links

  • 1979, August 10 - Stockholm

    ABBA show rehearsal (Polar studios)

    Source for all comments: Carl Magnus Palm, The Complete Recording Sessions (2017), p. 338-340

    Rehearsal set list

    quoteWhether the order in which the songs were performed represented a proposed set list is unclear; in all likelihood they were mainly trying to find the best way of performing the individual songs, leaving running order questions to a later date. Many of the songs sound pretty similar to how they would end up in the show
    • Does Your Mother Know (4:29)
    • quote13-second intro where Benny plays the “take it easy” section twice, in a style similar to the intro of the “Doris Day” version of ‘Thank You For The Music’, only in a faster tempo. He ends this intro with a piano roll along the lines of the start of ‘Dancing Queen’ [...]
      The guitar solo in the middle of the song, deleted from the original studio version, is present here, as indeed it would be when ABBA toured, with the original intro riff playing in the background (see 6 February). In this rehearsal version, this riff is also used to end the song: it is played twice, first in its normal tempo and then slower and slower, and before the very last note there is a short break followed by a “crash” by all the instruments on this last note.
    • Voulez-Vous
    • Knowing Me, Knowing You
    • SOS
    • quote‘SOS’ is interrupted after two minutes, for unknown reasons
    • Rock Me
    • As Good As New
    • The King Has Lost His Crown (3:49)
    • quotethe main point of interest in this live version is the ending, where the girls sing “disaster and disgrace”, holding a long note on the final syllable, followed by a replay of the melody line heard at circa 00:26–00:29 in the album version.
    • My Love, My Life (4:05)
    • quoteBenny plays a synthesizer intro with a slight baroque touch, tying together the melody lines corresponding to “but I know I don’t possess you, so go away god bless you” and “was it a dream, a lie”.
    • Money, Money, Money
    • Thank You For The Music
    • One Man, One Woman (5:40)
    • quoteThis rehearsal recording was a fine interpretation, faithful to the album version; the most interesting difference is the ending: the line “one man, one woman” sung slowly and with thundering drums as backing.
    • Take A Chance On Me (3:51)
    • quoteending with “gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me” and then segueing into ‘If It Wasn’t For The Nights’
    • If It Wasn’t For The Nights (4:09)
    • Fernando (3:53)
    • quoteFrida starts by singing “Can you hear the drums, Wellander” and then “in the firelight, Ronander”
    • Been And Gone And Done It (5:25)
    • quoteby far the most interesting part of this rehearsal tape: [...] the song that would ultimately morph into ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’. The arrangement here is radically different: more like a galloping rock song than a club-oriented disco number. The performance starts with just drums for a few bars, before the rest of the band joins in and plays the chord progression heard underneath the synthesizer riff intro on the familiar record version, except without that melody. This is played twice, with the guitars playing in a chopping style rather than harmonious chords. Then the synthesizer riff is played twice on top of this. After that comes the riff that would eventually end ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ in live versions (it starts at 05:00 on the version included on the double album Live At Wembley Arena), played twice.
      Then the singing starts, revealing that ‘Been And Gone And Done It’ was a shared lead vocal for both
      girls. [...] The lyrics were a somewhat contrived story of a woman who, despite being in love, feels no need to tie the knot since she considers marriage outdated, yet finds herself being the bride at a wedding, not quite understanding how she ended up in that situation. The lyrics are not finished in this rendition, as the two verses before and after the first chorus are identical (the verses are available for reading as a facsimile in Frida’s handwriting, included in the 2014 book ABBA – The Backstage Stories, aka ABBA – The Treasures).
      The first two verses are followed by the bridge leading into the first chorus, which is followed by a repeat of the chopping chords and the synthesizer riff. The two verses are then sung again, followed by the bridge and then two choruses. After that, there is an instrumental break: eight bars of the four final notes of the riff that would end the song in concert (heard at 05:03–05:06 in the version of ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ on the Live At Wembley Arena album). Then the verses are sung again, after which the structure pretty much follows the live rendition of ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’: two choruses, the synthesizer riff played twice, and then the end riff played twice.
    • Dancing Queen
    • Summer Night City
    • Why Did It Have To Be Me
    • quoteThe version of ‘Why Did It Have To Be Me’ features Frida and Agnetha singing the lines from “I was so lonesome” until “always thought you knew the reason why” in twopart harmony.
    • I Have A Dream
    • The Name Of The Game
    • Eagle
    • Chiquitita

    Staff

    Benny Andersson, Anders Eljas (keyboards)
    Lasse Wellander, Mats Ronander, Björn Ulvaeus (guitar)
    Rutger Gunnarsson (bass)
    Ola Brunkert (drums)
    Åke Sundqvist (percussion)
    Birgitta Wollgård, Liza Öhman, Tomas Ledin (backing vocals).

    Recordings

    • A full but unpublished recording does exist.
  • Set list

    Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. One Man, One Woman (only performed at the first concert in Edmonton)
    8. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    9. Chiquitita
    10. Money, Money, Money
    11. I Have A Dream (with local children choir)
    12. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    13. SOS
    14. Fernando
    15. The Name Of The Game
    16. Eagle
    17. Thank You For The Music (on some concerts sung with a local children choir)
    18. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    19. Intermezzo No. 1
    20. I’m Still Alive
    21. Summer Night City
    22. Take A Chance On Me (apparently supported by a tape, presumably for the male background vocals only)
    23. Does Your Mother Know
    24. Hole In Your Soul
      (right before the song starts the background mountains were pulled away to the sides to display the lighted letters “ABBA”)
    25. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    quote”We thought it would be a nice way to end the show during the encores, so that the audience would know that the show was really was over after that,” explains Benny. In rehearsals it seems this was indeed the very last encore to be performed.
    The Complete Recording Sessions (2017), p. 346
    1. Encore – Dancing Queen
    2. Encore – Waterloo (introduced after some concerts)
    quoteThe only immediate change in the set list after this first show [in Edmonton] was the removal of the poignant ballad One Man, One Woman. According to a reviewer at the time, this performance of ‘what ought to have been a power-house of a song’ simply didn’t come off as it should in the show. A few concerts later, Thank You For The Music was also removed from the show, due to a muted response from audiences, while Waterloo was added as a final encore.
    From ABBA to Mamma Mia!, p. 50
    quoteI had my own number called I’m Still Alive. It was never recorded, but we always played it in concert. It was a ballad, so the audience would be nice and quiet. I sat at the piano and played and sang. Suddenly, when the lights went down, little by little small lights came on in the dark. People had brought lighters with them and soon there would be a sea of shimmering flames which flickered everywhere. We all became spellbound, the magic of music was palpable. It was one of my greatest moments.
    Agnetha in As I Am, p. 87
    Today this [Voulez-Vous] sounds too fast for me, but it must have been the adrenalin in us.
    Benny in ABBA Intermezzo Magazine #74, October 2014, p. 11
  • Staff

    Staff

    The band

    • Benny Andersson
      • Yamaha CP-80 (the piano hight was adjustable through a hydraulic base)
      • Yamaha GX-1
    • Björn Ulvaeus
      • accoustic guitar (probably Yamaha)
      • Ibanez AR500
        The guitar is a special construction and was produced in 1979 by Fuji Gen Gakki in Matsumoto, Japan and featured the word ‘ABBA’  on the cover of the trust rod.
    • Anders Eljas (organ, piano)
      • Yamaha CP-70
      • Hohner Clavinet D6
      • SCI Prophet-5
      • Yamaha GX-1
    • Lasse Wellander (guitar)
      • guitar Fender Stratocaster 1962' with Schekter pick-up
      • amplifier Music Man
      • pedal board?
    • Mats Ronander (guitar, harmonica)
      vocals on Not Bad At All)
      • guiitar Fender Stratocaster
      • amplifier Music Man
      • pedal board?
    • Rutger Gunnarsson (bass)
      • Hagstrom Super Swede Bass (developed by him with the Hagstrom company)
    • Ola Brunkert & Åke Sundqvist (drums & percusssion)
      • own setup with Sonor percussion like marimba, kettledrum....
    • Tomas Ledin (backup vocals, vocals and piano on Not Bad At All)
    • Birgitta Wollgård (backup vocals)
    • Liza Öhman (backup vocals)
    • Claes af Geijerstam (sound engineer)

    Management & technicians

    • Stikkan Anderson (ABBA’s manager)
    • Görel Johnsen (Stikkan’s assistant)
    • Thomas Johansson (tour manager)
    • Gerry Stickells (tour consultant, USA)
    • John Spalding (financial affairs)
    • Marie Anderson (press contact)
    • Bosse Norling (ABBA’s personal tour manager)
    • Hans Blomgren (band’s tour manager)
    • Henry Smith (tour manager, USA)
    • Jimmy Barnett (stage manager)
    • Kenny Murray (guitars & drums manager)
    • Stuart Mackillop (pianos & organs manager)
    • Max Norman, Lars Brogård, David Gaultry,
      Ted Leamy (sound)
    • Pattrick Woodroffe (head of light)
    • Cambell Hair, David Haugton, Siom Tutcher,
      Gerry Mott (light)
    • Mike Weisman, Robin Murray, Bob Birch,
      Hans Fredriksson (stage workers)
    • Ingmarie Nilsson (now Halling) (wardrobe & makeup)
    • Elisabet Hofstedt (hair)
    • Rune Söderqvist (stage design)
    • Robert Hilts, Mike Liss, Gilbert Lopez (truck drivers)
    • two bus drivers
    • trucks apparently supplied by the Edwin Shirley Trucking company.
    quoteThey were used to being treated like shit by most of the other big acts, but with ABBA it was different. The road crew should have their food, and we mustn’t start the party before they had arrived, and so on, because those guys were working really hard. They thought that this was the best tour they had ever been on.
    Anders Eljas in From ABBA to Mamma Mia!, p. 53

     

    More information about people on the official site (Story –>The people).
  • Links

    Books

    Links

 

SPNavUpThe concerts

Click on each entry to open/close a window with details.

  • 1979, September 13 – Edmonton (Canada)

    79Edmonton2Edmonton

    Edmonton, Northlands Coliseum

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 15,000 (sold out within three hours)
    • According to WEA Records representive Mike Pleau, the number of international rock writers now expected at the concert will be about 125. At least 20 will be from Sweden.
      Graham Hicks, Edmonton Entertainment Journal – September 11, 1979
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida and Benny left Sweden on September 7 already as they wanted to be at the World Sailing Championships. Stig made a stop in New York. Agnetha, Björn and all others left on September 9 to arrive on the following day. Frida and Benny joined the flight inbetween. In Edmonton ABBA drove to the Four Seasons Hotel soon after their arrival on September 10 at 18.20 with Air Canada flight 216.
    • September 12: dress rehearsal of the full show
    • September 13: rehearsal after breakfast, at 18.00 ABBA left the hotel for the concert arena
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Edmonton Oilers
    • Children choir for I Have A Dream: Knights of Columbus Columbian Choir (11 children)
    • Not Bad At All reportedly got a good reception.
    • The press conference at the hotel after the show was visited by 160 photographers and journalists. ABBA received gold and platinum records for their Canadian sales. After the press conference ABBA and their team had a party.

     Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. One Man, One Woman
    8. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    9. Chiquitita
    10. Money, Money, Money
    11. I Have A Dream (sung with local children’s choir)
    12. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    13. SOS
    14. Fernando
    15. The Name Of The Game
    16. Eagle
    17. Thank You For The Music (sung with local children’s choir)
    18. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    19. Intermezzo no. 1
    20. I’m Still Alive
    21. Summer Night City
    22. Take A Chance On Me
    23. Does Your Mother Know
    24. Hole In Your Soul
    25. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    26. Encore – Dancing Queen

    This concert featured the only live performance of One Man, One Woman which afterwards was dropped for the rest of the tour. Saying is that this was done because the reception by the audience wasn’t as good as expected. However, there isn’t any known original ABBA statement regarding the reasons.

    quoteAt the premiere, the introduction was weak. The pace was poor and the lighting definitely not successful. [...] the icy blue that dampened at the premiere.
    Lars Wallrup, excerpt from the Vancouver review, Svenska Dagbladet (Google translation)

    Press articles

    press ABBA to tour Canada

    In five years of recording together, four freshly-scrubbed young Swedes who go under the name ABBA have spent less than two months as a touring act. But it’s not for want of a market.
    On the contrary, in that same five years ABBA has sold well over 50 million copies of their six albums
    worldwide, making their, name as common a household word as Sweden’s other major export, the Volvo automobile.
    It’s rare that a pop band can build such an enormous following on the strength of album sales alone: Concerts are an essential part of the record game.
    But ABBA, whose story really began following a victory in a large European song contest, is far from a conventional modern group. Their low profile is a case in point.
    Benny Andersson, one-fourth of the harmonious unit, says ABBA has played “not more than 24 gigs” since 1974.
    “We spent two weeks in Australia and another three weeks in Europe, which was in ‘77,” he said in a telephone interview from his home in Stockholm.

    Change of heart
    Now, after years of declining invitations to tour on this side of the Atlantic, Andersson said the group has had to reassess its thinking. While ABBA has never had trouble selling records here, “it looks like we have to be present on the North American continent to really get through.”
    “The media structure is not what it is in Europe or Australia or in Japan, where television has a tremendous impact. In specials or other such programs you reach a lot of people in a short time... but we’ve noticed that as far as the U.S. or Canada, it hasn’t been that way.”
    Was the fact that their North American fans might have felt cheated by not getting the opportunity to see ABBA live a consideration?
    “Well, I have the feeling that they might be unsure if we’re alive or not,” Andersson says. “They don’t believe that this is a real act until they know we’re on the road.”
    ABBA – the label is an acronym for Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha
    Faltskog – has a unique musical sound, readily recognizable and rich in melodic harmonies. Andersson admits that the special sound is ABBA to tour Canada carefully craftjed in the studio. And that the stage show is not a totally accurate translation of the discs.
    “It takes a little and it gives a little,” he says. “It’s almost impossible to reproduce, the sound exactly as it is on record, because we have too short a time to prepare it properly, like every touring band.
    “We spend a lot of time in the studio doing overdubs (mixing tracks on top of other tracks for a full sound).”
    But he hastens to add that formances had been poorly received.
    “Not at all. I think when it comes to the sound, for the audience to recognize what we're doing, there are no problems at all.”
    Andersson, who admits to being a bit curious about audiences in the U.S. and Canada “just because they're so far away,” explains why ABBA turned down previous offers for North American appearances.
    “From the beginning, we said we did not want to go there as a supporting act for somebody else. We wanted to be head-liners.
    “But there’s another reason, too. We have to spend a lot of time with the writing and producing of the records. We need a year to complete an album and we also need the time to take care of ourselves and our families. But we realize now that we should do this, we should be in places like America, Canada, Japan.”
    Benny and Bjorn have been writing songs together for more than 10 years. Prior to ABBA, Anni-Frid, now Benny’s wife, and Agnetha, Bjorn’s estranged wife, both had solo careers. Because the two couples had been close for years, it made sense to them to pool their talents.
    The big break came in 1974 when they took top honors in the 19th. annual Eurovision Song Festival contest. The song they performed, Waterloo, witnessed by an estimated television audience of 500 million in 32 countries, was recorded soon after and became an instant hit.
    ABBA’s output has not faltered since.

    Some old, some new
    Ticket holders for the North American tour can expect some material from the new album, Voulez-Vous, four or five songs as yet unrecorded, and certainly the string of hits that made the group what it is today – such tunes as Fernando, Dancing Queen, Waterloo and S.O.S.
    The oldies are important for this tour, Andersson agrees: “The fans probably wouldn’t feel their first live-ABBA experience was complete without them.
    Their following and their music are important to ABBA: Less so their many business ventures which the press seems to delight in discussing.
    Their company, Polar Music, is involved in a number of side interests unrelated to the record business, including farm equipment, boats, office.buildtngs and an art gallery.

    Killer taxes
    “When a thing like ABBA happens it generates a lot of money,” Andersson says simply, “and we're living in a country with a very heavy tax board.” Thus, the band draws a small salary from the millions that pour in from record sales, and the rest is invested.
    ”We have been for the last two or three years now the most profitable company (in Sweden) compared to the turnover. But the turnover that Volvo has, for example, is much larger, than ours. We're a small company we’re generating a lot of money but we’re not spending too much.”
    “It’s a question that a lot of people ask,” Andersson says, a hint of annoyance entering his voice. “I have the feeling that people might easily get the impression that we’re a business company, which we’re not. We’re four persons that make music.”
    Still, the four are no hacks when it comes to the business end. Inside the Voulez-Vous album is a splashy flyer proclaiming that “ABBA is coming!” and offering a host of “fabulous new ABBA products” everything from battery-operated light-up disco visors to ABBA, jewelry and wrist-watches.
    Nanaimo Daily News, September 14, 1979
    press ABBA concert a triumph

    The Swedish rock group ABBA opened its first North American tour Thursday night with a concert that left no doubt that it belongs on stage and not in the studio where it has been isolated for two years.
    A sell-out crowd of more than 16,000 was treated to first-class entertainment featuring the wide-ranging voices of Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog.
    The four-member group – the two male performers are Lyngstad’s husband, Benny Andersson, and Faltskog’s estranged husband, Bjorn Ulvaeus – haven’t toured in more than two years, yet ABBA is the largest selling group in musical history. In Canada alone, the group has sold more 1.2 million albums.
    But the closely-knit foursome had shunned the spotlight of the concert circuit. It had performed in concert only about two dozen times in Europe and Australia in 1977. Since then, it has been content to spend time in the recording studio, turning out hit after hit.
    But Thursday night, it dispelled any doubts about its ability to perform in front of and please North American audiences. Whatever nervousness the foursome felt evaporated early.
    From the opening number that had Lyngstad and Faltskog urging the crowd to “Take it now or leave It”, the foursome was in total control.
    In less than four songs, ABBA demonstrated that It is a performing band with a talent and delivery as smooth, classy, sensuous and explosive as any group.
    Ottawa Journal, September 14, 1979
    press Abba concert a big hit

    The largest selling rock group in the world, Abba, ended more than two years of isolation Thursday with a performance that was a joy for the ore than 16,000 persons in attendance and an “incredible relief” to the members of the group.
    ABBA – Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus – had not performed in a live concert since early in 1977 but had perfected their studio recordings to the point where they had become the most popular group in history.
    “To us the U.S. is mainly a challenge,” said Andersson when asked after the concert why Abba decided to end its studio isolation. “The whole tour to us is a great challenge.”
    Ulvaeus said: “Tonight the audience was great and everything went smoothly. But it was a very strange feeling when we haven’t toured in 2 1/2 years. You don’t have the self-confidence that most artists have.”
    The Montreal Gazette, September 15, 1979
    quoteThe voices of the band, Agnetha’s high sauciness combined with round, rich lower tones of Anni-Frid,
    were excellent… Technically perfect, melodically correct and always in perfect pitch… The soft lower voice of Anni-Frid and the high, edgy vocals of Agnetha were stunning.
    Edmonton Journal

    Recordings

    • A fan recording is said to exist and be available as bootleg (vinyl). If this is the truth, it seems very strange that nobody meanwhile made it freely available on the net somehow because most fans want to hear One Man One Woman live. Lots of other rarities have surfaced over the past years through Youtube for example. Anyway, the claimed track list:
      • Voulez Vous
      • Rock Me
      • One Man One Woman
      • Chiquitita
      • I Have A Dream
      • Gimme Gimme Gimme
      • The Name Of The Game
      • Eagle
      • I’m Still Alive
      • Intermezzo No. 1
      • Summer Night City
      • Take A Chance On Me
      • Does Your Mother Know
      • Hole In Your Soul
      • The Way Old Friends Do
      • Dancing Queen
      • Waterloo
         

    Books

    Links

  • 1979, September 15 – Vancouver (Canada)

    79Vancouver2

    Vancouver, Pacific Coliseum

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 13,500 (sold out)
    • Ticket prices $8.50-9.50
    • ABBA arrived on September 14 and stayed at the Westin Bayshore Hotel
    • ABBA spent the time before the concert with jogging, swimming or boating and leave around 17.00 for the arena
    • On September 16 Björn & Benny do radio and TV interviews, the rest enjoys the pool.
    • STV1 has joined for the TV special ABBA In Concert
    • In the afternoon the band left for Seattle, ABBA followed them on Monday (Agnetha traveled by car)
    • Choir on I Have A Dream: Vancouver Children`s Choir
    • Frida’s shirt on Why Did It Have To Be Me: Vancouver Whitecaps
    • Because of several technical problems ABBA aren't content with the concert though the audience reportedly was happy
    • Birthday party for Ola Brunkert after the concert

     Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Thank You For The Music
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I’m Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    • According to the book ABBA in America there were three encores. It also mentions there were some more minor changes compared to the Edmonton concert.

    Press articles

    press 17,000 in Vancouver: ABBA changes the show – but the sound is not good

    It is unbelievable that one can reach so far with music, was a comment that was heard in the hotel foyer when ABBA with musicians came back after the concert in Vancouver.
    But it was a feasible comment because one sold out the Coliseum with 17,000 listeners just a short while before, giving ABBA a very welcome.
    Since some small but still important changes have been made since the premiere in Edmonton, the performance has won a lot.
    At the premiere, the introduction was weak. The pace was poor and the lighting definitely not successful. Now they have changed this. The pace of the first part of the concert has been increased by the fact that a song has been deleted and that the music is supported with lighter and more open colors than the icy blue that dampened at the premiere.

    Several adjustments
    Björn Ulvaeus told us that it has been difficult to establish a definitive order of play. During the rehearsals there were six song schemes and one must therefore imagine that the group continues to adjust in the program.

    Difficult to sound
    However, something that can be more difficult to overcome is the sound that has not been good so far. The audio system is, according to Claes af Geijerstam, who is responsible for the mixing during the tour, dimensioned for smaller halls than those that ABBA has so far played in. Especially in Vancouver he really had to press the speakers. This was certainly noticed and especially Agnetha Fältskog and Frida Lyngstad suffered from the power output. Their voices did not sound clean.
    Agnetha told her that the performance is strenuous for her and that it can be difficult to keep voice and concentration during the two hours the group plays. She was not happy with the gig in Vancouver despite the audience response.

    Working on stage
    “You can't imagine how hard it can be to stand on the stage,” she said. Well, of course I can, especially for Agnetha and Frida, whor carry ABBA’s music. If you have equipped yourself with a facility that requires full hits and exceptionally good acoustic conditions to sound good, it is not so upset.

    For ABBA’s intention with the tour, not only is to present their music to faithful fans but to win new ones especially in the US. And then the otherwise distinct ABBA sound must be intact.
    Lars Wallrup, Svenska Dagbladet (Google translation)
    ABBA – Live in Vancouver (fan report)

    The date was Sep. 15, 1979 and at 8:20 pm the lights went down at the Pacific Coliseum to reveal the first (and last) appearance of ABBA in Vancouver, Canada. It was electrifying.

    Highlights for me were Björn referring to his ex-wife being As Good As New (I was perhaps too young at 13 to fully realise how tacky this might have seemed). I remember Frida kneeling at the front of the stage to sing I Have A Dream, and I remember being envious of the children (incidentally, they were from the Vancouver Children's Choir) who came on to sing with them. I remember the atmosphere and the flickering lights from the audience when Agnetha sang I’m Still Alive, and I recall with great glee the roar that came up when Frida emerged wearing her Vancouver Whitecaps tee-shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me. I was already head over heels in love with her and after her great performance with Björn I was completely devoted to her!

    One of my favourite parts of the concert was when Frida was singing Fernando at the front of the stage – I broke free from my mother in the upper seats (I was not on the floor where I should have been) and convinced a security guard that I needed to take photographs with my Instamatic (they didn’t turn out). I ran to the front of the crowd and took photos and even managed to convince myself that when Frida smiled down at me she was actually looking straight at me. Anyway, I received many photos (some enlarged and some regular) from the Vancouver gig months later when I was introduced to a professional photographer who was present at the
    show. They are wonderful photographic memories, and they are in a special photo album together with private shots of the four when they stayed at the Westin Bayshore hotel near Stanley Park. I was unfortunately not there at the hotel, as my parents didn't seem keen on letting me roam around the city looking for hotels that the famous four might have been staying at, but some friends later gave me copies from their private collection.

    I still remember the electricity in the air when Dancing Queen was finally sung. Even my mother was boogying. I think this was the first time I had ever been in the presence of marijuana too, as I remember asking my mum what the strange smell was. I do recall being disappointed that Waterloo was not sung during the encore; I assumed (incorrectly, as it happens: Waterloo was added to the North American tour later) there was not enough energy coming from the crowd to bring them back for one more encore that night, but all in all I was ecstatic to be there and be a part of it. Hole in Your Soul was fully charged and we were all on our feet. The flashing A-B-B-A letters behind the fabb four were giant sized and it seemed to me that the 17,000 people attending this show (the largest of the North American tour I might add) were all devoted ABBA fans. I was glowing with pride seeing how many people were affected by ABBA’s music that night.

    The colourful costumes the girls wore made them look like Nordic angels up there and so damned sexy too. I remember being a little bored during the backing band’s rendition of Not Bad At All, because I just wanted to see Agnetha & Frida singing, nobody else. I was thrilled when they sang "Eagle", and I remember people clapping along to Chiquitita. For some reason, If It Wasn’t For The Nights seemed not as brilliant as it could have been, but for me any sound defects were overpowered by the visual feast that was ABBA. Agnetha looked radiant as her blonde hair shimmered in the lights. The dramatic and gorgeous Frida made the stage her “own personal territory”, as The Province newspaper exclaimed the next day. I felt like a child in a sweetie shop as all my favourite songs were performed one after another. I tried so hard to make the night last forever, and for days after the show I clung desperately to vivid memories from each song.

    It was a glorious performance, and my fate as a fan was sealed from that moment on. This was the first rock concert I had attended, and this was after three years of loving ABBA, so you can imagine how giddy I was. I very nearly was prevented from going, because I had been cheeky that morning, and my mother said I was not allowed to attend the concert with her. Luckily for me, she changed her mind and I experienced, as one fan in ABBA in Concert proclaimed, “the most orgasmic moment of my entire life.” Any other concert I saw after that paled in comparison to the hallowed eve I saw the four Swedes performing. I bought a couple of tee-shirts, a programme, an official ‘79 tour photo and a baseball cap, and left the Coliseum walking on a cloud of ABBA
    love. I still float along on the buzz that I experienced during that night, and I have never been the same since. ABBA changed my life. So thank you, Frida, Agnetha, Björn & Benny, for the most magical night of my life.
    Graeme for ABBA4ever forum

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.

    Links

  • 1979, September 17 – Seattle (USA)

    79Seattle2

    Seattle, Seattle Arena

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 5,000 (not sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida's shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Seattle Seahawks (#10, Jim Zorn)

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.
  • 1979, September 18 – Portland, OR (USA)

    79Portland79Portland2

    Portland (OR), Paramount Theatre
    (today known as The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall)

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: about 3,000 (sold out)
    • ABBA arrived in the early afternoon (Agnetha travelled by car again)
    • Frida’s shirt on Why Did It Have To Be Me: Portland Trail Blazers (basketball)
    • Parts of the stage decoration didn’t fit into the hall
    • The venue originally was listed as Portland Opera House, but was changed after the tour programmes had been printed.

    Press articles

    press ABBA finds profit in exporting music

    Abba, the wholesome looking melodic singing quartet, is probably Sweden’s biggest export since the Volvo.
    The group, which sold more than 50 million records between 1974 and 1978, reportedly makes the largest profit of any corporation in Sweden.
    They have their own recording studio in Stockholm, their own record company, Polar, and they license their music to various labels around the world.
    Abba member Benny Andersson is at a loss to explain their popularity.
    “I don’t know what it is,” Andersson said in a telephone interview from Stockholm.
    “There are a lot of ingredients – the songs, the melodies, also the sound of the girls. I don't think there is a simple answer. We try to write good tunes.”
    Abba is an amalgam of its members’ names Andersson, 32, his girlfriend, Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, 33, Bjorn Ulvaeus, 33, and his wife, Agnetha (Anna) Faltskog, 29. All live on an island outside of Stockholm.
    All had separate, and successful, musical careers in Sweden before they got together in 1970.
    “I had been working together with Bjorn writing music and when we moved in with the girls, it was natural for us to record together,” Andersson said. “We were friends and spent a lot of time together.”
    In 1974, they won the Eurovision Song Contest, a live televised show seen by 500 million viewers in 32 countries and heard on radio by another million, with their hit “Waterloo.”
    Their records were selling by the millions in Europe and in summer 1974 they hit the U.S. market with a big hit, “Fernando,” although it was not until 1977 that they had their first No. 1 single in the United States with “Dancing Queen.”
    Working and living together has often taken its toll on groups, but Andersson is not worried about the relationships in Abba.
    ”I don’t think it’s hard working together. We’ve been separated while working and we did not really like that.
    “We don't really worry about breaking up. If somebody wants to do something on their own, they are free to do that. We won’t work together forever, I guess.”
    The group has a highly polished, technically superior pop sound with a catchy blend of beat and melody, although some critics have labeled the songs simplistic and commercial.
    Andersson, dismissing those critics, said the group is merely trying to produce popular music.
    “We’re not trying to achieve anything but our own feelings about music. We try to write music that we enjoy.”
    All of the group’s songs, written mostly by Bjorn, are in English, which Andersson said gives their music wider appeal.
    “Swedish sounds very strange to everybody. The type of music that we do works better with English lyrics.”
    Concerned with putting out a technically superior product, the group spends a lot of time in the studio, Andersson said. This, however, cuts down on not only the time they can spend touring, but also, Andersson noted, “It’s almost impossible to get the same quality on tour.”
    They did not make a major world tour until 1977 and Andersson said the group plans its first tour of the United States in September. “We’re curious and very excited about it. Every major act tours in America.”
    Roberta G. Wax, The Capital Journal, September 27, 1979

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.

     

    Thanks to David for some information and ticket picture.
  • 1979, September 19 – San Francisco (USA)

    79Concord2

    San Francisco, Concord Pavillion

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 8,100 (sold out) including Ron Wood, Donna Summer and Britt Ekland
    • ABBA left Portland by plane in the morning
    • Begin: 21.00. The concert was shifted by one hour to allow enough time for crew and equipment to arrive
    • ABBA show delayed an hour The Swedish rock group ABBA's concert at Concord Pavilion tomorrow will begin at 9 p.m.. instead of 8 p ni and the parking lot will 0en at 7. Problems in getting the group's sets and equipment here from Portland caused the hour's delay for the sold-out Concord appearance.
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: San Fancisco 49ers
    • After the concert Björn and Benny shortly met the press before ABBA left already, heading for Los Angeles

    Press articles

    press ABBA the triumph

    The possibility that four Swedish pop musicians named Agnetha Faltskog, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad would become the biggest record sellers in music history seemed as unlikely to them in 1973 as it still might to an outsider.
    In the last couple of days I’ve had two opportunities to observe Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid, internationally known as “ABBA,”, and one thing is for sure – theirs is not an accidental success. On film or
    “live,” it is clear that there is nothing flukey or uncalculated about ABBA.
    From their songs (all sung in English) to their orchestrations; from their costumes to their choreography whether they are appearing in Melbourne, Australia, or Concord, Calif.; from the first step onto the stage and into the spotlight ‘till the last note of “Dancing Queen” (their concert finale at Concord on Wednesday night); ABBA’s is a smooth, shiny bright, impeccably produced musical revue.
    “ABBA - The Movie,” which opens today at the Regency II, is essentially a 90-minute coverage of ABBA’s Australian tour of a couple of years ago. Its release in the United Slates is scheduled to coincide with ABBA’s first tour of North America, which began on Sept. 13 in Edmonton and concludes on Oct. 7 in Toronto. ABBA will be performing in 18 venues (the Concord Pavilion is one of the smallest) with the film opening a day or so after the “live” performance in each area.
    Although ABBA had materialized as a group by 1972, when Bjorn and Benny issued “She's My Kind of Girl” (with Agnetha and Frida as backup singers), it wasn’t until the quartet won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with “Waterloo” that their ultimate success was assured.
    Since “Waterloo” they have had a string of worldwide multimillion-disc hits “I Do, I Do,” Rock Me,” “SOS,” “Mama Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money,” et al. ABBA has not had the success in the United States that one might have expected but their producer-manager-guru Stig Anderson (known both as the “fifth ABBA” and “Mr. Record Business” in Sweden) is probably correct when he says that ABBA “just hasn’t had the time” to direct its attentions to North America.
    Now it is doing so, and Anderson and ABBA are hopeful that the United States will catch ABBA-Fever as have nations from Japan to Kenya.
    “ABBA - The Movie,” which has a silly little plot line about a disc-jockey trying to get an interview, features superbly produced sequences of ABBA performing in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. In addition, there are shots of ABBA lounging in hotel rooms, getting in and out of planes and limousines, being chased by fans, and preparing to go on stage.
    For one fleeting moment we are shown the cottage in the woods on the group’s own Island in the Stockholm Archipelago where Bjorn and Benny write the ABBA material. One wishes the film dealt with the creation of the music as much as it does with the performances of ABBA.
    In the film, ABBA performs about 18 selections, the same number presented at the Concord Pavilion on Wednesday during their 100-mlnute, non-stop show. The film production, apart from the “plot,” is sensational; camera angles, lighting, cutting and audio are all first-rate.
    The filmed ABBA actually provides a more satisfying musical-entertalnment experience than the “live” ABBA although, of course, nothing can duplicate the excitement and thrill of being part of an enthusiastic audience who are seeing their idols for the first time.
    The staging of an ABBA show is as slick as the careful production of their records. At Concord there were three backup singers (one young man, two women) as well as a six-piece instrumental ensemble behind ABBA. Although Agnetha and Anni-Frid are strong vocalists, the unison backing by the trio of singers is essential to the group sound.
    Bjorn, the nervous blonde, plays some guitar, Benny, noticably more relaxed than his colleague and collaborator, works mostly from the keyboards which at Concord were mounted on a small hydraulic lift. Andersson and Ulvaeus write the sort of songs that seem familiar even the first time one hears them it isn’t that they are specifically derivative, it’s just that this pair of composers (often aided by Stig Anderson) know the public’s taste. “Summer Night City,” among others, is disco-ish; “I’m Still Alive” has a bit of the Beatles, a dash
    of the Carpenters; the instrumental “Intermezzo 1,” gorgeously orchestrated, combines rock, Bach, and
    boogie-woogie.
    “Money, Money, Money” is right out of “Cabaret,” and “Why Did It Have To Be Me?” has fragments of Chuck Berry. Frida pranced around in a 49ers T-shirt on that one. Anything for the local touch, but a Raiders shirt might have been better.
    ABBA looks as good as it sounds. Agnetha, the blonde young lady, moves sexily around the stage she’s got some bottom line. Frida, considerably slimmer now than in the twoyear-old film, is equally athletic but somewhat less demonstrative or at least she’s programmed that way.
    Both the concert and “ABBA - The Movie” make it easy to become an ABBA addict – they make a habit of perfection.
    Philip Elwood, The San Francisco Examiner, September 21, 1979
    press First U.S. tour: Abracadabra from ABBA

    Critics are supposed to be hard-boiled, but it was difficult not to feel apprehension here Wednesday night when ABBA made its California concert debut at the outdoor Concord Pavilion. I mean, who wanted to see four grown men and women cry onstage if things turned out badly?
    This was only the third step on the Swedish pop group’s first U.S. tour and the industry scuttlebutt on the band had prepared me for the worst. Would ABBA be able to duplicate its lavish studio sound live? Would the band have any personality on stage? Would enough people care about ABBA even partially to fill the 8,200-seat Pavilion?
    Let me backstep. I’m a fan of ABBA’s records. The foursome has a delightfully infectious sound – so infectious,
    in fact, that the group has sold enough records around the world for its U.S. label to proclaim ABBA as the “largest selling group in the history of recorded music.” Though I’d place my money on the Beatles in an
    audit-to-the-finish showdown with ABBA, the Swedish outfit has topped the charts in almost every country that deals in Western pop music. That international sales success has made the group a big target.
    The complaint is that ABBA’s cheery, effervescent style is too lightweight The group’s name ABBA even sounds like baby talk. Bubble gum is too much of a ‘60s term to apply to the the group's tunes, but cream puff is an apt description of such lively exercises as “Dancing Queen” and “Does Your Mother Know?”
    Even when ABBA’s lyrics speak of romantic disappointment the arrangements on the records are so bouncy and bright that they somehow make you feel good. This lightweight image, however, leads many to dismiss ABBA as too inconsequential. That may be one reason tbe group never has achieved the superstar status in this country that it enjoys elsewhere.
    But ABBA’s failure to tour here is another reason it doesn’t hit even the Top 20 consistently with its albums.
    The refusal of ABBA to tour here since its international rise in 1974 is what led to much of the industry scuttlebutt, which in turn prompted my own apprehension.

    Concert Sold Out
    Yet ABBA erased the doubts Wednesday one by one. First the band can sell tickets. The 8,200-seat Pavilion had been sold out for a month. Similarly, ABBA’s concert tonight at the 9,000-seat Anaheim Convention Center is sold out (Seats, however, reportedly are still available for ABBA’s Saturday appearance at the San Diego Sports Arena.)
    Second, ABBA duplicates its studio sound reasonably well onstage. With the help of a six-piece band and three backup singers, the group gave us most of the soaring harmonies, uplifting melodies and festive instrumental touches that make the records so inviting.
    The high-stepping “Take A Chance On Me” could have used more snap Wednesday, but the rockish “Does Your Mother Know?” moved with zest and the sentimental ballads, such as “Fernando,” were elegantly framed.
    Beyond box-office and sound technicalities, ABBA proved to be a charming live attraction. The group relatively inexperienced at touring anywhere can improve things considerably. The ingredients, however, are workable and appealing. Best of all, ABBA, for all its “disposable pop” reputation, has obvious pride in its work.
    The foursome could have designed a much safer show. By adding an opening act or two to the bill, ABBA could have simply come out for 60 minutes and run through its hits. Instead, the band was onstage for nearly two hours and set aside some of its best-known numbers so that it could introduce new material.

    Disneyland-Type Audience
    The colorful costuming and cabaretish design of its show suggested ABBA understands the nature of its audience. The Pavilion turnout was strictly family parents and young kids. Streaming into the grounds Wednesday, the audience looked like the lines you see in the Disneyland parking lots, waiting for a tram ride back to their cars.
    While the show’s upbeat, variety emphasis delighted the audience, ABBA could assemble a more discriminating package by changes in costuming and show structure. The attractive sarong-flavored body stockings fit the seductive stances onstage of lead singers Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, but the pixie attire of the men, especially singer-guitarist Bjorn Ulvaeus, only adds to the group’s cutesy, lightweight image. The band also needs to break up the opening song segment to allow the individual songs breathing space. As it is, the band hurls them out with the speed and slickness of a series of records falling on a jukebox turntable.
    The main problem, however, is to make the presentation warmer. Keyboardist Benny Andersson and the others seem enthusiastic but they rarely stray from the musical identities. Very little is said from the stage, and too few of the arrangements are soft enough to provide intimacy.
    It was only in the final third of the program that ABBA loosened up musically. Not only did the band members show more sparkle (and humor) but the musical arrangements allowed the singers to escape at times from the heavy instrumentation.
    ABBA should learn a lot about upgrading its show on the tour, lessons that should make its return a more steady affair. But even in this preview, the four principals show that there is no reason for sympathetic critics to be apprehensive. ABBA destroyed some myths.
    Robert Hilburn, The Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1979
    press ABBA maintains style in live performance

    Critics are supposed to be hard-boiled, but it was difficult not to feel apprehension here when ABBA made its California concert debut at the outdoor Concord Pavilion. I mean, who wanted to see four grown men and women cry on stage if things turned out badly?
    This was only the third step on the Swedish pop group’s first U.S. tour and the industry scuttlebutt had prepared me for the worst. Would ABBA be able to duplicate its lavish studio sound live? Would the band have any personality on stage? Would enough people care about ABBA even partially to fill the 8,200-seat Pavilion?
    (Sunday, ABBA’s tour hit Arizona. The group performed at the Arizona State University Activity Center.)
    Let me backstep. I'm a fan of ABBA’s records. The foursome has a delightfully infections sound so infectious, in fact, that the group has sold enough records around the world for its U.S. label to proclaim ABBA as the “largest selling group in the history of recorded music.”
    Though I'd place my money on the Beatles in an audit-to-the-finish showdown with ABBA, the Swedish outfit has topped the charts in almost every country that deals in Western pop music. That international sales success has made the group a big target.
    The complaint is that ABBA’s cheery, effervescent style is too lightweight. The group’s name, ABBA, even sounds like baby talk. Bubble gum is too much of a ‘60s term to apply to the group’s tunes, but cream puff is an apt description of such lively exercises as Dancing Queen and Does Your Mother Know?
    Even when ABBA’s lyrics speak of romantic disappointment, the arrangements on the records are so bouncy and bright that they somehow make you feel good. This lightweight image, however, leads many to dismiss ABBA as inconsequential. That may be one reason the group never has achieved the superstar status in this country that it enjoys elsewhere.
    ABBA’s failure to tnur here is another reason it doesn’t hit the Top 20 consistently with its albums.
    The refusal of ABBA to tour here since its international rise in 1974 is what led to much of the scuttlebutt, which in turn prompted my apprehension.
    Yet ABBA erased doubts Wednesday one by one. First, the band can sell tickets. The 8,200-seat Pavilion had been sold out for a month.
    Second, ABBA duplicates its studio sound reasonably well onstage. With the help of a six-piece hand and three backup singers, the group gave us most of the soaring harmonies, uplifting melodies and festive instrumental touches that make the records so inviting.
    The high-stepping Take a Chance on Me could have used more snap, but the rockish Does Your Mother Know? moved with zest, and the sentimental ballads, such as Fernando, were elegantly framed.
    Beyond box-office and sound technicalities, ABBA proved to be a charming live attraction. The group relatively inexperienced at touring can improve considerably. The ingredients, however, are workable and appealing. Best of all, ABBA, for all its “disposable pop” reputation, has obvious pride in its work.
    The foursome could have designed a safer show. By adding an opening act or two to the bill, ABBA could have simply come out for 60 minutes and run through its hits. Instead, the band was onstage for nearly two hours and set aside some of its best-known numbers so that it could introduce new material.
    The colorful costuming and cabaret design of its show suggested ABBA understands the nature of its audience. The Pavilion turnout was strictly family – parents and young kids.
    While the show’s upbeat, variety emphasis delighted the audience, ABBA could assemble a more discriminating package by changes in costuming and show structure. The attractive sarong-flavored body stockings fit the seductive stances onstage of lead singers Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, but the pixie attire of the men, especially singer-guitarist Bjorn Ulvaeus, only adds to the group’s cutesy, lightweight image. The band needs to break up the opening song segment to allow the individual songs breathing space. As it is, the band hurls them out with the speed and slickness of a series of records falling on a jukebox turntable.
    The main problem, however, is to make the presentation warmer. Keyboard player Benny Andersson and the others seem enthusiastic, but they rarely stray from the musical identities. Very little is said from the stage, and too few of the arrangements are soft enough to provide intimacy.
    It was only in the final third of the program that ABBA loosened up musically. Not only did the band members show more sparkle (and humor) but the musical arrangements allowed the singers to escape at times from the heavy instrumentation.
    ABBA should learn a lot about upgrading its show on the tour, lessons that should make its return a more steady affair. But even in this preview, the four principals show that there is no reason for sympathetic critics to be apprehensive, ABBA destroyed some myths.
    Robert Hilburn (Los Angeles Times),  The Arizona Republic, September 24, 1979

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.
  • 1979, September 21 – Los Angeles (USA)

    79Anaheim79Anaheim2

    Los Angeles, Anaheim Convention Center

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 9,000 (sold out)
    • ABBA arrived in the very early morning of September 20 and stayed at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Hollywood where their children and some friends joined them, it was ABBA's homebase for the next concerts until September 25
    • A press conference for Japanese journalists was held that day (more than 20 came over from Japan)
    • On September 21 ABBA visited Disneyland where ABBA also rented room for the time until their concert
    • Björn considered this concert to be one of the most important concerts of the tour because of all the record and media companies in Los Angeles
    • The concert is delayed by more than 30 minutes because of a next door basketball game
    • Donna Summer and Ron Wood (Rolling Stones) were in the audience too
    • Children choir for I Have A Dream and Thank You For The Music: California School Chorus
      (20 children from Orange elementary and junior high schools, selected by the local UNICEF chapter)

    Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn't For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream (with local children choir)
    11. Thank You For The Music
    12. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    13. SOS
    14. Fernando
    15. The Name Of The Game
    16. Eagle
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I'm Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    26. Encore – Waterloo

    Press articles

    press Making grade on rock circuit

    Ten-year-old Julia Dashe smiled and shrugged. “Well, it’s not often you sing with a rock group,” she said
    matter-of-factly.
    Julia, a fifth grader at the city schools’ Creative and Performing Arts integration magnet school, is part of a chorus of 25 children who will be performing with the Swedish pop magnet school chorus warms up Grade on for appearance with rock group ABBA. Rock Circuit group ABBA when it makes its debut at the Sports Arena Saturday night.
    As it journeys around the country, the four-member pop group has been picking up local children’s choruses for each concert to celebrate the International Year of the Child.
    The Performing Arts group was picked because local International Year of the Child coordinator Jan Slanczka had seen their original performance of the musical “Wee Pals” last spring and was impressed.
    The children didn't have much time to practice. School started barely two weeks ago and since then, every day at lunch time, the children have gobbled down their sandwiches and spent most of the period practicing two songs: “I Have a Dream” and “Thank You For The Music.”
    They learned the songs quickly, said music teacher Norm Boaz. “It’s not really tough music and the songs are really delightful We did work but some harmonies in case they want us to do that.”
    On Thursday, as Ms. Slanczka passed out the yellow International Year of the Child T-shirts the children will wear Saturday night, the chorus ran through its paces during the lunch hour.
    “Okay,” Boaz told his fifth through eighth graders. “I want harmony now. Hear the music and look like you’re part of the show. You have to be focused with the group. So don't look at your neighbor and giggle. You’ve got to be real professional.” With that, Boaz started the ABBA tape and, right on cue, the children chimed in with “So I say, thank you for the music.”
    Their eyes widened and they smiled as they sang, some tapping their feet to the music and putting their whole bodies into the song.
    Afterward some of the children said they had never heard of ABBA until they were asked to perform with the group.
    But even those like eighth-grader Chris Winnard, who said that as a singer he had “progressed to more complicated music,” still seemed delighted at this first opportunity to sing in a professional concert. “It’s great to sing with one of the best pop groups in the world, isn’t it?”
    Sixth-grader Audrey Pritchard agreed. “I think it’s gonna be neat. I’ve never even seen a rock concert and for my first one, I'm gonna be singing in it.”
    Lanie Jones, The Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1979

    Recordings

    Books

    Links

  • 1979, September 22 – San Diego (USA)

    79SanDiego79SanDiego2

    San Diego, San Diego Sports Arena

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 3,000 (not sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Agnetha travelled together with the band in the bus
    • ABBA returned to their hotel in Los Angeles around midnight

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.
  • 1979, September 23 – Tempe / Phoenix (USA)

    79Phoenix2

    Tempe (Phoenix), Arizona State University Activity Center

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 5,600 (not sold-out?)
    • Begin: 20.00

    Press articles

    press ABBA concert is cooling experience

    Sweden has given the world Volvos, lngmar Bergman films and now ABBA.
    If you have been on a desert island for the past five years, ABBA is the second largest selling pop record act in the world. The Swedish foursome of Agnetha Faltskog, Annifrid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaues ranked right behind the Beatles in total record sales.
    ABBA has scaled such heights with a blend of sweet harmony, a wall of sound second only to Phil Spector and a set of polished Pollyanna lyrics.
    ABBA has also accomplished this feat without touring the U.S. until this year.
    “We're not really a touring band,” said guitarist Ulvaeus in an interview. “We haven't toured anywhere in
    two-and-a-half years. The reason we didn’t tour the U.S. last time is we didn't think we were big enough.”
    Sunday’s performance for almost 5,600 fans was a combination of old and new ABBA tunes, performed with a cool detachment that seems to be part of the ABBA image.
    The stage was clean, almost spare looking with a very high tech feel to it. A series of large triangles looking like mountain peaks and set behind the six member backup band dominated the look. The lighting constantly bathed the production in cool, soft hues of red, white and blue.
    Talk was miminal, although Ulvaeus managed to break the ice somewhat when he introduced Agnetha as
    “... my former wife and I can assure you she’s as good as new.”
    ABBA has maintained its unisex look, although the white jumps suits have been put away for the most part in favor of white tights for the girls and an almost delivery man look for the chunky Benny. The lean Bjorn has kept his jump suit.
    The costumes, the lights, the set and most of all the music, keep ABBA from building up any real intensity. For all the emotion expressed, by audience or performers, the concert could just as well have been a record.
    ”We do like the creative side and the recording more than the performing,” said Ulvaeus. “The studio is really an instrument and we spent a lot of time there because we want to get it just right.”
    Hardy Price,  The Arizona Republic, September 24, 1979

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.
  • 1979, September 24 – Las Vegas (USA)

    79LasVegas2

    Las Vegas, Performing Arts Theater (Aladdin Hotel)

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 5,000 (sold-out)
    • ABBA and their children arrived in two private jets
    • Linda joined the children choir for the concert
    • ABBA travelled back to Los Angeles in the late evening where they spent the next day before they finally left

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.
    • A bootleg labeled as ‘Las Vegas’ is in circulation, but it’s the Wembley recording
  • 1979, September 26 – Omaha (USA)

    79Omaha79Omaha2

    Omaha, Civic Auditorium

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: more than 10,000 (sold-out)
    • Begin: 20.00

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.
  • 1979, September 27 – Minneapolis / St. Paul (USA)

    79StPaul279StPaul1

    Minneapolis/St. Paul, St Paul Civic

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 11,000 (capacity 17,500), it was the biggest location of the US part of the tour
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: #63 (team?)

    Press articles

    press ABBA to work on-camera while offstage in Minnesota

    ABBA will probably spend an extra day in town this week to film some location footage for a British television special about the group’s North American concert tour.
    ”We have never been to Minnesota,” says Bjorn Ulvaeus, spokesman, lyricist, guitarist and co-composer for ABBA, Sweden’s No. 1 corporation. “But wasn't that movie ‘The Emigrants’ done there? It looked very much like home. We might do some filming there. I hope we will be able to meet some Swedish people there.”
    ABBA will perform Thursday at the St. Paul Civic Center; the quartet has Friday off.
    The St. Paul concert, with a capacity audience of 17,500, is the biggest show on the 18-city tour. Altogether, ABBA is expected to play before about 100,000 persons. It is the first North American tour by the group, which claims to have sold more records than any other act. Most of the concerts are being held in 5,000- to 7,000-seat auditoriums.
    “We figured ABBA could draw well here because this is the biggest Scandinavian settlement in the country,” said Minneapolis promoter Dick Shapiro. “And ABBA is the biggest thing from Sweden.”
    However, the Civic Center concert is far from sold out. ABBA’s tour seems ill-timed. Not only is the economy so tight that such established attractions as Kiss and the Bee Gees are suffering at the box office, but ABBA’s new album has had little success in the United States. Thus, the group is touring without any momentum.
    Jon Bream, The Minneapolis Star, September 25, 1979
    press ABBA’s concert sound flawless, but lacks soul

    ABBA may be the most meticulous of all pop groups. The Swedish quartet has developed song-writing into a calculated craft. Moreover, ABBA painstakingly wraps elaborate pop orchestration around flawless vocal harmonies. Indeed, such perfection has paid off: ABBA has sold more records than any other performer In pop history.
    The group, which is Sweden’s No. 1 corporation, has conquered just about every major record market in the world except the United States. So, to promote its record sales in the States, ABBA has undertaken Its first North American concert tour.
    Yet, what sounds good coming out of the dashboard of your car or the JBL speakers in your living toom, doesn't necessarily sound good in a cavernous arena. That vas demonstrated Thursday night as ABBA made its local debut at the St. Paul Civic Center. It was an entertaining show that failed to satisfy until the very end.
    ABBA, backed by three singers and eight musicians, has made adjustments in Its buoyant pop sound and arrangements in order to project more effectively In a concert setting. Indeed, ABBA’s sound Thursday was bigger, tougher and more disco-oriented than its records. However, the four performers, for the most part, failed to add that extra dimension of personality that makes concerts an art form separate from recordings. In short, ABBA suffered from its own meticulousness.
    Onstage, the group seemed very self-conscious, lacking spontaneity and soul. Too often, the group came across like a fresh-from-the- factory Jukebox whose parts needed a little oiling. Agnetha, the blonde with the high
    voice, seemed especially stiff and uncomfortable. Frequently, one of her hands was cupped to her ear to hear If her harmonies were right-on. Unfortunately, her pursuit of perfect harmony seemed to be at the expense of emotion.
    By contrast, Anni-Frlda, the redhead with the husky voice, was more outgoing. She let her body react to the music, and at times, she even danced, though she seemed more athletic than graceful. As a whole, however, ABBA seemed to take itself too seriously.
    The two-hour performance finally seemed to turn around during the last half-hour after Agnetha sang a very emotional tolo ballad about regaining her strength after her divorce. (Her ex-husband, Bjorn. Is ABBA’s
    guitarist.) Then, ABBA, with the help of some taped voices, jumped Into the Infectious “Take a Chance on Me.” For the first time all evening, Agnetha and Anni-Frida, who had shared center stage most of the night but managed to ignore one another, showed some emo'ion toward each other. A spirit seemed to spread among the performers and it carried over to the crowd of 11,000.
    ABBA had finally generated some excitement The group then kicked out the jams with “Hole in Your Soul,” an Elton John-styled rocker. For an encore, the quartet offered a touching a cappella tune about friendship and a jubilant “Dancing Queen.” It was a triumphant and fun ending to a less than spectacular evening.
    Jon Bream, The Minneapolis Star, September 28, 1979

    Recordings

    • A fan tape may exist.
  • 1979, September 29 – Milwaukee (USA)

    79Milwaukee79Milwaukee2

    Milwaukee, Auditorium

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 6,100 (sold-out)
    • Ticket prices: $7.50-8.50
    • Begin: 20.00
    • ABBA arrived on September 29

    Fan recording

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream (with local children choir)
    11. Thank You For The Music (with local children choir)
    12. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    13. SOS
    14. Fernando
    15. The Name Of The Game
    16. Eagle
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I’m Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    26. Encore – Waterloo

    This recording features ABBA in top form and probably has the best sound quality of all fan tapes. It’s also interesting because of the choir version of Thank You For The Music.

    Links

  • 1979, September 30 – Chicago (USA)

    79Chicago79Chicago2

    Chicago, Auditorium Theater

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 3,900 (sold-out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Chicago Blackhawks

    Press articles

    press American audiences the new frontier for foreign musicians

    A year or so ago, I did an Interview with an Egypt-born, France-settled singer named Demis Roussos.
    A beefy, expansive chap given to big meals and other forms of conspicuous consumption (his cat, he mentioned, ate caviar for breakfast, from a solid silver bowl), caftans, and Henry VIII getups, the 30-year old Roussos had sold 30 million records in Europe, and had come to conquer America.
    There was, he figured, no reason at all why Americans wouldn’t fall under his spell; no reason at all why they wouldn’t buy his first United States album release, which he was touring to promote, and no reason at all why American women wouldn’t find him the superstar ”sex symbol” that some of their European sisters did. (A curious phenomenon, indeed, given Roussos’ avoirdupois, but, he assured me, a genuine one.)
    “Women always want to find out what is beneath my caftan,” he explained, along with how America was his “next big ambition. I have got to live in the United States for a time in order to be internationally recognized. An artist needs to conquer America if he is to be a world star. And it is only a matter of time before the Americans accept me.”
    Maybe so. And then again, perhaps not. Some things, Roussos has since found out, take longer than others to happen; and when it comes to performers who hope to parlay pop success in their own country into similar circumstances in the U.S., sometimes things never get off the ground. As it turned out, the interview with Roussos has yet to see print. I stashed away my notes (actually, my cassette tape of the proceedings), figuring to do the story once he became better known here. The tape has been in my desk drawer for more than a year now. Next to it is another tape containing an interview I did earlier this year with a singer named Gilberto Gil, an immensely popular performer in his native Brazil who was also seeking to make it here.
    Gil’s album, a pleasant but unmemorable affair with a sound reminiscent of Sergio Mendes, went nowhere. As for Roussos, his album, a potpourri of pale pop and rock, attracted scant attention, nobody showed much interest in getting into his caftans, and he more or less sank out of sight, like a caftan-clad stone. So it goes. What sizzles in one country isn't necessarily hot stuff at the box office in another.
    But Roussos was right about one thing. When it comes to pop and rock, the U.S. is by far the major market, the big leagues in terms of big bucks and prestige; and the potential audience is large, relatively affluent, and definitely worth wooing. Currently, two pop groups are preparing for just such an all-out courtship: Swedish group Abba and a Japanese duo called Pink Lady.
    Coed quartet Abba (the name is an acronym made up of the initials of the performers’ first names) is, of course, not really an unknown quantity in the U.S. they’ve had a number of hit singles and two gold albums (500,000 units shipped) here, and their 1978 release, “Abba the Album,” was certified as platinum (1 million units
    shipped). Still, that’s pretty small potatoes for a group that’s supposed to be, according to its advertising campaign, “the largest selling group in the history of recorded music (according to its management company, Abba has now sold 100 million records worldwide, beatine out such folks as the Beatles), a band that report- edly is the biggest moneymaking corporation in Sweden and has been known to request its royalties in oil, sports equipment, ana other goods that it thensells on home turf.
    Clearly, there is more to be done in the U.S., and while the band doesn’t really need U.S. adoration or dollars as some groups do... well, it can hardly hurt to make an attempt at raising the pop audience’s Abba-awareness level. Toward that end, Abba is undertaking its first U.S. tour this fall, a three-week-long, 18-show (including some dates in Canada) that will bring them to Chicago Sept. 30 for a show at the Auditorium.
    Whether the band’s tour will spawn American Abbamania or not, “Voulez-Vous”(Atlantic Records) already qualifies as a commercial success, having just moved into the No. 19 spot on the list of current best-selling albums. As with the five previous Abba efforts, the overall sound smoothly produced, if shallow, pasteurized pre fab pop, with an undeniably insistent, danceable beat is what sells the product. The lyrics, most of them about love and all written by Abba’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (who also produced the album), are often pretty sappy. (“Kisses of fire, burning, burning, I'm at the point of no returning,” from “Kisses of Fire,” is
    typical.).
    Abba may be “the largest selling group in the history of recorded music,” but according to Elektra Records, which just released their first album, “Pink Lady,” when it comes to the "largest selling female recording group in the world,” Pink Lady gets the nod. Here, Pink Lady may be a drink; in Japan, it’s also a pop singing duo consisting of Mitsuyo “Mie” Nemoto and Keiko “Kei” Matsuda, both 21. In the last two years, the pair chums since junior high school has walked off with all of Japan’s major pop music awards and sold more than 17 million records, not to mention the Nippon Hams, hot dogs, and fried noodles they hawk in Japanese television commercials.
    Now Pink Lady is giving America a shot, but whether Americans will have the same yen for them that their countryfolk do remains to be seen. For their maiden U.S. release, their managers put them in the hands of composer-producer Michael Lloyd, whose track record includes successful associations with Shaun Cassidy and Debby Boone; and the results are as calculatedly and commercially pop and disco-pop as possible. The results are also so superficial, childish, and plastic that it is difficult to imagine anyone swallowing it all with much relish except for those with an inordinate appetite for bubble gum and Pop-Rocks; that they made their U.S. television debut earlier this year on a Leif Garrett special comes as no surprise.
    The young women sing in high, chirpy voices devoid of any sort of feeling whatsoever which could, of course, have something to do with the fact that their English is almost nonexistent and they learned the songs phonetically.
    Obviously, it’s difficult to conquer a country when you don't speak the language, a fact that has been taken into account in the current Pink Lady game plan. Right now, in fact, the duo is back in Tokyo, enrolled in a crash course in English.
    As for the business of rallying the U.S. under the Pink Lady flag, “We may have them come back to the States in October to do some promotional stuff and per form,” according to an Elektra staffer, “or we may have them wait until around January of next year. It all depends on how well things go at Berlitz.”
    Lynn Van Matre, Chicago Tribune, September 2, 1979

    Recordings

    • Apparently a recording exists or existed, see fan review below.

    Links

  • 1979, October 2 – New York (USA)

    79NewYork279NewYork1

    New York, Radio City Music Hall

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 6,000 (sold-out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: New York Rangers
    • Bruce Springsteen was in the audience, so apparently were the Bay City Rollers
    • The Pope visited New York the same day

    Set list

    • According to a fan memory Waterloo wasn’t performed

    Press articles

    press ABBA dropping in with Swedish soul

    KAY CLASS, here’s a question. ABBA is:
    a). The name of a particular pickled herring,
    b). A title of reverence for bishops and patriarchs in Eastern churches.
    c). An acronym for the biggest selling music group in recording history.
    d). All of the above.
    e). None of the above.
    If you picked the fourth answer, go to the head of the class. And if you knew all of the above – and can prove it –  and also that the acronym equals the first letters in the names Anna Faltskog, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frida Lyngstad, I will personally send the first to answer a copy of ABBA’s greatest hits.
    Before the week is out everyone in the Apple will know who ABBA is. For the first time, ABBA is playing live on stage in America. Their 18-city tour started in Canada last week, and this beautiful pop quartet, performs at Radio City Music Hall Tuesday.
    Tickets sold out instantly, .which always happens whenever they play in public (which they rarely do). On their last European tour some 3.5 million people, requested tickets but only 12,000 were available. Five years ago ABBA was unknown. They submitted a song called “Waterloo” to a European music contest, won first prize, performed it before half a billion people on TV and abba-ra cadabra! They were off and running like Borzois.
    Their soaring melodies, slick productions and simple sentiments in tunes like “Dancing Queen,” “When I Kissed the Teacher,” “Take A Chance,” “Does Your Mother Know,” “Bang Bang Boomerang" and lately “Angel Eyes” and “Voulez Vous” have prompted the public to buy 40 million of their singles and 100 million of their LPs.
    They hail from the land that exported Greta Garbo, Ingrid and Ingemar Bergman, Bjorn Borg, Pia Lindstrom, Liv Ullmann, Volvo, akvavit, red herring and meatballs to a grateful world. They’re the most profitable corporation in Sweden, Volvo not excepted. They own recording companies, art galleries, chunks of real estate. They have huge fan clubs in every country they visit.
    Everywhere but North America, that is. Us Yanks just can’t get it through our heads that ABBA is The Most. Unkind American critics (including this one) call their music “Swedish schlock – the sort of yummy yummy, chewy chewy stuff that we hoped went out with 1969 and the 1910 Fruitgum Co.”
    Americans do not usually cotton to foreign acts (except the Brits) even if they speak good English like ABBA. And no foreign act has ever had a sustained success here. Oh, ABBA has done very well on these shores, with many Top 40 hits and several million-selling albums. But it’s nothing like the success they’ve had in, say, Australia, where they’ve sold 2 million records and there are only 13 million people. Or in South America, where they’re going bananas over ABBA’s new single “Chiquitita,” the tune the group recently donated to the UNICEF “Year of the Child” campaign and which has already generated $200,000 in royalties.
    “America is the last frontier for ABBA,” says Bjorn Ulvaeus over the phone from Phoenix, where the group gave a concert. He has a simple explanation for their so-so success so far here: “We haven’t toured America, and no band is big that hasn’t toured. We spend a lot of time at home writing and recording. It takes such a long time to make an album (“Voulez Vous” took 18 months) and we don't like to be away from our families.”
    Bjorn plays guitar, generally writes lyrics while pianist Benny takes care of the music. The girls take care of the singing. They were into Kingston Trio-type folk music until the Beatles happened. Bjorn and Benny were a duo until Anna and Anni were hired to sing backup on a record and the quartet was born. “We always sing in
    English,” Bjorn explains. “It’s the universal language for rock and pop music.”
    They're all in they: mid-30s, and in the latest shakeup of their marital lives Bjorn, who used to be married to Anni, is now married to Anna who used to be married to Benny who used to be married to....Oh, forget it!
    “We were very nervous about performing in America,” Bjorn says in his cool, perfect English. “We haven’t played anywhere in two and a half years. We wanted to prove that we can play live. We have 13 musicians (all Swedish), the same people from the records so we can reproduce all the studio overdubs onstage. The audiences have been great, warm, spontaneous, more so than in Europe. They’re certainly with it. They know all the words and sing along. It’s a family audience. We feel at home on stage now.”
    As Bjorn explained, ABBA has actually played in America many times. They were part of the superstar UNICEF concert, they’ve been on “Midnight Special,” Olivia Newton-John’s special and once on “Saturday Night Live.”
    Besides not touring, he thinks ABBA has not been so successful here “Because in Europe we have a different musical tradition. We like strong melody and sophisticated arrangements. We don’t have that rock and roll, rhythm and blues influence. We’re surrounded by classical music.
    “And we have had a lot of resistance to our music from critics, which we think unfair. We play around with many styles (The Beatles, Beach Boys, Phil Spector and even Bruce Springsteen are big influences) but critics doubt we have a serious approach to our music. They don’t even bother to listen. It’s a bit sad. Our music is worth more attention than it gets. They say we have no soul, but in Europe, and especially in Sweden, it’s a different kind of soul.”
    Bill Carlton, New York Daily News, September 28, 1979
    press ABBA a grabber

    ABBA, the Swedish singing sensation, made their long awaited New York debut at Radio City Musk Hall Tuesday night. In case you have been living in the wilds of Asia for the past five years, let me inform you that this group is the biggest selling act in recording history. (the Beatles not excepted). Since they got their act together five years ago ABBA has sold 150 million records.
    ABBA is Bjorn Ulvaeus, guitar; Benny Andersson, electronic keyboards, and singers Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog. They’re an extremely good looking, stylish quartet in their mid-30s with a fantastic ability to compose lush, melodic, clever and catchy pop songs. Their unflaggingly cheerful, upbeat musk is a beacon of optimism in a dark and cynical world.
    ABBA’s brand of wholesome family entertainment was perfectly suited to Radio City. They were a jewel set in a crown. There was no opening act. Heralded by a “Thus Spake Zarathustra”-type organ intro, ABBA appeared onstage shortly after 8 p.m. and delivered a smooth, well-paced and highly professional set lasting two hours.

    They have so many hits that they couldn’t possibly cram them all into one concert, but ABBA did their best. Highlights included “Voulez Vous,” the opener and current chart hit, “Fernando,” “Chiquitita” (the song they donated to the UNICEF “Year of the Child”-campaign and which has raised $200,000), “The Name of the
    Game,” and a new song, “Gimme, Gimme.” Stylistically, ABBA’s music runs the gamut from the Rosettes to the Beatles to Genesis to the Kingston Trio to Rod Stewart rock. At times they sound like Lawrence Welk after three glasses of champagne, the music is so squeaky clean and sanitary. ABBA is “Have A Nice Day” Stockholm style. So what’s wrong with that? The audience loved every minute of the show.
    Bill Carlton, New York Daily News, October 4, 1979

    Recordings

    • A fan recording circulates labeled as New York. However, it in fact contains just parts of the Milwaukee recording.

    Links

  • 1979, October 3 – Boston (USA)

    79Boston2

    Boston, Music Hall

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 4,200 (sold out)
    • Ticket prices: $7.50-8.50
    • The concert was delayed for 90 minutes because the small private jet with Agnetha, Frida and Benny (Björn took a different flight) was hit by a hurricane. After circling for more than one hour they finally did an emergency landing at Manchester, New Hampshire. The flight was a major shock especially for Agnetha.
    • The evening flight to Washington was cancelled and they stayed in Boston overnight.

    Press articles

    press Here comes ABBA
    Will first American tour finally make Sweden’s No. 1 pop gropu U.S. superstars?

    Will America, which has hung back while the rest of the world has crumpled like matchsticks, finally come under the spell of ABBA?
    The four-member Swedish pop band, which many Americans have heard of but can’t quite put in place, has become an international phenomenon. The group’s records, in fact, have become Sweden’s largest-grossing export, surpassing even the Volvo automobile.
    More than 100 million ABBA albums have been sold worldwide, an almost gaudy figure that represents more albums than any other band from the Rolling Stones to Kiss has sold in this decade.
    Yet, relatively speaking, ABBA has made only a small dent in the American market. It has had two platinum albums here (signifying a million units sold), but that hardly grants the members superstar status. To many listeners they remain a hazy entity, garnering spotty airplay and spotty sales.
    Why has ABBA, which is in the middle of its first US tour that includes a performance in the Music Hall next Wednesday, not broken through on a grand scale here?
    “For one thing,” said member-songwriter Bjorn Ulvaeus in a recent telephone interview, “we figured from the beginning we could make it just as big here as everywhere else without touring. But the States are the exception to the rule, it seems, because you have to tour to make it really big.
    “The rest of the world functions in another way. because if you do the right television show at the right time, you can make it by television. But that doesn't seem to be the case in the States. In fact, I can’t come up with any name, any act that has made it big here without touring.”
    Why did ABBA, then, think it could be the first?
    “Well,” Ulvaeus continued, “because it worked so well in the other countries. But maybe we should have listened more carefully to the people telling us we had to tour here. But that’s not the only reason. Another is that it takes us so long to write new material and to record. And we’ve only done one major tour all of the five years we’ve recorded, and that was in 1976 to Europe and Australia. So we’re not a touring band anyway.”
    Ulvaeus said, therefore, that ABBA which was rather hokily named by stringing together the first initial of each member's first name (Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Anderson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad) is extremely apprehensive about the 18-city American and Canadian tour.
    “Right now the four of us are walking around not knowing what’s going to happen,” he said. “I don't think I’ve been as nervous in my life as now. That’s the truth. And everything, however well organized, seems like chaos.”
    A major factor in ABBA’s success is that it is a composite of many styles, from a bubble- gum simplicity (heavily in fluenced by the early Beach Boys, 60s girl groups and producer Phil Spector to slickly orchestrated pop.
    American detractors, especially critics, have often found ABBA too sticky-sweet. Asked about his. Ulvaeus said, ”Especially here in the States you like to categorize, but it’s very hard to say where ABBA is. It’s very different for a lot of people. On the one hand they say it's just one of those commercial crap Euro-pop bands, but then on the other hand they’ve maybe heard something that doesn’t fit that image, and they start wondering.
    A lot of people are confused about what kind of music it is. But I think in the long run what people will feel and what they feel in Europe is that it’s honest music. We have a very honest and serious approach to writing and recording the music. Finally, I think that’s coming through.”
    A reason for the group's diversity is the background of its members. Ulvaeus had been in a Kingston Trio-style folk band, Andersson in a hard-rock group, while Lyngstad had sung mostly jazz and Faltskog had her own eclectic solo career.
    Together as ABBA, the four had its first US hit in 1974 with “Waterloo,” a semi-teenybop tune followed later by hits like “Mamma Mia” and “Fernando.” However, after that first hit, “Waterloo,” which was recorded multilingually, a misconception arose that all of ABBA’s hits and a reason for their international success was that they were recorded in several languages.
    “That did happen with ‘Waterloo,’” said Ulvaeus, setting things straight. “We did that song in English, Swedish, French and German – it sounds crazy in German – but after that we haven’t done it. We’ve only recorded in English, with one exception we did one of our recent singles, ‘Chiquitita,’ in Spanish just because we thought it was very suitable for the Spanish language. It’s become a giant hit in South America.” (This same song, whose rights were given to UNICEF by the band which along with the Bee Gees and others, performed at the United Nations this year in honor of the International Year of the Child has sold 6 million copies worldwide. In the Boston concert, ABBA will sing one song with 24 Wayland pupils, ages 8-14, as a salute to UNICEF.)
    Otherwise, ABBA records all of its material in English. “English is the language of rock ‘n’ roll and pop music,” said Ulvaeus. “There's nothing that comes near to it. So that’s the simple reason why we’re using English.”
    ABBA's songwriters, Ulvaeus and Andersson, do not deny their American influences (“Sweden is probably the most Americanized country in Europe,” said Ulvaeus), but they are ever on the lookout for new ideas. Known for their keen business sense, they also scrupulously keep abreast of contemporary trends.
    “We listen to absolutely everything that comes out,” said Ulvaeus. “We've got subscriptions for the American Top 40 and the English Top 40. And any record from a new group we always get. So we listen to everything, and it’s hard to say, when you get so many impulses, which is the heaviest.”
    Ulvaeus and Andersson who say they got together in hopes of becoming another Lennon and McCartney, prefer to think of themselves as writers and producers, rather than performers. Their resolute reliance on discipline is best seen in the way they sequester themselves to come up with songs.
    “The more you’ve written, the more it seems sometimes that you’ve written everything,” said Ulvaeus. “But I mean we’re in it for the writing, for the kick of knowing the tremendous reward of writing a good song. And we know that in the end we’ll come up with a good song. That’s why we keep working week after week even if nothing comes out.”
    Typically, the ABBA pattern is that Ulvaeus and Andersson spend six hours a day for a fortnight writing several songs, then with the women go into the studio to spend a week or two recording these few numbers. ABBA owns its own multimillion dollar studio (Polar Studio) in Stockholm, where Led Zeppelin also just recorded its latest album.
    Needled about the Hank Williams adage that if you can’t write a song in 15 minutes you might as well throw it out, Ulvaeus laughs and said, “Well then, they'd have to throw away all our stuff... I don’t think in the long run people can only work on inspiration; very few anyway. I would certainly like to be one of them, but I’m not.”
    In Sweden, where there are just as many People type magazines as in America, ABBA, much to its chagrin, has become hot gossip property. This is because of the nature of the band’s personal lives. Benny and Anni-Frid are married, while Bjorn and Agnetha were married but recently divorced. The magazines, according to Ulvaeus, are always trying to start rumors about their involvements.
    “We never talk to any of those writers, so they write only what they imagine. We don’t talk to them anymore because they’re not talking about the music anymore, just about gossip and money that’s all they’re interested in. They never even mention the music, so we don’t see any reason to talk to journalists like that.”
    Despite being harassed by such writers, Ulvaeus reserved special compliments for the Swedish people themselves:
    “They leave us alone. They really do. We can walk down the main street of Stockholm with people staring and absolutely 100 percent recognizing us, but they wouldn’t bother us. Which makes it a bit easier to live there. It would be impossible in countries like England and probably the States, if you were really well-known. But we don’t have to have guards out front of our houses. It’s very nice to have it that way, and it also makes us feel down-to-earth as well. That has meant a great deal, because when you think of yourself as a giant star, then that’s very dangerous.
    We don't want to live an asocial life. We don’t want to live secluded from the rest of the world.”
    Steve Morse, The Boston Globe, September 27, 1979
    press Just too slippery for comfort
    ABBA in concert at the Music Hall last night.

    ”They’re like four singing bankers.”
    “They’re like Henry Mancini totally inoffensive.”
    “Every song is so different that I feel like I’ve heard 1J different groups so far.”
    These were only some of the comments gleaned from thecrowd before and during last night’s Boston debut of ABBA, the Swedish band that has become a global phenomenon in its all-things-to-all-people musical strategy.
    Frankly, I expected more of a Bay City Roller crowd list night, but there literally were people of all ages and backgrounds. ABBA likes to call itself “The Ultimate Pop Group,” which was the title of its rather outrageously high-priced $7 souvenir program sold in the lobby. But an examination of the crowd did lend credence to such a status; however puffy.
    The band to this listener, though, was just too slippery for comfort. It is no wonder they don’t tour very often, since they visibly lack on stage the skillful sheen they exhibit in their studio craft. Last night they hid behind a squeaky-clean posture that reeked of packaged goodwill. Parts of their show had the thrown-together aspect of a high school musical, and they moved more like marionettes than real people. Four singing bankers, indeed.
    The two-hour show actually started 90 minutes late because a storm had held up the band’s arrival. The delay was bad enough, but it became worse when an announcer suggested the audience should bide its time buying ABBA posters and paraphernalia – which are like a sanitized version of the band Kiss’ endless fan-club doodads – out in the lobby.
    Once begun, the show took on an infuriating sense of diffusion. “Voulez-Vous,” the disco-drenched opener, incorporated a puny smoke-bomb effect that rivaled the in-sjpid attempt at same by Donny & Marie last summer in Cohasset. Succeeding songs also failed to pique genuine interest (Bjorn Ulvaeus’ “Rock Me” was a pathetic attempt to kick out), until, finally, the Spanish-flavored ballad “Chiquitita,” was touching in a consoling way, and “I Have a Dream” was heartwarming as well. On this one, given a UNI.CEF theme for the night, 26 elementary and junior high pupils from Wayland joined in jubilantly on the chorus. Each wore a UNICEF volunteer button.
    However, after this momentary highlight, ABBA retreated back into its stiff, calculated posing. The four
    leaders, backed by a six-piece band and three singers atop an all-white stage, blew kisses, sang gushily and wallowed in a kind of false purity that was as fatiguing as a daily bowl of Granola.
    Steve Morse, The Boston Globe, October 4, 1979

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.

    Links

  • 1979, October 4 – Washington D.C. (USA), cancelled

    Washington D.C., Constitution Hall

    Facts & trivia

    • After they had to stay in Boston overnight ABBA arrived by plane on October 4, Agnetha took a regular flight instead of the private jet though.
    • Agnetha got ill (40° C fever) and was ordered to stay in bed. The concert was cancelled, the 6,000 tickets were refunded.
    • On October 5 Agnetha still stayed in bed, assumedly all caused by the horror trip to Boston. Frida, Björn and Benny visited the White House to meet Amy Carter (the daughter of President Jimmy Carter) who wanted to attend the concert. Afterwards they also visited the Swedish embassy.
  • 1979, October 6 – Montréal (Canada)

    79Montreal2

    Montréal, Forum

    Facts & trivia

    • Agnetha had recovered enough to perform
    quoteThere were only two concerts left in Canada – Montreal and Toronto. I wanted to show up, at any price, for the public there although my legs were unsteady. They also showed up for me and that carried me through. When twelve thousand people in Montreal get up and wave and applaud a wave of energy hits you. You are given strength and are rewarded for all the hard work and it feels fantastic.
    Agnetha in As I Am, p. 86
    • Audience: 10,000 (presumedly sold out)
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Montreal Canadians, player Lafleur

    Set list

    • Thank You For The Music was not performed due to Agnetha’s health in the days before.

    Press articles

    press ABBA makes first visit to the Forum next Saturday

    The world’s biggest selling recording group had never played North America until it opened its world tour in Edmonton earlier this month.
    The Swedish group ABBA, described as a money-making machine by many, has been virtually anonymous to North Americans. True, two of the group's albums have sold more than a million copies each in the U.S. and the quartet has had two million-selling singles.
    In Canada the group’s Greatest Hits package has sold an astounding half a million copies.
    But that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the 100 million albums ABBA has sold throughout the world. Indeed, ABBA is Sweden's largest in dustry, outstripping the Volvo car company in profits.
    However, chances are you wouldn’t recognize Benny Anderson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog walking down the street.
    (The group gets its name from the first initial of the members’ first names).
    Montrealers will finally get to see the stage act at the Forum next Saturday night. It’ll be the second-to-last stop on the three-week American debut. Since concert “exposure” on the major American tour circuit translates itself into increased record sales, it’s sale to assume that Sweden's top industry will start selling records in the U.S. in proportion to sales in the rest of the world. Not to mention the sales of posters – which look more like hazy advertisements for clothes – and other ABBA paraphernalia.
    The group goes about making records in a most businesslike fashion. The distinctive ABBA sound is designed to make sweet but innocuous sounds. The sound is clever – relying more on a synthesis of folk, pop and classical influences rather than the standard American rock and blues sources – and fresh to the point of it being extremely antiseptic, but it's a formula that goes down like so much Pablum for millions of fans.
    As the group’s hefty-priced picture biography says: “ABBA make money on their records. They are well promoted. They are a business.”
    It all started rather innocently when Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus met in the mid-1960s. Bjorn led a band, the Hootenanny Singers, while Benny was leading his Beatlesque Hep Stars. They collided during a tour of Sweden's hinterlands and formed ABBA, which quickly became the country’s top group. They gradually went international in the 1970s.
    One of their songs, Waterloo, won top prize at the 19th annual Eurovision Song Festival Contest. Such competitions are a vital cog in the European music industry and 500 million television viewers in 32 countries saw ABBA’s rendition of the tune.
    Shrewd manager Stig Anderson has since guided their fortunes by promoting their songs with video tapes suitable for television. Mail order requests for a 12,000-capacity audience concert in London totalled 3.5 million.
    ABBA is also huge in Eastern European countries. Poland devoted its entire record purchase quota on the group and sold 800,000 records. The monies from sales in Communist countries are not allowed to leave the iron curtain, so ABBA has its own trading company which buys oil and other products and sells them to Sweden.
    In America the group’s reputation is founded on such chirpy numbers as Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, Mamma Mia, SOS, Fernando and the disco tinged Dancing Queen. A coupon listing various ABBA products comes enclosed with, the group’s latest record, Voulez-Vous, and the quartet’s bland visage will be available on T-shirts sold at the concert here next week.
    As their official biography says, ABBA represents the “ultimate” in pop music merchandising.
    Juan Rodriguez, The Gazette, September 29, 1979
    press Supergroup ABBA proves itself on stages

    Deep blue curtains rippled backwards, revealing a platform bathed in blue light.
    Amid smoke clouds billowing skyward, there they were, centre stage, the two beautiful Swedish songbirds in striped silk kaftans, blonde Agnetha Faltskog and redheaded Frida Lyngstag.
    Along with Benny Andersson on keyboards and Bjorn Ulvaeus on guitar, this was ABBA. The most concerted Scandinavian attack on North America since the days of the Vikings was under way at the Montreal Forum Saturday.
    ABBA’s four members hit the stage with a rousing version of their current hit Voulez Vous and were given a good welcome by a crowd -which, by the end of the evening, had turned a rock concert into a two-hour love affair that climaxed with the atmosphere of a street dance.
    ABBA is billed as the top-selling group in the history of recorded rock band ABBA take bows at, music, which is a rather ominous reputation to have to live up to.
    It’s true that this Swedish quartet has sold more than 100 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide, which makes them even more profitable than the Volvo corporation.
    But the proof of the pudding to most people is the live performance. ABBA had never performed in North America before the current Canadian and U.S. tour and it has been more than two years since they've done live work in Europe. So the question was: Would ABBA be able to deliver the goods on stage? Saturday night, they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only is ABBA for real, but the group is decidedly more dynamic and engaging in a live context than on record.
    ABBA’s performance surprised me because the music was just so much better than expected. I thought we’d probably be subjected to a jukebox-style presentation of hit after hit given in that sterile form that so many of today’s chart attractions indulge in for convenience sake.

    Power and energy
    Frankly, I was not ready for the power and energy that ABBA delivered. Accompanied by a solid group comprising drums, percussion, bass, a second keyboard player, as well as a trio of backup singers (two female and one male) ABBA did play virtually all their hits: S.O.S., Chtquitita, Fernando, The Name of the Game, Does Your Mother Know, Take a Chance On Me, plus many more.
    ABBA’s members are the masters of Euro-pop, a usually light, uptempo, danceable form of mainstream rock which was pioneered in the late 60s and early 70s by groups like Vanity Fare from England. ABBA’s music is good time stuff which attracts an amazing cross section of people.

    Jeans to furs
    That fact was obvious at the Forum. There was every imaginable sort of music lovpr in attendance, older men and women dressed up in their finery; families, couples and singles; people in jeans, disco gear, furs, frocks; the cool and the straight. Everyone brought with them a love for ABBA and, in that respect, they were all one.
    Backstage, after the show, I , talked with Andersson about the band’s sound. Many critics have tried but all have failed to find a reason for ABBA’s universal appeal. Andersson, who co-writes almost all the group’s songs, says he honestly doesn’t know either. ”I have no idea what it is in our songs that makes them so popular with so many different kinds of people. It’s quite a mystery. Perhaps it’s better that I don't know because if I did then all the fun would go out of making music.”
    Keeping on top of what’s popular at the moment is one of the reasons why some groups stay hot and others
    fade, Andersson agrees. “You must be aware of all the current trends in pop music. Take disco, for instance. When I'm at home, disco music doesn’t do a thing for me but if I go to a club, then I love it. So, if you’re writing pop music you must be able to understand why a trend is popular and then work it into your own music if you feel comfortable with it.”

    Great lighting
    Showmanship is crucial in live entertainment today. People are usually not willing to sit and listen. They want to be visually entertained as well. So ABBA relied heavily on a superbly rehearsed lighting system to do the job. It annointed the group with liquid light in pink, blue, amber, gold, turquoise, purple and red. The colors set off the band members who were dressed in skin-tight body stockings – white for the first half of the show and purple silk for the second.
    The lights added to the presence of the stage itself, which was all white except for the stylized blue and purple mountains which served as a backdrop. Theatrics were not left solely to the lighting. ABBA threw in a wrinkle, or two of their, own. During a rendition of the beautiful I Have a Dream, the stage was filled with a choir of children who sang the chorus. After receiving a thunderous ovation for their efforts, they did it again.
    This children’s group, recruited by UNICEF in Montreal was there partly in celebration of The Year of the Child and partly for UNICEF. ABBA has donated all royalties from the song Chiquita [sic!] to UNICEF.
    On another occasion, Lyngstag bounded onstage wearing a Montreal Canadiens jersey. You can imagine, the reaction when she turned around to reveal the name on the back – LAFLEUR.

    Party time
    As the evening progressed, the party atmosphere grew, with people beginning to enjoy themselves more and more. They stood on chairs, swaying, clapping and dancing along.
    When the group produced their famous revolving ABBA sign, the whole place was up. And when they left the stage, there was a great roar with the crowd surging forward and pleading for more. ABBA came back with a gentle ballad featuring Andersson on accordion, followed by Dancing Queen. That’s when the concert became a street dance.
    Another curtain call brought them back to do Waterloo. Then ABBA was gone. They had done an admirable job of pleasing 10,000 people.
    Although it was the smallest turnout of the tour, Andersson said no other audience had given back so much. “This was the best audience we have had. It’s strange, sometimes when you walk out there’s a feeling in the air that tells us that the people are here because they love our music and that feeling comes up to you on stage and that’s business of performing is all about. It’s fantastic.”
     Rick Overall, The Ottawa Journal,·October 9, 1979
    press ABBA: All the soul of talcum powder

    The young woman was clutching a crap-shooter’s bad of cash in one hand and making change with the other almost as fast as her two hands could move.
    It was 15 minutes before showtime and the kids and their mothers and fathers and even grandmothers and grandfathers were standing in line scooping up ABBA posters, ABBA programs, ABBA books and ABBA T-shirts, as quickly as the girl behind the counter could say “Three dollars, seven dollars, seven dollars and seven
    dollars.”
    The selling of ABBA in words and pictures and such cherished commodities as electric disco visors and belt buckles embellished with the Swedish super group’s logo are expected to bring the band over $ 1 million in royalties.
    Such is the selling power of the two men, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and two women, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog, who have become the best selling recording act in music history, now on a
    41-stop tour of North America and Europe. They played the Montreal Forum Saturday night.
    ABBA is as reknowned for the merchandising as its music, a smorgasborg of American and European pop
    sounds, delivered with part 1979 soul of Las Vegas, part cabaret exuberance.
    The group can sing English better than they speak it and it shows in their songs of moon-June lyrics and soap opera melodrama.
    But the numbers are catchy, delivered with TV studio precision using the full range of the American pop vernacular. ABBA is really 13 people on stage and with two percussionists, two keyboardists and seven or eight voices on almost every vocal part, they sound like a small choir with the soul of a dose of talcum powder.
    Helping them into the hearts of the family are their unabashed good looks, and the seductively endowed ladies, Lyngstad and Faltskog, who dress in costumes that look like spray-on high gloss enamel and strut enough to keep Pa interested, while the men work their blonde magic on Ma.
    It’s pop music with the mass appeal of Charlie’s Angels, and with its simple but insistent disco and pop rhythms culled from both sides of the Atlantic, its angelic harmonies and classical overtones, ABBA gives just enough of everything to keep almost everyone satisfied.
    For the foursome who originally met in a recording studio, it is a formula that has worked well since their first smash hit,”Waterloo,” in 1974.
    Since that time, with best sellers like “Ring Ring,” “Honey Honev.” “I Do, I Do, I Do...,” “Chiquitita” and “Fernando,” they have sold more than 100 million records. It is all fast-paced, well orchestrated, respectable rock and roll, with spacey lights, sets and costumes.
    Only the music refuses to take off.
    David Sherman, The Gazette, October 9, 1979

    Recordings

    • A fan recording is said to exist.
  • 1979, October 7 – Toronto (Canada)

    79Toronto279Toronto

    Toronto, Maple Leaf Gardens

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 16,400 (sold out)
    • Ticket prices: $9.50-10.50
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Toronto Maple Leafs (#21, Björn Salming)
    • Toronto shirts were worn by all ABBA members at several concerts, especially by Benny, pictures/videos with these shirts therefore don’t necessarily show the Toronto concert.

    Set list

    • Thank You For The Music was not performed due to Agnetha’s health in the days before.

    Press reviews

    press ABBA wowed us all in spandex and slick


    There isn't too much in the way of live family entertainment these days outside of a few secondrate circuses and the same old ice shows.
    Who cares. By the time something really special happens around here, the kids are too old for a night out with mom and pop.
    But maybe there’s hope. Maybe ABBA will come back to Toronto before it’s too late.
    Sunday night’s finale of the Swedish supergroup’s 18-date North American tour was a professional pop extravaganza the likes of which we might never see again.
    Operating with much the same attitude that governed the magnificient Supertramp shows a few months ago, ABBA’s presentation was slick, accurate and very self-confident.
    Given that the band was performing in a venue dominated by rock acts with a tendency towards heaviosity (c.f. Annie Hall), it would have been easy to strike up some sort of unfavorable comparison.
    The average 18-year-old  weaned on Cheap Trick could have written off all the costumes, scenery and styled hair as Vegas schlock. However ABBA, with world-wide sales of some 60,000,000 records, should not be lumped in the rock pile.
    Yet their validity is unquestioned.
    We’ve all heard ABBA’s tight harmonies and lush sounds on our car radios, but little did we expect all this to be reproduced before our eyes.
    A nine piece band, including three singers, were guided by ABBA’s Benny Andersson, who left most of the entertaining to Bjorn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog. Clad in futuristic spandex jumpsuits. the two girls took turns in the spotlight, finally showing the crowd of 18,000 just who was responsible for each hit from 1974’s Waterloo to the recent Take a Chance on Me.
    While the concert served to identify ABBA’s faceless pop, it also gave the group a chance to add some emotion to their music. This was the only area where all the accuracy worked against them.
    ABBA’s collective personality was a little chilly, although Ms. Lyngstad amused the crowd with an impersonation of Dietrich during It's a Rich Man’s World. Unfortunate too, were both girls’ klutzy attempts at dancing.
    Many in the audience had never witnessed such an extravaganza, but they left smiling because there was something in it for everyone.
    After the show Bjorn said the band doesn’t like touring for long periods and the tour, with all its lights and sounds, was costly for the 18 dates.
    One has the feeling ABBA felt they owed something to all those record buyers.
    Those who were lucky enough to be at The Gardens were paid back with interest.
    Johnathan Gross
    quoteABBA plays with surprising power and volume; but although they are loud, they’re also clear, which does justice to the signature vocal sound… Anyone who’s been waiting five years to see Abba will be well satisfied.
    Record World

    Recordings

    • a fan recording is speculated to exist, details unknown

    Media

  • 1979, October 19 – Gothenburg (Sweden)

    Scandinavium79Gothenburg

    Gothenburg, Scandinavium

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 12,400 (sold out)
    • Begin: 19.30

    Set list

      Waterloo wasn’t played.

    Reviews

    press ABBA in Scandinavium – Cool reception
    When artists meet their most loyal fans, there is a lot to do for it not to be successful – if it succeeds a jubilant audience, extra number and a disappointed sorrow when the light is lit in the concert hall and everything is over.
    ABBA has a very large and faithful audience. Recently, the group completed a North American tour in an effort to make it even bigger. On Friday night, ABBA started the European part of the tour of Scandinavium in Gothenburg. It was sold out of course and more than 12,000 had come to listen. In addition, it was the first gig at home for over two years. Then it must be bedded for succee as the term was initially defined.
    No not at all. ABBA received a surprisingly cool reception. For example, the pre-given extra number '”Thank you for the music” never came in. The audience had received this if it wanted to.
    ABBA with a talented comp group offers a generous performance with just over 20 songs. That’s exactly what Stikkan Andersson says, that ABBA is one of the few groups that can put together a two-hour performance with solid hits.
    “SOS”, “Fernando”, “Money, Money” and some more are undoubtedly very strong top songs that do not lose the power of being presented from the scene. The element of children’s choir – this time from the International School in Gothenburg – is the nibble, in my opinion just too close. The rock-oriented audience can feel at home when Mats spots on his mouthpiece or when Lasse Welander flows into a long guitar solo in “Eagle”.
    But there are also weaknesses in the performance. Perhaps these have to do with Abba not being able to really raise the pressure when it is supposed to be raised as in the closing rocky number. Or that they make themselves unnecessarily inaccessible through lighting, stage solutions and clothes or, more precisely, knitwear. When someone emerges, what you see important for the overall impression Abba has during this tour is to lay a blank surface over the show, which is only broken through sometimes, then mainly by Frida in some dance numbers and by Benny's game joy.
    It is in any case something that does not really match the audience's reaction during and after the concert confirms this.
    Lars Wallrup – October 20, 1979

    Fan recording

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn't For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Chiquitita
    8. The Name Of The Game
    9. Eagle (final part only)
    10. Thank You For The Music
    11. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    12. Intermezzo no. 1
    13. I'm Still Alive
    14. Summer Night City
    15. Take A Chance On Me (beginning only)

    Links

  • 1979, October 20 – Stockholm (Sweden)

    79Stockholm79Stockholm179Stockholm2

    Stockholm, Johanneshovs Isstadion

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 11,000 (sold out)
    • Begin: 19.30
    • Swedish queen Silvia was in the audience
    • Choir for I Have A Dream: Stockholm International School
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: AIK (Solna) and Djurgårdens IF

    Reviews

    press ABBA in Stockholm: Multiple better show – but still lacks

    ABBA did a lot better in Stockholm on Saturday night than it did at Friday’s European premiere in
    Gothenburg. The audience was on the notes in a completely different way, which affected especially the four perchs most clearly.
    Sometimes the joy of playing around the group radiated, and what seemed to have shrunk in Gothenburg suddenly felt natural. The Stockholm public received a reward in the form of the schlagern “Waterloo” as an extra extra number. The people of Gothenburg did not hear it.
    But nevertheless there are fundamental weaknesses in the show, which are hardly eliminated by the day being successful. Despite honest efforts to go to ABBA’s two Swedish concerts with open minds and without preconceived opinions, I can only feel a certain disappointment.

    The concerts have not been directly bad, at least Saturday’s, but considering how professional and almost perfectionist the group works in the studio, one should be able to wait more of the lavish and long-prepared stage show.
    What is missing is either spontaneity and the desire to play with the material or a stronger, strictly repeated visual show with surprise moments and ambitious choreography. The show ABBA now shows Europe and the United States is nothing but an impressive “greatest hits” collection, straight up and down in a cool but relatively tasteful blue-white scenography.
    At least in Sweden and the rest of Europe, ABBA meets almost exclusively audiences who have their records or who in any case have heard them several times. Instead of striving to recreate the record sound on stage, they would very well – like Bob Dylan did last summer – be able to rearrange parts of the material. They could be more unpretentious, talk more with the audience, play more accordion, sing some song in Swedish and make more effort to create atmosphere in the salon.

    If they do not want this (at least Benny and Frida seem to want) then they should instead bring the disc reproductions stronger visual show, in the form of eg. dance. Frida tries, it's good. Björn also tries, it’s not good.

    You are basically waiting in vain for spectacular features or surprises. The exceptions are the children's choir – you can only love or hate it, I hate myself – and Frida's striptease with AIK’s and DIF’s hockey shirts. It missed the Gothenburg people. They just have a hockey team, if even something ...

    Some good pops are of course invited, though not better than on the album. Björn and Benny have undeniably written an impressive amount of good, simple pop songs.
    The nine-man band behind ABBA is excellent, with special plus for guitar duo Wellander / Ronander. Benny Andersson’s piano play is superb. Also Tomas Ledin should have a praise for the pumping disco track “Not Bad At All”.
    Gunnar Salander – October 21, 1979

    Fan recording

    1. Voulez-Vous
    2. If It Wasn't For The Nights
    3. As Good As New
    4. Rock Me
    5. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    6. Money, Money, Money
    7. I Have A Dream
    8. SOS
    9. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    10. Intermezzo no. 1
    11. I'm Still Alive
    12. Take A Chance On Me
    13. Does Your Mother Know
    14. Hole In Your Soul
    15. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    16. Encore – Dancing Queen
    17. Encore – Waterloo

    Links

  • 1979, October 21 – Copenhagen (Denmark)

    74kopenhagen279Kopenhagen

    Copenhagen, Falkonerteatret

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: sold out
    • Begin: 20.00

    Fan recording

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn't For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    17. Intermezzo no. 1
    18. I'm Still Alive
    19. Summer Night City
    20. Take A Chance On Me
    21. Does Your Mother Know
    22. Hole In Your Soul
    23. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    24. Encore – Dancing Queen (incomplete)

    Fan video

    Some video material exists, including snippets of the following songs:

    • Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    • Voulez-Vous
    • If It Wasn't For The Nights
    • Money, Money, Money
    • Rock Me
    • Not Bad At All (Tomas Ledin)
    • Chiquitita
    • I Have A Dream
    • Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    • Fernando
    • Eagle
    • Why Did It Have To Be Me
    • Intermezzo no. 1
    • I'm Still Alive
    • Summer Night City
    • Take A Chance On Me
    • Does Your Mother Know
    • Hole In Your Soul

    Watch it on Youtube: Part 1Part 2Part 3

    Links

  • 1979, October 23 – Paris (France)

    79Paris179Paris379Paris

    Paris, Pavillon de Paris

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 7,000 (sold out, a rest of the tickets got sold at the evening of the concert)
    • Begin: 20.00

    Fan recording

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. As Good As New
    4. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    5. Rock Me
    6. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    7. Chiquitita
    8. Money, Money, Money
    9. I Have A Dream
    10. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    11. SOS
    12. Fernando
    13. The Name Of The Game
    14. Eagle
    15. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    16. Intermezzo No. 1
    17. I'm Still Alive
    18. Summer Night City
    19. Take A Chance On Me
    20. Does Your Mother Know
    21. Hole In Your Soul
    22. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    23. Encore – Dancing Queen (incomplete)
  • 1979, October 24 – Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

    79Rotterdam279Rotterdam

    Rotterdam, Ahoy Sportpaleis

    Facts & trivia

    • ABBA arrived in the early afternoon and stayed at the Hilton Hotel, they left the hotel for the concert at
      around 17.30
    • Audience: 8,000 to 8,500 (sold out)
    • Children’s choir on I Have A Dream: Rotterdam music school
    • The choir was asked to also study Thank You For The Music because at first ABBA intended to perform it with a choir as well
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Feyenoord Rotterdam #14

    Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    17. Intermezzo no. 1
    18. I'm Still Alive
    19. Summer Night City
    20. Take A Chance On Me
    21. Does Your Mother Know
    22. Hole In Your Soul
    23. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    24. Encore – Dancing Queen
    25. Encore – Waterloo

    Recordings

    A fan recording does exist, the complete tack list is unknown though.

    • As Good As New

    Links

  • 1979, October 25 – Dortmund (Germany)

    79Dortmund279Dortmund79Dortmund3

    Dortmund, Westfalenhalle

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: sold out
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Costume change to blue suits prior to I’m Still Alive
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Borussia Dortmund
    • Frida, Benny & Björn arrived by private jet from Rotterdam, Agnetha by car
    • After the concert ABBA were invited by a brewery for a midnight party where they stayed until 4.00.

    Fan recordings

    • Audio recording might come from the video.
    • Voulez-Vous
    • Chiquitita
    • I Have A Dream (with local children choir)
    • Eagle
    • Why Did It Have To Be Me
    • I’m Still Alive
    • Summer Night City
    • Take A Chance On Me
    • Does Your Mother Know
    • Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    • Encore – Dancing Queen
    • Encore – Waterloo (maybe from a different venue)

    A fan video exists including excerpts of these tracks:

    • Voulez-Vous
    • I Have A Dream
    • Chiquitita
    • Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    • Eagle
    • Why Did It Have To Be Me
    • I’m Still Alive
    • Take A Chance On Me
    • Does Your Mother Know
    • The Way Old Friends Do
    • Dancing Queen

    Links

  • 1979, October 27 – Munich (Germany)

    79München1Munich

    Munich, Olympiahalle

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: sold out
    • Begin: 20.00
    • ABBA arrived at the airport Munich Riem on October 26 and stayed at the Hilton hotel in Munich. See the Bravo report linked below for more information about their activies.

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.

    Links

  • 1979, October 28 – Zürich (Switzerland)

    79Zürich279Zürich

    Zürich, Hallenstadion

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 10,000 (sold out within 36 hours)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Apparently about 30 fans bought faked tickets, but were let in nevertheless after it was reported to ABBA and/or the management
    • ABBA arrived at the airport Zürich-Kloten at 14.05, sound check scheduled for 17.00, doors opened at 19.00
    • ABBA stayed at the Atlantis Sheraton Hotel (known today as “Atlantis by Giardano”) and departed from Zürich airport at 11.45 the following day
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Grasshopper Club Zürich (football)
    • school choir: from Altstätten am Albis
    • in the audience there also was famous Swiss comedian Emil

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.

    Links

  • 1979, October 29 – Vienna (Austria)

    79Vienna179Vienna2

    Vienna, Stadthalle

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: sold out (a rest of tickets got sold at the evening of the concert)
    • Begin: 19.30

    Fan recording

    Listen here Listen here (external site)

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    17. Intermezzo no. 1
    18. I’m Still Alive
    19. Summer Night City
    20. Take A Chance On Me
    21. Does Your Mother Know
    22. Hole In Your Soul
    23. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    24. Encore – Dancing Queen
    25. Encore – Waterloo

    Links

  • 1979, October 30 – Stuttgart (Germany)

    Sporthalle BöblingenStuttgart/Böblingen Ticket

    Stuttgart, Sporthalle Böblingen

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: sold out (when it was taken down in 2008 the capacity was about 6,000)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Böblingen actually is a town of its own about 10 km away from Stuttgart

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.
  • 1979, November 1 – Bremen (Germany)

    79bremen279bremen1

    Bremen, Stadthalle

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: sold out
    • Begin: 20.00
    • ABBA stayed at the Park Hotel
    • Frida's shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: a ‘Pentax’ shirt; Pentax was the main sponsor of the football club Werder Bremen, the shirt Frida was wearing wasn’t the actual Werder shirt though, it neither was green-white was there any club logo on it

    Press reviews

    For the conditions of the Stadthalle the sound was bearable and somewhat differentiated, therefore you can say that the backing band and choir did a very good job in adding the necessary volume to the sometimes rather thin Abba vocals.
    Weser-Kurier, November 1979

    Entry in the guestbook of the Stadthalle BremenFan recordings

    • Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    • Voulez-Vous
    • As Good As New
    • Knowing Me, Knowing You
    • Rock Me
    • Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    • Chiquitita
    • Money, Money, Money
    • I Have A Dream
    • Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    • SOS
    • Fernando
    • The Name Of The Game
    • Eagle
    • Why Did It Have To Be Me
    • Intermezzo no. 1
    • I'm Still Alive
    • Summer Night City
    • Take A Chance On Me
    • Does Your Mother Know
    • Hole In Your Soul
    • Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    • Encore – Dancing Queen (incomplete)
       
    • Super 8 footage of I’m Still Alive, Summer Night City / Hole In Your Soul and Waterloo said to be filmed in Bremen

    Links

    • Weser-Kurier (Germany) – Von Abba bis Beyoncé: Die Gästebuch-Einträge der Stadthalle Bremen, Gallery with picture 9 showing ABBA’s entry in the guestbook of the Stadthalle Bremen.
  • 1979, November 2 – Frankfurt (Germany)

    79Frankfurt279Frankfurt1

    Frankfurt, Festhalle

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: sold out
    • Begin: 20.00

    Reviews

    79FrankfurtPressChristmas spirit in November
    In Frankfurt the Abba ended their tour of Germany

    Swedish snacks and earworms in the Frankfurt Festhalle. The "Abba" were there - and although 6,000 fans, did not climb the chairs in the remaining round of the six-day race track with enthusiasm, they chanted: "We love ABBA."
    After five years, it was the first direct re-encounter with the candy sound of the mixed doubles from Sweden, whose world tour slowly draws to a close and the travel fatigue costs its toll also on stage.
    Thereis no room for spontaneity in the Abba program, instead the perfection is as Nordic-cool as the gentle sex that radiates from the Abba ladies Agnetha and Annifrid in unflattering tights for not quite two hours.
    It all started with the invitation "Voulez-vous?", at the end the for the career of this until now most successful pop duo in the world not so programmatic "Waterloo". Between these two titles Abba present a revue of their "Greatest Hits" and thus provide the tirelessness and simplicity of their success formula to the test.
    Hardly one of their million-sellers lacked from the program this evening, the fans will be satisfied. Cheerfulness was trump all the way, sometimes there was some emotion too when for example a children choir from Frankfurt was allowed to sing on stage, and many thereat got into the Christmas spirit.
    79FrankfurtPressWeihnachtsstimmung im November
    Die Abba beendeten in Frankfurt ihre Deutschland-Tournee

    Schwedenhappen und Ohrwürmer in der Frankfurter Festhalle. Die "Abba" waren da – und 6000 Fans, die vor Begeisterung zwar nicht die Stühle im noch vorhandenen Rund der Sechstagerennbahn erklommen, doch mit Sprechchören kundtaten: "Wir lieben ABBA."
    Nach fünf Jahren war es die erste direkte Wiederbegegnung mit dem Bonbonsound des gemischten Doppels aus Schweden, dessen Welttournee sich langsam dem Ende zuneigt und dessen Reisemüdigkeit auch auf der Bühne ihren Tribut kostet.
    Spontaneität ist im Abba-Programm nicht drin, die Perfektion dafür nordisch-kühl wie der sanfte Sex, den die beiden Abba-Damen Agnetha und Annifrid im unvorteilhaften Trikot nicht ganz zwei Stunden lang abstrahlen.
    Am Anfang stand die Aufforderung "Voulez-vous?", am Ende das für die Karriere dieses bis dato erfolgreichsten Pop-Duos der Welt gar nicht so programmatische "Waterloo". Zwischen diesen beiden Titeln präsentieren die Abba eine Revue ihrer "Greatest Hits" und stellen damit Unermüdlichkeit und Schlichtheit ihres Erfolgsrezeptes unter Beweis.
    Kaum einer ihrer Millionen-Seller fehlte an diesem Abend im Programm, die Fans dürften zufrieden gewesen sein. Fröhlichkeit war Trumpf bei allem, auch mal Rührung, wenn da etwa ein Frankfurter Kinderchor auf der Bühne mitsingen durfte und so mancher darob in Weihnachtsstimmung geriet.
    Bernd Deck, unknown newspaper

    Recordings

    • No recording is known to exist.

    Links

    • ABBA-Intermezzo – The Intermezzo magazine #74 features some pictures and memories
  • 1979, November 3 – Brussels (Belgium)

    79Brussels279Brussels1

    Brussels, Forest National

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: sold out
    • Begin: 20.30

    Recordings

    • A file labeled as being from Brussels in fact contains a recording of the Stockholm concert. However, a recording is said to exist.
  • 1979, November 5 – London (United Kingdom)

    79Wembley179Wembley379Wembley2

    London, Wembley Arena

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 8,000 (sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Arsenal London
    • Benny partly wore his Toronto Maple Leafs shirt
    • Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Justin Hayward (Moody Blues) and Joe Strummer (The Clash) were visiting the concerts

     Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Thank You For The Music
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I’m Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    26. Encore – Waterloo

    Recordings

    • All Wembley concerts were recorded by Michael Tretow and partly were used for a radio special and ABBA Live.
    • Swedish Television (SVT) filmed during two concerts for the TV special ABBA In Concert, a complete concert wasn't filmed though
    • Only days after the last show of the concert tour, work began on the recordings made at the six nights at Wembley Arena. There was some urgency to these sessions. A live version of ‘Take A Chance On Me’ was needed for the B-side of ‘I Have A Dream’, scheduled for single release in early December; the BBC radio special must be put together; and the SVT producers were eagerly awaiting a stereo concert soundtrack for the tour documentary.
      First, the tapes had to be listened to and the best version of each tune identified. Then the four ABBA members – and perhaps also some of the backing musicians – had to fix any mistakes on the live recording so that they sounded as good as possible. And then the recordings were to be mixed.

    Links

  • 1979, November 6 – London (United Kingdom)

    79Wembley179Wembley3Wembley6

    London, Wembley Arena

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 8,000 (sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida's shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Arsenal London
    • Benny partly wore his Toronto Maple Leafs shirt
    • Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Justin Hayward (Moody Blues) and Joe Strummer (The Clash) were visiting the concerts

     Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Thank You For The Music
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I’m Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    26. Encore – Waterloo

    Recordings

    • All Wembley concerts were recorded by Michael Tretow and partly were used for a radio special and ABBA Live.
    • Swedish Television (SVT) filmed during two concerts for the TV special ABBA In Concert, a complete concert wasn't filmed though

    Links

  • 1979, November 7 – London (United Kingdom)

    79Wembley179Wembley3Wembley7

    London, Wembley Arena

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 8,000 (sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida's shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Arsenal London
    • Benny partly wore his Toronto Maple Leafs shirt
    • Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Justin Hayward (Moody Blues) and Joe Strummer (The Clash) were visiting the concerts

     Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Thank You For The Music
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I’m Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    26. Encore – Waterloo

    Recordings

    • All Wembley concerts were recorded by Michael Tretow and partly were used for a radio special and ABBA Live.
    • Swedish Television (SVT) filmed during two concerts for the TV special ABBA In Concert, a complete concert wasn't filmed though

    Links

  • 1979, November 8 – London (United Kingdom)

    79Wembley179Wembley3Wembley8

    London, Wembley Arena

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 8,000 (sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Arsenal London
    • Benny partly wore his Toronto Maple Leafs shirt
    • Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Justin Hayward (Moody Blues) and Joe Strummer (The Clash) were visiting the concerts

     Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Thank You For The Music
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I’m Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    26. Encore – Waterloo

    Recordings

    • All Wembley concerts were recorded by Michael Tretow and partly were used for a radio special and ABBA Live.
    • Swedish Television (SVT) filmed during two concerts for the TV special ABBA In Concert, a complete concert wasn't filmed though

    Links

  • 1979, November 9 – London (United Kingdom)

    79Wembley179Wembley3Wembley9

    London, Wembley Arena

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 8,000 (sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Arsenal London
    • Benny partly wore his Toronto Maple Leafs shirt
    • Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Justin Hayward (Moody Blues) and Joe Strummer (The Clash) were visiting the concerts

     Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Thank You For The Music
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I’m Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    26. Encore – Waterloo

    Recordings

    • All Wembley concerts were recorded by Michael Tretow and partly were used for a radio special and ABBA Live.
    • Swedish Television (SVT) filmed during two concerts for the TV special ABBA In Concert, a complete concert wasn't filmed though

    Links

  • 1979, November 10 – London (United Kingdom)

    79Wembley179Wembley3Wembley10

    London, Wembley Arena

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 8,000 (sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Arsenal London
    • Benny partly wore his Toronto Maple Leafs shirt
    • Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Justin Hayward (Moody Blues) and Joe Strummer (The Clash) were visiting the concerts

     Set list

    1. Introduction: Gammal fäbodpsalm
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Thank You For The Music
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I’m Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    26. Encore – Waterloo

    Recordings

    • All Wembley concerts were recorded by Michael Tretow and partly were used for a radio special and ABBA Live.
    • ABBA Live at Wembley Arena (the complete concert of November 10 without Not Bad At All)
    • Swedish Television (SVT) filmed during two concerts for the TV special ABBA In Concert, a complete concert wasn’t filmed though

    Links

  • 1979, November 11 – Stafford (United Kingdom)

    BingleyHallStafford11

    Stafford, Bingley Hall

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 7,500 (sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00
    • Actor John Forgeham was in the audience on November 11
    ABBA Stafford Bingley Hall 11 November, 1979

    [...] My mate Davy and I went to see Abba at Stafford Bingley Hall at the height of their fame in 1979. Abba toured the UK twice, once in 1977 and again in 1979, and played around a dozen shows in the UK in total. Their first tour was at smaller venues such as Glasgow Apollo, and I remember regretting missing them on that tour. So when they announced some dates at larger venues in 1979, I bought a couple of tickets to see them in Stafford Bingley Hall. The concert was on a Sunday, and we drove down to the concert on the afternoon, and as I recall, went to a chinese restaurant for a meal before the gig.
    Stafford Bingley Hall was used for gigs throughout the 70s, Davy and I also went there to see The Who in the mid 70s. It was a big old cattle market, and smelt like one! For the ABBA concert they laid plastic seats in rows, we were in Row 18, which wasn’t too far away from the front. I don’t recall there being any support act for this gig. One thing I do remember is we were both were quite tickled that the actor, John Forgeham, who played Jim Baines in Crossroads at the time was sitting in the next row. [....] The four members of Abba were accompanied by a band, and by a large choir of local children for I Have a Dream. They played all the hits and a selection of album tracks. The sound at big gigs wasn’t great in those days, and I seem to remember that being the case at this gig; it was quite quiet in comparison to a more traditional rock concert. Davy and I really enjoyed it, and I still look back on this gig with fond memories and feel quite lucky that I got to see Abba.
    Vintagerock's Weblog – January 22, 2012

    Recordings

    • No fan recording is known to exist.

    Links

  • 1979, November 12 – Stafford (United Kingdom)

    BingleyHallStafford12

    Stafford, Bingley Hall

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 7,500 (sold out)
    • Begin: 20.00

    Recordings

  • 1979, November 13 – Glasgow (United Kingdom)

    79Glasgow279Glasgow

    Glasgow, Apollo Theatre

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: sold out
    • Begin: 19.30
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: Glasgow Rangers
    • Reportedly Frida suffered from a sore throat
    • At some point Benny played a traditional Scottish song
      (reportedly either Flower of Scotland or Scotland the Brave)

    Recordings

    • Apparently a fan recording exists.

    Links

  • 1979, November 15 – Dublin (Ireland)

    79Dublin79Dublin179Dublin3

    Dublin, R.D.S. Main Hall

    Facts & trivia

    • Audience: 4,000 (sold out within two hours, black-market tickets were sold for up to £ 80-130, a record at that time)
    • Frida’s shirt for Why Did It Have To Be Me: may have been Dublin GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association)
    • Children’s choir on I Have A Dream: “The Rising Stars”, a girls choir, for the concert it was combined with 6 boys, so 20 children altogether
    • Frida turned 34 that day, the children’s choir presented her with a birthday cake, the band sang “Happy Birthday” and each of them handed her a red rose
    • Frida, Benny & Björn arrived with a helicopter on November 15 while Agnetha had arrived one day before
    • ABBA stayed at The Gresham Hotel where they also partied after the concert (a “£ 10,000 party” which lasted “until dawn” – Irish Independent, November 16, 1979)
    • plans of April scheduled the concert for November 11 and also left a chance for another concert in Belfast (Evening Press, April 22)

    Press reviews

    quoteIt turned out to be a mesmerising experience. Not for a long time has time itself flown by so fast at a live show. In fact, I thought they were just getting into their stride when to my surprise it was nearly all over. [...]
    One of Abba’s road crew had discovered what we all knew, that the acoustics at the RDS are dreadful.
    But Abba overcame all that with probably the most elaborate and expensive technical rig ever seen in this country. [...]
    It says a lot for Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson that their energy and showmanship was able to distract me from Anna Frida Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog, two of the most stunning ladies ever to grace any pop group.
    [...] The synthesisers on stage were obviously the best that Japanese technology can make – at times it sounded like they had the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra backing them.
    Everything was almost too perfect. But yes, they are human. At one pont, in a lively and dramatic dance with a microphone stand, Agnetha (or was it Anna-Frida?) actually let it fall. And everyone sang happy birthday to Anna-Frida while the band members individually presented her with a rose. [...]
    Other concerts have been better musically, some have been good visually but Abba combined the lot. As somebody else sings, I’ve ain’t ever seen like it in my life.
    Mike Clare in Evening Herald, November 16, 1979
    quoteThere was “Rock Me”, the gentle Spanish-flavoured “Chiquitita” and “Money, Money”, all modern-day classics before the song which turned out to be the highlight of the evening – Abba, joined by an augmented
    20-voice children’s choir [...] and the applause which followed was probably the most sustained of the entire show. [...]
    They played straight and safe with all their well-known hits, but still the show sagged slightly in the middle as the familiar sounds ran one after the other into a trough which seemed to suggest sameness. [...]
    All in all it was one of those evenings of good clean entertainment which made a lot of people happy, not least the 200 who turned up ticketlessbut were rewarded nonetheless when promoter Jim Aiken opened the doors and let them in.
    Evening Press, November 16, 1979
    quoteThe average age of the audience was way above the norm for a Dublin pop concert.
    Irish Independent, November 16, 1979
    quoteIn the RDS last night, however, along with their excellent backing band, they shattered the myth that they could not produce on stage the same quality sound as their records. [...]
    Last night’s show, the end of a two-month tour, was very straightforward with few gimmicks. The night belonged to Agnetha, who sang with verve when needed, but who could also handle the torch balld with ease.
    Her best performance and indeed the highlight of the night, was her aggressive singing of their latest hit
    “Gimme, gimme”. [...] The other members where a bit less to the fore though Anna Frida, celebrating her birthday, took her fair share of the limelight.
    Joe Breen in Irish Times, November 16, 1979

    Set list

    1. Introduction: Danny Boy
    2. Voulez-Vous
    3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights
    4. As Good As New
    5. Knowing Me, Knowing You
    6. Rock Me
    7. Not Bad At All
      (by Tomas Ledin, sung by Tomas Ledin & Mats Ronander with Agnetha & Frida joining the backing vocals)
    8. Chiquitita
    9. Money, Money, Money
    10. I Have A Dream (performed with children’s choir)
    11. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    12. SOS
    13. Fernando
    14. The Name Of The Game
    15. Eagle
    16. Thank You For The Music
    17. Why Did It Have To Be Me
    18. Intermezzo no. 1
    19. I’m Still Alive
    20. Summer Night City
    21. Take A Chance On Me
    22. Does Your Mother Know
    23. Hole In Your Soul
    24. Encore – The Way Old Friends Do
    25. Encore – Dancing Queen
    26. Encore – Waterloo
    quoteBenny played a masterstroke right at the start. Instead of the usual synthasized opening while the curtains were drawn and the lights were deep blue he struck up Danny Boy.
    ABBA Magazine No.22, p. 5

    Recordings

    • A fan recording is claimed to exist, though said to be of bad quality.
    • ABBA on TV: Good Evening Ulster
      News report with some footage of their arrival, an interview with Benny & Björn and also some rehaersal snippets

    Links

     

    Ticket picture and press articles thanks to Trish Loughman

 

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