The ABBA members about touring and being on stage
General statements without any direct link to a specific venue or tour. Made during ABBA’s active years or in hindsight and collected here without comment or editorial text. The ABBA members in their own words.
There’s always a special atmosphere backstage, a nervous one. People are running back and forth calling to each other. It often feels like being at the circus. During the years, I’ve learned how important it is to relax, to have a moment to yourself before it’s time to go on.
Our children are often backstage when we perform. Mostly, we resemble a circus family. Everyone helps each other with clothes, make-up, hair styling, going for coffee and so on. It provides security and a group feeling. You’re a part of something more than just four people who sing together.
Worst of all are the minutes just before you go on stage. You’re made up, clothes all in order, bursting with energy, but you can’t take the stage. You have to wait for your cue.
Agnetha in International ABBA Magazine #8, July 1982
I’m often struck by the thought of how unfair it is that all the praise goes to those who stand in the spotlight. You must never forget the importance of the people who work backstage. When we do something big like a TV special or a tour, we have an entire team of people who strive to see that everything goes as smoothly as possible for us. If everything is working, you can go out and give the audience your best.
Just as important as their being skilled professionals is their being nice people. If the person doing my make-up is in a bad mood, I get into a bad mood myself. The people who create our clothes have to know our personalities in order to make the right things.
When I stand at the front of the stage and received the applause of the audience I would like to give a part of that praise to everyone who has worked behind me.
Benny in International ABBA Magazine #8, July 1982
With ABBA we were trying to make good recordings, we spent time in the studio. We didn’t too many tours because we needed time to write and be in the studio. And it was never easy to reproduce what we did in the
studio. With my orchestra now [BAO] it’s a totally different thing. We meet, we play and then we record that. It’s actually the total opposite. Basically it’s like we just play, everybody at the same time, one, two, three, and then we record that. So it’s a big difference, it’s for fun.
Benny in the documentary ABBA P.S., 2014
Touring is very tiring, but it’s also very, very nice to meet the audience and to be on stage when you have been there for maybe half an hour you get warm in your clothes and you really can take in everything.
Agnetha in the documentary ABBA P.S., 2014
I loved to be on stage, that’s for sure. I loved every minute of it. [...] You go into a kind of role and you are
there. The exchange between the audience and yourself and the musicians and everything is such a powerful energy. So that’s wonderful, whereas in the studio you work quite differently. It’s very detailed and you work and you work and you work, maybe on the same things over and over again to get the perfection. So of course you have to rehearse a lot before a concert tour, but on the other hand when you are there on stage you just deliver and that’s a lot of happiness to do that.
Frida in the documentary ABBA P.S., 2014
The only thing that I regret [regarding ABBA] is that back then we did not do as much touring as we should have done, and so far we have never really tasted the excitement that prevailed in the world. I mean, we did a lot of promotion, no question. We often were in Germany to appear on TV programs. Just like in England, France and Spain. But we have never played much live. There were just two real tours – in nine years. Which is insanely little. Especially in view of the demand then. We were on tour for maybe three or four months altogether. That's all. That was also because Björn and I knew we had to take the time to write songs. Because I just needed it – and still do.
I do not work under stress, but take a while to think of something that I think is good enough to be published. And I guess that way of thinking was good for us.
Das Einzige, was ich bedaure, ist, dass wir damals nicht so viel getourt sind, wie wir es eigentlich hätten tun sollen, und dass wir die Begeisterung, die auf der Welt herrschte, insofern nie richtig ausgekostet haben. Ich meine, wir haben viel Promotion gemacht, keine Frage. Wir waren öfters in Deutschland, um in TV-Sendungen aufzutreten. Genau wie in England, Frankreich und Spanien. Aber wir haben nie viel live gespielt. Es waren gerade mal zwei richtige Tourneen – und das in neun Jahren. Was wahnsinnig wenig ist. Gerade angesichts der damaligen Nachfrage. Wir waren insgesamt vielleicht drei oder vier Monate auf Tour. Das ist alles. Das lag auch daran, dass Björn und ich wussten, dass wir uns selbst Zeit zum Schreiben von Songs geben mussten. Denn die brauche ich einfach – und zwar immer noch. Ich funktioniere nicht unter Stress, sondern benötige eine ganze Weile, ehe mir etwas einfällt, das ich als gut genug erachte, um es zu veröffentlichen. Und ich schätze, diese Art des Denkens hat uns gutgetan.