Full with anticipation and quite unsure of what to expect, we arrived at the purpose-built arena shortly after 630pm. Located right next to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the 25.5m steel and timber hexagonal building has a 3,000 person capacity made up of 1,650 seats and space for a standing audience of 1,350.
The waiting area consists of several stores with exclusive ABBA Voyage merchandise, bars and food outlets that create a convivial atmosphere for patrons to mingle and admire each other’s outfits in a well lit area. Then, promptly at 7:45pm, the lights go out, the arena erupts in applause and a “show unlike any other” begins.
Starting out with “Visitors” set the stage of an out of this world experience that followed over a 90-minute span, encompassing every hit except Super Trouper – probably saved for the encore show in a few months.
I admit it is impossible to truly capture in words what we witnessed tonight except to say it is revolutionary and will change concerts forever. I see future versions of this technology reviving legends such as Freddie Mercury and Tina Turner or bands like the Bee Gee’s. One thing is for sure though, ABBA were the first and I got to witness it with a great group of friends and fans.
Background story is key here as I was not quite 16 yet when ABBA last performed live in 1982 and my parents would have never let me go to a concert at that age anyways. So for 40 years since then, I have carried a mix of regret, hope, and desire to one day see my favorite pop group perform live.
Well, tonight was the night and I can honestly report that it exceeded my wildest imagination. From the stage craft, to the set list, from the audience sing alongside to the four stars projected in 3-D, this turned out better than they could have ever been in the flesh in the 80s. If you love their music and find yourself in London, I urge you to get tickets and go.