The team behind the creation of the new ABBA Voyage live experience have spoken to NME about how it was made, as well as what could be next for both the show and the band. Watch our video interview above.
Premiering earlier this week at the purpose-built ABBA Arena in Stratford, East London, to a delighted response from fans, the ambitious production sees a “digital” version of ABBA (or ‘ABBAtars’) performing alongside a 10-piece live band (put together with the help of Klaxons’ James Righton).
Working on the show with ABBA were Svana Gisla (who produced Jay-Z and Beyoncé‘s On the Run Tour), choreographer Wayne McGregor, Johan Renck (who directed David Bowie‘s videos for ‘Blackstar’ and ‘Lazarus’), Baillie Walsh (who has directed for Massive Attack and Bruce Springsteen) and producer Ludvig Andersson (son of ABBA’s Benny Andersson and producer of And Then We Danced, Yung Lean‘s ‘In My Head’ and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again).
“We did an awful lot of research and development on this, as you can imagine,” Gisla told NME from the red carpet. “We did two years of trying to figure out what this is. We put a lot of time into the philosophical side of it. This is not just about technology, this is about emotion. We wanted to understand the core of ABBA and the music and how to deliver it in 2022.
“A lot of this is about restraint. When all of the technology and everything is available to you, it becomes an exercise in restraint. The music is the guiding light.”
Gisla said that t. was “nothing nostalgic about this concert apart from the music”, and that the whole approach was very forward-thinking.
“ABBA look like they did in 1979, but they’re firmly rooted in the now and in the future. Everything else is as forward as it can be,” she said. “You’re going to see a lot of things that you’ve never seen before. The feeling of being inside the arena will be unique, it’s very immersive. People use that word a lot, but when you go in t. you’ll fully realise the capabilities of an immersive environment. It’s like being in the eye of the storm.”
Asked about how long the show could be set to run for, Gisla replied: “I don’t want to jinx it, but if this is a success then we can be . for a few years. We’re on borrowed land, we didn’t break any ground, the arena is moveable and we can pack up and leave when we aren’t wanted anymore.
“I hope the audience wants us to stay for a bit, because we feel like we’ve made something really special.
Director Baillie Walsh, meanwhile, said it was surreal that the “dream” from inside his head finally now on the stage for people to see. Walsh sternly denied that what fans would be seeing was “a hologram”, and in fact something quite different.
“We filmed ABBA for five weeks,” he said. “Wayne McGregor extended their moves into younger bodies – our doubles –…
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