I had a dream – but it didn’t have holograms in it: JAN MOIR fears the Abba reunion will be melancholic because virtual reality tech will be used to bring stars back to life in 1970s glory
For years, many of us have had a dream, a fantasy, to help us through reality. It was that one day the tectonic plates of pop would shift and the greatest group of all time would pull on their white platform boots and once more dazzle the world with their genius.
In our dream, Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid would put aside their differences, their divorces, their satin plus-fours and their regrettable devotion to appliqued cats and get back together as Abba, to thrill us all over again.
‘No, no, no, no,’ they said. ‘It will never, never, never, never happen.’
One of them even told me to my face. When I met Bjorn Ulvaeus in Stockholm for the opening of the Abba museum in 2013, he was at pains to point out, as he always does, that there was no truth in any rumours that the group would one day get back together.
Glory days: Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Bjorn Ulvaeus during the opening night of Abba’s first North American tour in Edmonton, Canada in 1979
As good as the real thing? Abba plan to use new technology and tour using holograms. Pictured is a man singing karaoke with an Abba hologram
‘I promise you, Abba will never reform – I couldn’t bear the stress of disappointing everyone,’ he said.
Well, so much for his promises.
They have recorded two new songs to be premiered on a tour using virtual reality technology to bring them back to life onstage in all their poptastic 1970s glory. That chimes with another reason Ulvaeus has always been so reluctant for the group to reform.
‘When you listen to our music, isn’t there something good in having the image of four young, energetic people? Better than four geriatrics, that is for sure,’ he told me.
Back together: The group appeared together after years of feuding at ‘Mamma Mia! The Party’ musical premier in Stockholm, Sweden in 2016
But clearly not as good as having those geriatrics ‘de-aged’ to look just as they did in 1979.
One of the songs, I Still Have Faith In You, will be performed by the digital Abba in a BBC special to be broadcast in December.
Confused? Me, too.
So the new songs are real, but the Abba we will see performing them are not?
As much as I love Abba, I can’t imagine that a concert featuring mere holograms of my heroes could compete with the real thing. No matter how technically ground-breaking and pioneering the techniques might be, would it be an entirely uplifting experience?
The history book on the shelf: Abba after winning the Swedish branch of the Eurovision Song Contest with their song Waterloo
Dancing Queen: Abba pictured together before performing their hit single on TV, the evening before a royal wedding in Sweden in 1976
Surely the whole point of a live show is being in the moment, sharing the same atmosphere and air as the act you have come to see?
And I confess I might find it rather melancholy. To see how they had not aged over the past four decades would only emphasise how much I have, too.
However, Abba are full of surprises. You never know what they are going to not do next. They did not appear in the global sensation stage show Mamma Mia!, nor the film version starring Meryl Streep, nor the sequel that has just been made.
Perhaps the truth is that they made music that will never die and they are so fabulous they don’t have to do actually do anything, they just have to be.
And if that means being a singing avatar rather than a singing star, then so be it.
Take a chance on me: The band pictured together in the 1980s after a flurry of hit singles
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