Fans priced out by £475 tickets to first night of Abba's London show
‘Why are ABBA Voyage tickets so expensive, they’re not even there!’: Fans left priced out by £475 tickets to first night of Swedish pop act’s reunion show that features a ‘bunch of holograms’ and NOT the stars themselves
- Abba Voyage is the hottest ticket in London – but some are being sold at four times the face value online
- Abbatars were created through months of motion-capture and performance of the four members in their 70s
- Band were in London for the launch also attended by Kylie, Kate Moss and the king and queen of Sweden
- Show has already sold staggering 380,000 tickets for the London residency, which is booking until May 2023
Abba superfans are descending on London from all over the UK and beyond today to see the 70s supergroup’s new show – but many have been ‘priced out’ with tickets for tonight’s gig going for almost £500 each online.
The virtual concert launched last night with a star-studded event attended by the Swedish pop superstars themselves, who played their final live gig 40 years ago, as well as Kylie Minogue, Kate Moss and the king and queen of Sweden.
And tonight there will be a carnival atmosphere inside the purpose-built 3,000-capacity arena in east London because it is the first gig open to all fans, not just celebrities and fan club members.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is in a frenzy today with people travelling to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this evening – with tickets on resale website Viagogo now reaching £475 if you want to stand on the dancefloor close to the stage.
Critics have blasted the ‘extortionate’ price of tickets just to watch a ‘bunch of bl**dy holograms’. One Scottish fan said: ‘You have no idea how much I would LOVE to go see Abba. But looking at the ticket prices, they are just wayyyyy out of my league. I would literally have to beg, steal, but doubt anyone would let me borrow lol. Just gutted the prices are so high’.
Five years in the making, the concert featured four 3D digital versions of the group’s younger selves singing and dancing to some 20 of their hits. The so-called Abbatars of Anni-Frid, 76, Björn, 77, Benny, 75, and Agnetha, 72, were created through months of motion-capture and performance.
The band, worth an estimated £800million, have already sold a staggering 380,000 tickets for the London residency, which is booking until May 2023, while the show is then expected to head on a worldwide tour that could make their combined net worth break £1billion.
The scene at the Abba Arena last night, where the band used ‘Abbatars’ of themselves, 5 years in the making, to perform 20 of their greatest hits
Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad in their ‘ABBAtar’ form that wowed fans last night
Return: The pop pioneers originally split up in 1982, but reformed earlier this year to record ninth studio album Voyage and unveil plans for an immersive digital stage show, which they opened together last night in London
Kylie Minogue and Kate Moss were among the stars who attended the press night in east London last night
If fans want to attend tonight, they can get tickets on the dancefloor for £475 each – around 4 times the face value
Some fans were united in their anger that the band are ‘not even there’ and ‘bl**dy’ holograms
Fans lucky enough to be able to afford tickets for tonight’s show tweeted about their excitement to be going
Computer enhanced avatars of Björn Ulvaeus, 77, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, 76, Benny Andersson, 75, and Agnetha Fältskog, 72, transported the audience back in time as they performed 20 of the band’s greatest hits.
ABBA need digital concerts to make £140million to cover costs after they splashed out on ‘ABBAtars’ created by George Lucas’ special effects firm
Technology: The 95-minute high-tech concert was created by the pop group dressing up in motion-capture suits to pre-record the performance
ABBA needs to recoup £140million to cover the costs of their immersive digital concerts, which saw George Lucas’ special effects firm log one billion computing hours to create the flashy ‘ABBAtars’.
The Swedish pop group returned to stage after 40 years with an avatar-led show in a purpose-built arena at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, for a preview performance on Thursday.
Avatars of the band members – or ABBAtars as they have become known as – appeared on stage in 1970s silver sequinned ensembles to perform the band’s number one hits in an eerily realistic 95-minute stage show.
Bandmates Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad only appeared in the flesh as they took to the stage for the final curtain call, with their digital counterparts leading the show.
And it has been revealed that the band needs to recoup a staggering £140million to cover the costs of the high-tech concert, which saw motion capture technology used to create the avatar singers.
The band have already sold a staggering 380,000 tickets for the London residency, which is booking until May 2023, while the show is then expected to head on a worldwide tour, according to The Times.
After investing huge sums in the flashy technology to create the show, the band have shunned corporate sponsorship, working exclusively with Swedish firm Oceanbird.
Speaking ahead of the show Ulvaeus claimed that when the group reunited to record their latest album and plan the show ‘the energy and joy were back again’.
In an interview printed in the show’s programme he said: ‘The final years with Abba back in the early 1980s before we took a break were not as much fun any more.
‘We didn’t laugh as much as we had. But now the energy and joy were back again, 40 years later.’
His former wife, Miss Fältskog agreed it had been ‘very joyful’ while Miss Lyngstad added: ‘I was a little nervous, in a positive way.
‘But when we were all standing there in the studio looking at one another we fell right back into a dynamic that time hadn’t changed.
‘Our habits were the same as they have been before including the joy of creativity. It’s very special and probably somewhat unusual to experience.’
Abba Voyage used motion capture to create holograms of the group as 1979 versions of themselves.
It was the year Ulvaeus and Miss Fältskog announced they were getting divorced as well as the release of the group’s chart topping sixth studio album, Voulez-Vous and Greatest Hits Vol. 2, which featured Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).
In the same year they kicked off their third and final tour before they disbanded in 1982.
On seeing her avatar for the first time, Miss Lyngstad said: ‘It’s hard to fully grasp that it isn’t really me and yet it is me.
‘I can certainly see myself in the digital figure. The gestures, the facial expressions, the eyes that express all sorts of feelings. It’s absurd but it’s real.’
Miss Fältskog added: ‘The results are outstanding and we’re once again fascinated by the technical wizardry.
‘I’m only a fourth of it but I’m humbled by it all and the fine people who have supported us all over the years.’
Last September the group announced the ‘weird and wonderful’ concert, admitting it was the ‘strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of’.
The Abba Arena at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which has capacity for 3,000 fans, was specially built for the event.
The show will run for four years enabling fans around the world to travel to enjoy the experience.
Of the decision to launch Abba Voyage in London Ulvaeus said: ‘London means so very much to us.
‘We had the good fortune to win the Eurovision Song Contest in England of all places.
‘I mean there could not have been a better place to win and it rubbed off on the entire world.
‘Don’t forget England was even more the hub of pop music than it is now.’
He added: ‘England has always been ABBA market number one.’
The quartet, who won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo in 1974, have sold 400 million singles and albums worldwide and enjoyed success with hits including The Winner Takes it All, Dancing Queen and Money, Money, Money.
In 2018 Ulvaeus shut down any hope of a reunion on stage, telling the Evening Standard: ‘A new album, possibly. Or four songs or something like that – that’s possible. But for us to perform on stage that’s just not going to happen. That’s a definite.’
Venue: The concerts are held at a purpose-built 3,000-capacity venue in the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London
Preparations: The holograms had been created following weeks and months of motion-capture and performance techniques, with the avatars depicting the pop group as they appeared in 1979
Welcome back: Fans queued outside to welcome the Super Trouper hitmakers as they were unsure what to expect ahead of the digital show
Music: Bandmembers Benny and Bjorn (pictured with Agnetha and Anni in 1976) insist the reunion is a one-off, with the band unlikely to record more music following the release of first latest album Voyage, after 39 years in November
Abba-cadabra! With a touch of magic, they’re back on stage… ADRIAN THRILLS watches classic band’s ‘live return’ on first night of London’s hottest new show
ABBA Voyage (The ABBA Arena, London)
For those lucky enough to witness last night’s opening show of Abba’s virtual London residency, there was only one conclusion: Mamma Mia! How can we resist you?
In the words of Dancing Queen, they were having the time of their lives at the Abba Arena in London’s Olympic Park… and were rewarded at the end of an emotional evening when Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad walked on stage in the flesh to take a curtain call.
Up to that point, the famous foursome hadn’t actually been on stage in person during a 95-minute run-through of their greatest hits and a few slightly deeper cuts.
Up to that point, the famous foursome hadn’t actually been on stage in person during a 95-minute run-through of their greatest hits and a few slightly deeper cuts
Quietly taking their seats seconds before the curtain rose, they had watched nervously, or maybe in admiration, from the wings. But if they weren’t centre stage, the spirit of their 1970s and 1980s heyday most certainly was.
Five years in the making and put together at an estimated cost of £15million, this was indeed ‘a concert like no other’ with the band represented by four virtual avatars – or ‘Abbatars’ – of their younger selves created using state-of-the-art digital technology.
In a purpose-built, 3,000-capacity venue, the show began amid cries of ‘unbelievable’ and ‘Oh my God!’ at just how realistic the avatars – beamed on stage as holographic images – actually were.
The dance moves, hand gestures and facial expressions were all remarkably lifelike.
After a short introductory speech from Benny, who compared himself to time-traveller Doctor Who, the band came close to raising the roof with classics such as SOS and Knowing Me, Knowing You, both played early in the set.
In a purpose-built, 3,000-capacity venue, the show began amid cries of ‘unbelievable’ and ‘Oh my God!’ at just how realistic the avatars – beamed on stage as holographic images – actually were
For Chiquitita, the four avatars were silhouetted against a slowly eclipsing sun. Mamma Mia, the song that launched a stage musical and two films, was served up as more of an interlude with larger than life projections of the band members shown on a gargantuan screen rather than on stage.
Much the same went for another number, Eagle, which again had only a filmed accompaniment.
The Abbatars were backed by a ten-piece live band of real-life musicians, including three backing vocalists situated to one side of the stage. Led by UK indie-pop star James Righton – the husband of Hollywood actress Keira Knightley – the backing musicians helped to thicken the classic Abba wall of sound while staying true to the catchiness and clout of the original songs.
They excelled themselves on an extended, rocking version of Does Your Mother Know. There were other highlights, including a thrilling dance medley featuring Lay All Your Love On Me and Summer Night City.
The staging was undoubtedly spectacular, but there are still innate shortcomings in any virtual show
FROM SUPER TROUPERS TO TIMELESS ‘ABBATARS’
To bring the Abba tour to life, experts used motion capture technology employed in big budget Hollywood movies like Star Wars.
All four band members were fitted with form-fitting body suits covered in sensors that helped record their every move. They were also given helmets equipped with cameras and microphones, special shoes and sensors placed all over their faces in order to create digital ‘avatars’.
Bjorn and Benny were even forced to shave off their beards to allow the sensors to properly analyse their facial movements. The stars then spent five weeks in front of 160 cameras. Each of the 20 songs from the concert were performed ‘to perfection’ – enabling every mannerism, facial expression and motion of the band to be tracked and recorded.
The 3D recordings were then given to almost 1,000 digital artists – based around the world – who used archive footage to roll back the years and give the illusion the band in their 1970s prime had been transported to the 2020s.
In total it took around one billion computing hours to create the impressive ‘Abbatars’.
That was followed, with the band dressed all in black, by a pulsating, discofied Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).
It wasn’t just about the classics from the 1970s and 1980s, either. ‘Who could ever believe we could go back into the studio after 40 years?’, asked the virtual Agnetha before singing the band’s two recent comeback singles – Don’t Shut Me Down and the brilliant ballad I Still Have Faith In You.
If there was a special moment, though – other than that final curtain call – it was the first few bars of Waterloo, in which the four avatars were silhouetted against vintage footage of Abba winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton in 1974.
Before the number, they wryly pointed out that the UK had given the song ‘nul points’. Despite a slight mid-set lull, the finale was spectacular – with the avatars back centre stage for Thank You For The Music, a euphoric Dancing Queen and the inevitable Winner Takes It All, with virtual Anni-Frid in a glitter jumpsuit and digital Agnetha in a flowing white dress.
The staging was undoubtedly spectacular, but there are still innate shortcomings in any virtual show. Earlier this week I saw Harry Styles deliver a masterclass in playing to the gallery.
Launching his new album with a gig at Brixton Academy, he was able to single out fans in the crowd who caught his eye, drape himself in flags thrown from the audience and even sing happy birthday to one female devotee.
A digital avatar will never be able to live in the moment that way, although Abba Voyage made an emotional connection in other ways. Most of us can measure our lives in Abba hits, and the sheer strength of the material alone should be enough to guarantee this show’s box office success.
Before the show I bumped into lifelong Abba fan Sharleen Spiteri, of the band Texas, and she was in no doubt as to why she was there: ‘I’m really keen to see the staging… but for me it’s all about the songs.’ And whether or not they are being performed by avatars, they are still magnificent.
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