Abba the Show, after huge success around the world, is heading for the UK and a date at Brighton’s Dome on Thursday, November 17.
Featuring ABBA’s original saxophone player, Ulf Andersson and performed by Sweden’s Waterloo, the show charts the ABBA story from their Eurovision beginnings to their major international success.
It kicks off at the tail end of the 60s when Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha and Frida meet to play for the first time. The audience is then led on a musical through hits including Waterloo, SOS, Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Money Money Money and Knowing Me Knowing You.
Ulf had known Abba’s Bjorn and Benny for a long time and had appeared with Abba on TV, but he hadn’t actually started recording with them at the time of Abba’s great Brighton success in the Eurovision Song Competition.
“I really started recording with them the following year with I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”.
Yes, that’s Ulf on the saxophone solo.
“In the mid-70s, I was quite busy in the studio. I knew Bjorn and Benny before, and when they wanted a saxophone player, they asked me. They wanted to use saxophone for some recordings, and I was very happy to participate.
“From Waterloo winning in Brighton, things started to change very fast for them. They were about to conquer the world. We knew that they were good but nobody could have predicted just what was going to happen.”
Fortunately they coped with it well, Ulf recalls: “They were good people. There were no problems, but it was certainly a very special thing to be recording with them. They had everything in their minds. They didn’t write the music down on paper, but they knew exactly what they wanted you to do. It was all very much done in the studio.
“I think the first real tour we did was in 1977 and that was a really fantastic reaction, especially when we got out of Sweden – especially in Australia. It was great to be part of it.”
As for why the music is just as huge as it ever was and maybe even bigger, inevitably Ulf admits it’s just not something you can easily explain: “There must just be something special about it. There is a magic there. The two girls were great singers and it was very much pop music – though there was perhaps a little bit of Nordic melancholia about it which appealed to people.
“Also Bjorn and Benny were able to work more or less simultaneously. It means that the lyrics and the music have a very close relationship.”