It’s 3pm on a Saturday in early November and hordes of ABBA super-fans are on their way to the Swedish pop group’s dedicated stadium in east London ready to relive their younger years.
With the streets of Stratford quickly turning into a sea of sparkly jackets, sequin headscarves, glittery dresses and pink feather boas, the level of anticipation and excitement is infectiously high; meanwhile, the Abba shop has every type of merchandise covered: from cushions to Christmas jumpers.
After being given our wristbands, a walk through a neon strip-lighted tunnel leads towards a dancefloor with spherical mirrors that hang from the ceiling.
Impressively, there are no obstructed-views once inside the 3,000-person capacity 25.5 metre high hexagonal stadium. However, a spot in the centre of the action is the perfect place to take in Voyage.
“Kindly put your phones and cameras away to help ABBA keep the mystery of Voyage alive,” is the instruction that comes from the speaker before the show begins.
It’s easy to see why the creators don’t want any secrets to be given away, because this show really does have to be seen to be believed. Far more than a traditional performance, it’s an experience.
Created in collaboration with legendary vfx company Industrial Light & Magic, following months of motion-capture and performance techniques with the four band members and an 850-strong team, a lot of work has gone into creating such a lifelike spectacle.
The technical side of things are equally jaw-dropping: as well as 291 speakers producing 870,000 watts of audio amplification, there are over 500 moving lights mapped to 30,000 points in the arena – concerts have never been so immersive.
Without revealing too much, what follows is a 95-minute journey through different decades and dimensions that sees ABBA re-imagined as 21st century pop stars.
Fittingly, Voyage is equal parts nostalgic, futuristic, emotional and euphoric: a joyous party that – with the additional oomph of a 10-piece live band – spans the four-piece’s singular legacy.
While real-life footage from the band’s iconic Eurovision performance plays on screen, the concert is far from a highlights reel, as Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad talk to the audience and thank them for their support at intervals throughout the show.
Somewhere between a live concert, club night (at one point the strobe lighting rivals London institution fabric), a piece of immersive theatre and IMAX cinema, the attention to detail is stunning throughout thanks to flawless choreography, costumes and lifelike digitalisation. The overall effect is that the lines between reality and fiction are blurred throughout the entire show.
While digital concerts like these seem more like the future, they also serve to immortalise the greatest names in music; it’s easy to imagine avatar-led concerts focusing on artists like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley or The Beatles achieving similar success.
The fact that average tickets cost more than a standard stadium gig is also telling – there’s a real appetite, and it’s not going away any time soon.
Now a year into its London residency (at seven nights per week, no less), the decision to extend Abba Voyage’s tenure until November 2024 is a no-brainer, and great news for ABBA fans who inexplicably haven’t yet experienced Voyage.
ABBA Voyage is now booking until 25th November 2024.
Book online here .