ABBA Voyage: Band announce ‘revolutionary’ concert and brand new album

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·25-min read
ABBA Voyage: Band announce ‘revolutionary’ concert and brand new album
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ABBA have announced that they are releasing their first new music in 40 years, as well as the launch of a “revolutionary” concert next year.

Following the announcement this evening in London, the group – made up of Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, Agnetha Fälskog and Björn Ulvaeus also unveiled two new singles: “I Still Have Faith With You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down”.

Both songs will appear on their forthcoming, 10-track album, ‘Voyage’. The album, which will be the group’s first studio album since “The Visitors”, will be released this November.

ABBA also announced details of a state-of-the-art virtual tour in which all four members of the band will appear on stage digitally.

Find out how to get tickets to their concerts here.

Key points

  • ABBA prepare to make special announcement almost 40 years after split

  • ABBA announce new album and ‘revolutionary’ concert

  • What’s your favourite ABBA song? Fans pick favourites from Waterloo to Dancing Queen

  • The story of when ABBA won Eurovision

  • How to watch the ABBA livestream

16:56 , Roisin O'Connor

Hello, and welcome to The Independent’s liveblog for tonight’s ABBA surprise!

Fans are on tenterhooks as they pray for new music, a tour... basically they’ll take anything they can get at this rate.

The announcement is taking place in London – earlier today we saw original band members Bjorn and Benny arriving.

The bio for the Abba Voyage account reads: “Thank you for waiting, the journey is about to begin.”

The names of all four of Abba’s original members are also listed (Agnetha Fältskog, Ulvaeus, Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad).

Fans react on Twitter ahead of ABBA announcement

17:08 , Roisin O'Connor

Shall we take a look at what fans are saying on Twitter? They’re all VERY excited...

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What’s your favourite ABBA song?

17:17 , Roisin O'Connor

I’ve just asked the ultimate question on Twitter... what’s your favourite ABBA song?! Mine is “Gimme Gimme Gimme” but I can just as easily belt it out to “Mamma Mia”, “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo”...

When ABBA won Eurovision

17:27 , Roisin O'Connor

Remember when ABBA won Eurovision in 1974? Take a trip down memory lane with this fantastic feature by Mark Beaumont...

The winner takes it all: how Abba’s douze-points energy at Eurovision started a pop revolution

17:40 , Roisin O'Connor

Last year, it was claimed that the band would release five new songs in 2021 after a planned reunion was delayed by the pandemic.

A hologram tour was first announced back in 2016, though it remains unclear whether Abba Voyage is a new project altogether.

What will happen at the ABBA announcement?

17:41 , Roisin O'Connor

Well, that remains to be seen. Fans are speculating on everything from a new song to an entire new album, a one-off show to an entire tour.

The band have remained very secretive up until this point, but we only have four minutes left to find out!

ABBA livestreams announcement from Stratford in London

17:47 , Roisin O'Connor

So if you’re tuning into the livestream now you should be seeing a notice that the stream is “starting momentarily”. Looks like they’ve got a good crowd at the venue, too.

How to watch the ABBA livestream

17:48 , Roisin O'Connor

Here’s the stream if you need it!

17:52 , Roisin O'Connor

So fans and the press are gathered on the dock in Stratford and taking us on a trip down memory lane, plus a tour of their wonderful fan community all around the world... The event is being streamed worldwide because “when ABBA throws a party, everyone’s invited”.

ABBA celebrated by fans around the world

17:53 , Roisin O'Connor

It’s really wonderful to see clips of fans from around the world to get a grasp on just quite how influential and beloved this band are.

17:56 , Roisin O'Connor

Awww. Asked what ABBA mean to her, one Swedish fan said: “Gold... they put gold around my life.”

18:01 , Roisin O'Connor

Oh gosh, here we go. Crying already.

18:04 , Roisin O'Connor

There they are! It’s digital versions of the band themselves, quite eerily realistic.

18:04 , Roisin O'Connor

ABBA announce brand new album ‘Voyage’ and ‘revolutionary’ concert tour

18:07 , Roisin O'Connor

THEY’RE BACK. ABBA have announced a brand-new album, Voyage, and a “revolutionary” concert taking place from 27 May 2022 in a purpose-built arena in London.

Full story as ABBA announce brand new music for the first time in 40 years

18:10 , Roisin O'Connor

ABBA announce album Voyage and release first new music in 40 years

How to get tickets to the ABBA concerts

18:16 , Elizabeth Aubrey

One of the most exciting revelations from the ABBA Voyage announcement (and there were a few) was the news that the band will be taking part in a revolutionary concert residency in London, at a specially designed stadium in Stratford.

Find out more here:

How to get tickets to Abba’s Voyage concerts

More details of the digital live events emerge

18:23 , Elizabeth Aubrey

Speaking about the digital evnet right now on the live stream, Benny and Björn have said they’ll be 22 songs on the digital tour and that fans can expect a “greatest hits” set, plus the two new songs that have been released this evening, “I Still Have Faith With You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down“.

The group teamed up with Star WarsGeorge Lucas’ studio to develop digital representations of themselves using this first-of-a-kind, “revolutionary” technology. A preview of what the digital versions of ABBA look like can be seen in the accompanying video for “I Still Have Faith In You”.

The digital versions of ABBA were created following weeks and months of motion-capture and performance techniques with the four band members and an 850-strong team from Industrial Light & Magic, the company founded by Lucas, in what is the company’s first foray into music.

A new ABBA Christmas single is on the way!

18:26 , Elizabeth Aubrey

Just when things couldn’t get any more exciting, Benny and Björn revealed that a new ABBA Christmas song is on the way too.

When Zoe Ball asked them what to expect from the album, they said: “What can you say about a song? I mean you have to hear it. It’s a little mixture of everything. We have a little Christmas tune too.”

It’s called “Little Things”.

It’s okay to scream (some more) at this point.

Fans are reacting to the incredible news

18:33 , Elizabeth Aubrey

Fans all around the world have been reacting to the news - you can see some of their (very excited) reactions here:

ABBA fans react with joy to reunion and release of new music

ABBA issue statement about their return: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re back”

18:37 , Elizabeth Aubrey

The group have also released a statement about their return - you can read it here:“We simply call it “Voyage” and we’re truly sailing in uncharted waters. With the help of our younger selves, we travel into the future. It’s not easy to explain but then it hasn’t been done before.”

“It’s hard to say what’s been the most joyful thing for me (Benny) with this project. If it’s the involvement in creating the concert together with everyone or being back in the studio together again after 40 years. I think hearing Frida and Agnetha singing again is hard to beat. When you come to the arena you will have the four of us together with an absolutely glorious 10- piece band. And even if not in the flesh, we will be right there, thanks to the work of the creative team and ILM.”

“Those first sessions back in 2018 were such fun and when Benny called and asked if I’d (Anni-Frid) consider singing some more I jumped at it! And what songs!! My respect and love go out to these exceptionally talented, truly genius songwriters! Such joy it was to work with the group again. I am so happy with what we have made, and I dearly hope our fans feel the same.”

“When we got back together in the studio I (Agnetha) had no idea what to expect…But Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself! I can hardly believe that finally, the moment has come to share this with the world!”

“They’re such amazing singers those two, I (Björn) was completely floored by the way they delivered those songs. They’re true musicians; totally unimpressed by pop star glamour but still having a great time being creative in a recording studio. The “Voyage” project has injected new life into us in more ways than one.” “So, again, thanks for waiting! We hope to see you in the “ABBA Arena” and yes - see - because we have infused a good deal of our souls into those avatars. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re back.”

Is anyone else crying?

ABBA say the concert is what led them to record new music

18:44 , Elizabeth Aubrey

In a statement, the group said the concert was the springboard for them getting back into the studio. They added: “It’s been a while since we made music together. Almost 40 years, actually. We took a break in the spring of 1982 and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it. “They say it’s foolhardy to wait more than 40 years between albums, so we’ve recorded a follow-up to “The Visitors”. To tell the truth, the main inspiration to record again comes from our involvement in creating the strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of. “We’re going to be able to sit back in an audience and watch our digital selves perform our songs on a stage in a custom-built arena in London next spring. Weird and wonderful!”

Fans describe Don’t Shut Me Down as “the song of the year”

18:49 , Elizabeth Aubrey

The group are unveiling the second of their new singles now - ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ - and it’s well, a complete banger. Many fans are commenting on the “Dancing Queen” like vibes to the song - others are calling it “the song of the year”

You can see some of the reaction here:

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Hear the poignant new single ‘I Still Have Faith In You’ again

19:04 , Elizabeth Aubrey

In case you missed it, here is the first new single in 40 years - yes, 40 years - that ABBA unveiled this evening, the delicate and very poignant “I Still Have Faith In You”.

What an ABBA chorus!

19:09 , Elizabeth Aubrey

And the second single, “Don’t Shut Me Down” is here. One fan on social media said “it’s like every beloved ABBA chorus at once” - they’re not wrong.

Here it is again. Are you dancing around your living room yet?

The concert residency will see digital versions of ABBA hit the stage

19:37 , Elizabeth Aubrey

As well as sharing details of the album, ABBA unveiled what’s being described as a “revolutionary” concert experience.

It’s a state-of-the-art virtual concert series in which all four members of the band will appear on stage digitally. The group will appear with a live 10-piece band, in a purpose-built arena in London from 27th May 2022. It will run for four years.

The group teamed up with Star WarsGeorge Lucas’ studio to develop digital representations of themselves using this first-of-a-kind, technology.

The digital versions of ABBA were created following weeks and months of motion-capture and performance techniques with the four band members and an 850-strong team from Industrial Light & Magic, the company founded by Lucas, in what is the company’s first foray into music.

The group began work on the concert first, before finding themselves back in the studio in Stockholm recording new music soon after. The group together at Benny’s studio Riksmixningsverket in Stockholm.

The concert will open at the ABBA Arena, a state-of-the-art 3,000 capacity arena located at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Earlier in the evening, the group confirmed it would have their “greatest hits” plus the two new songs unveiled this evening. There will be 22 songs in total.

Here’s all the info on how to get tickets:

How to get tickets to ABBA’s Voyage concerts

And a preview of what the digital versions of ABBA look like can be seen below:

 (ABBA)
(ABBA)

First review of the two new tracks: “How splendid it is to have them back”

19:51 , Elizabeth Aubrey

The Independent’s 4 star review of the two new tracks is in. Roisin O’Conner said: “Perhaps their voices have that touch more gravitas, but that’s to be embraced. How splendid it is to have them back.”

You can read the full review here:

ABBA’s first new songs in 40 years are gold standard – review

Benny and Björn open up about the moment the album came about

20:08 , Elizabeth Aubrey

“First it was just two songs, then I said, ‘Maybe we should do a few others – what do you say girls?’,” said Benny Andersson during today’s press conference on how the album came about. “They said yeah, so I asked them, ‘Why don’t we just do a whole album?’”

Björn Ulvaeus continued: “The first song, “I Still Have In You”, I just knew that when Benny played the melody that it had to be about us. It’s about realising that it’s inconceivable to be where we are. No imagination could dream up that – to release a new album after 40 years and still be the best of friends, and still be enjoying each other’s company and have total loyalty. Who has experienced that? Nobody.”

You can re-watch the full press conference in full here:

Fans are reacting to news ABBA will have their very own concert venue

20:26 , Elizabeth Aubrey

For their concert residency, ABBA are getting their very own purpose built venue. I mean, they are ABBA after all.

A “digital” version of ABBA will perform alongside a 10-piece live band at a the purpose-built 3,000-capacity ABBA Arena at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at a run of shows from May 27, 2022. The shows are expected to last for four years.

Fans have been reacting to the news on social media. One fan said: “I can’t get over the fact that ABBA are building their own arena just to do the concert.” Another added: “They’re ABBA: they deserve this.”

You can see more reaction here:

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Fans say “ABBA have saved 2021"

20:38 , Elizabeth Aubrey

Fans around the world are still excitedly reacting to tonight’s extraordinary news. One fan on social media said: “ABBA have saved 2021” while another added: “this is the news we’ve been waiting for all year. Well, 40 years.”

They are of course, all entirely correct.

Here are some more of the reactions:

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Here’s everything about the new album and concert residency

20:57 , Elizabeth Aubrey

Just in case you were too busy earlier screaming at the news of ABBA reuniting, here is everything that went down at tonight’s announcement - the new singles, album and “revolutionary” concert residency.

Abba announce album Voyage and release first new music in 40 years

Here’s some of the people involved in bringing the digital concerts to the stage

21:05 , Elizabeth Aubrey

Those involved in brining the concert residency to the stage next year have been speaking about the news of ABBA’s reunion finally being announced today.

A statement said: “The ABBA Voyage concert is made with the help of: Producer Svana Gisla (David Bowie Blackstar/Lazarus, Beyoncé and Jay Z for HBO, Springsteen and I), Producer Ludvig Andersson (And Then We Danced, Yung Lean - “In My Head”, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), Director Baillie Walsh (Flashbacks of a Fool, Being James Bond, Springsteen and I), Co-Executive Producer Johan Renck (Spaceman, David Bowie Blackstar/Lazarus, Chernobyl) and Choreographer Wayne McGregor CBE (The Royal Ballet, Company Wayne McGregor, Paris Opera Ballet).

Svana Gisla, Producer, and Ludvig Andersson, producer said: “The magic of ABBA and the herculean efforts of this whole magnificent team reaches a long awaited milestone today. To be able to finally share this endeavour with the world is a proud moment for us and we can’t wait to welcome you to our arena in East London, a place where we are so happy to be.”

Baillie Walsh, director added:“I watched ABBA win the Eurovision song contest in 1974, and never did I imagine that 47 years later I would be with them on this extraordinary voyage. Life is weird and wonderful sometimes.”

Wayne McGregor, choreographer said: “Imagine: growing up in the North of England in the 70’s and learning to ballroom, Latin and disco dance to the incredible songs of ABBA. I was 8 and I was totally transported. Fast forward to 2020, being in Sweden and dancing with ABBA - in real life! I was about to be 50 and I was totally transported again. That is the magic of ABBA. We have shared many creative and joyful adventures with a bold collaborative team to make the impossible possible for ABBA Voyage: technological wizardry, state of the art immersion and entertainment innovation. And still at its searing heart we simply have new songs, new moves, classic songs, classic moves: ABBA is DANCE and always will be. See you on the dancefloor”.

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group added: “From the very beginning of my career, and having had the privilege to work with them directly for many years since, it’s been a tremendous joy to be surrounded by ABBA and their music. Their boundless creativity and timeless melodies makes us want to partner with them on everything they do because we know it will be simply great.”

How to get tickets for the residency

21:10 , Elizabeth Aubrey

And here’s all the info on how to get those tickets once again:

How to get tickets to ABBA’s Voyage concerts

Björn speaks: “Everything came rushing back, like it was yesterday"

21:20 , Elizabeth Aubrey

ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus has been speaking to Zane Lowe about the reunion.

On being asked what led to them getting back together, Ulvaeus said: “We knew that we had these bonds, obviously. We’d see each other every now and then, but it was especially clear when we were in the studio for the first time for this album, together, because that was so strange and wonderful at the same time. Everything came rushing back, like it was yesterday. “This was a very familiar, normal situation we were in, the four of us. “Yeah. Okay. We’re recording,” like it was yesterday. I looked around and I looked into Agnetha’s eyes and Frida’s eyes and there was the same kind of feeling, the warmth and the friendship and the bonds, between us that, as you suddenly realise no one on earth has experienced this kind of relationship that we have because, thinking about it, it’s true, nobody else has. Sadly, people die and they don’t stay on friendly terms for their whole lives, but we have. And I’m so incredibly happy for that.”

He also opened up about the new songs – and the fact that new album “Voyage” is a direct follow up to their last, 1981 album, “The Visitors”.

Ulvaeus said: “Benny and I wrote and we recorded the songs as best we could and it just happened to be a lot of people out there who liked it. And we’re doing the same thing now. We’re holding our noses and diving. Anything can happen. We don’t know how this will be received, we just know that we’re as proud of this as we were back in the ‘70s. This is the followup of “The Visitors”. It’s 40 years apart, but it’s still very much the latest album, if you know what I mean. I don’t see it as a standalone thing. We take all that wonderful baggage that we have with us into this production, as well.

On new single, “I Still Have Faith In You”, Ulvaeus said: “When Benny sent me a demo of that melody, I knew it had to be about us, but at the same time, lots of people in lots of situations will find that, yeah, this is about them, too, because I love to have hidden layers in the lyrics. And “I Still Have Faith In You” can be read in many different ways. “I mean, you get what’s face value and that’s about us, but the others, you’ll have to think, yourself. We didn’t know what to expect when we went into the studio. We knew that, “Oh, it might just be that we don’t have it anymore,” and then realising that we have something to give and something to say. That was an incredible feeling. In both songs, as you say, there is a lot of that, the happiness and joy of being able to come back like this and being proud of it.”

You can listen to the full interview here:

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Björn also says he was prepared for Frida and Agnetha to say no to a reunion

21:29 , Elizabeth Aubrey

ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus told Zane Lowe earlier this evening that he was prepared for Frida and Agnetha to say no to a reunion.

He explained: “We were prepared for them saying no. Yes. It would’ve been understandable, but no, they didn’t, because they’re both...They like the creative side of things. Pop star glamour, we’re all totally unimpressed by that, but to be creative in the studio, that’s something else, just to be us, just to try things and see what it sounds like. That is something that none of them ever has been negative towards, I think. It’s just that, somehow, it never happened. It’s strange it took this long, but now it did, all of a sudden. Some key turned and...yeah. No, I can’t think of any moment that we seriously or one of us seriously wanted to do something and the others said no. All these 40 years, we’ve been quite unanimous in not wanting to do something.”

“We ended, and for creative reasons. We ended because we felt the energy was running out in the studio, because we didn’t have as much fun in the studio as we did this time. And that’s why we said, “Let’s go on a break.” And we never said, “This is it. We’ve split and we’ll never reunite again.” We never said that. We just said back then that we’d go on a break. And this break has now ended. Sounds strange…”

Thank goodness they said yes. Phew.

Listen to the full interview here:

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Fans are loving the ABBA avatars

21:56 , Elizabeth Aubrey

Fans have been reacting all evening to the new ABBA avatars. Some think they look like they’re from Tron: The Legacy, others are comparing them to the Power Rangers. Either way, nobody really cares because they’re just thrilled ABBA are back and here to save us all. Heroes.

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22:03 , Elizabeth Aubrey

The Independent’s first review of the two new ABBA tracks are in.

Reviewing “I Still Have Faith In You’’, Roisin O’Connor said: “Over beautifully tender piano notes we hear Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad come together in dignified harmony. “How inconceivable it is to reach this far,” they sing. “Do I have it in me?” Military drums strike up in the distance, a power guitar line plays, and cue the chorus. It is simply joyous.”

And on “Don’t Shut Me Down”, Roisin added: “Opening on the ripple of a harp and swooning strings. Oh, and that piano roll! Into a boogie rhythm that shivers deliciously against a low-thrumming bassline and starry synths...How splendid it is to have them back.”

Read the full review here:

ABBA’s first new songs in 40 years are gold standard – review

22:14 , Elizabeth Aubrey

Well, what an extraordinary evening. One of the greatest musical comebacks in history took place earlier today when ABBA announced their return after almost 40 years away.

And what a return: two wonderful new singles, an album announcement and a “revolutionary” new concert which will see digital avatars of ABBA take to the stage –using technology created in George Lucas’ studio no less. Oh, and they’re even getting their own concert venue for the occasion (they’re ABBA after all).

In a statement the group said: It’s been a while since we made music together. Almost 40 years, actually. We took a break in the spring of 1982 and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it. They say it’s foolhardy to wait more than 40 years between albums, so we’ve recorded a follow-up to “The Visitors”. To tell the truth, the main inspiration to record again comes from our involvement in creating the strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of. We’re going to be able to sit back in an audience and watch our digital selves perform our songs on a stage in a custom-built arena in London next spring. Weird and wonderful!

“To all of you who patiently have followed us in some way or another these past decades: It’s been an emotional evening for fans young and old - but one thing’s for certain, everyone is thrilled at the joyous news this evening.”

“So, again, thanks for waiting! We hope to see you in the “ABBA Arena” and yes – see – because we have infused a good deal of our souls into those avatars. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re back.”

Here’s a round up of the full announcement earlier, details on how to get tickets for their London residency and a recap of all the fan reaction.

Abba announce album Voyage and release first new music in 40 years

How to get tickets to ABBA’s Voyage concerts

ABBA fans react with joy to reunion and release of new music

Thanks for joining me - I’m off to listen to the songs all over again. Bye!

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