ABBA Voyage: Reviews and reactions as ABBA bid a euphoric farewell on stage

27 May 2022, 13:44 | Updated: 27 May 2022, 13:57

ABBA's return to the stage brought fans to tears.
ABBA's return to the stage brought fans to tears. Picture: Twitter/ABBA Voyage/Johan Persson

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

It was nearly forty years since ABBA appeared on stage together.

That was until Thursday 26th May, when they appeared virtually during the debut of their incredible comeback show, ABBA Voyage.

All four original ABBA members - Agnetha Faltskog, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad - were in attendance to open the run of virtual shows.

Taking place at the purpose-built ABBA Arena in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, the revolutionary concert has been one of the most highly-anticipated shows in recent history.

Safe to say, it lived up to the hype and exceeded all expectations as the four-piece via their 'ABBA-tars' performed a disco-pop set full of the classics.

Fans and celebrities came out in their droves to see the virtual spectacular, and were gushing about seeing the iconic Swedes back together again.

Comedian and The Great British Bake Off host Matt Lucas didn't hold back his emotion, claiming that "#ABBAVoyage is the greatest show on earth."

Hundreds of fans who were lucky enough to attend also tweeted their praise, with one fan writing that he was "prepared to be cynical but the Abba Voyage show blew me away."

"Can’t work our bios they did it, but it felt like a real concert. Amazing, amazing stuff."

The show was so euphoric and nostalgic, that it brought pop star and fellow Swede Zara Larsson to tears:

"That was frickin' incredible. I cried four times. I didn't know I was going to feel like that" she admitted.

"It felt like I was experiencing them in their prime and it was very emotional."

Other celebrities there to witness the historic event included Kylie Minogue, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Jarvis Cocker, and Keira Knightley whose husband James Righton was performing in the backing band.

There was also an actual 'Dancing Queen' in the audience, with Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife Silvia in London to see the show.

ABBA Voyage concert photos.
ABBA Voyage concert photos. Picture: Johan Persson
ABBA Voyage concert photos.
ABBA Voyage concert photos. Picture: Johan Persson

Smooth Radio's very own Paul Phear was in attendance, and was similarly wowed by the spectacle. He wrote:

"There should be an announcement as you enter the new ABBA Arena in Stratford.. “ladies and gentlemen we will soon be landing in 1979 so please turn back your watches 43 years. Fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride”. Because however they’ve done it, and like a magician’s illusion it’s probably best not to know,  the greatest pop band are back and in their prime.

"Of course we know it’s not ‘them’ IRL (in real life) but they really do seem to exist IVRL (in virtual real life) occupying the space, interacting with each other and the audience. Technically it’s miraculous. Add to the mix a live ten-piece band, a mobile light show that fills the arena, huge HD concert style video screens, hundreds of high quality sound speakers around the auditorium and, well, my my how can you resist it?

"And I haven’t even mentioned the songs yet. 100 minutes of just about every hit you’d list as essential, some fan favourites and 'Don’t Let Me Down' and 'I Still Have Faith in You' from last years Voyage album. There are a couple of animated cartoon sequences that are, like in every live show, a bit of a lull (time to visit the bar) but very soon the avalanche of perfect pop sweeps everyone up and out of their seats.

"Cast any doubt aside, this is an absurdly enjoyable and emotional reunion with they way they were then and if you were lucky enough to be alive in 1979, yourself."

ABBA Voyage is currently scheduled to run until December 2022.
ABBA Voyage is currently scheduled to run until December 2022. Picture: Johan Persson

As expected, ABBA Voyage was a feast for both the eyes and ears, with the legendary group sticking to the classic anthems for the most part.

There were a few inclusions of newer tracks like 'Don’t Let Me Down' and 'I Still Have Faith in You' from their comeback album Voyage which was released in November 2021.

But ultimately, it was precisely the nostalgic, euphoric, and magical tonic that people expected.

Especially as the Benny, Bjorn, Frida, and the notoriously private Agnetha all appeared on stage after the encore for a final curtain call which got rapturous applause from those lucky enough to be there.

Though the quartet didn't actually say anything when they briefly appeared on stage, the incredible, immersive, and ground-breaking concert had already done all the talking for them.

The setlist:

- 'The Visitors'

- 'Hole In Your Sole'

- 'SOS'

- 'Knowing Me, Knowing You'

- 'Chiquitita'

- 'Fernando'

- 'Mamma Mia'

- 'Does Your Mother Know?'

- 'Eagle'

- 'Lay All Your Love On Me'

- 'Summer Night City'

- 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)'

- 'Voulez-Vous'

- 'When All Is Said And Done'

- 'Don't Shut Me Down'

- ' Still Have Faith In You'

- 'Waterloo'

- 'Dancing Queen'

- 'Thank You For The Music'

- 'The Winner Takes It All'