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The Smooth Late Show with Martin Collins 10pm - 1am
27 August 2021, 16:12
It was the night in London that the Eurovision winners staked their claim as the greatest pop band the world had ever seen.
The Swedish four-piece made up of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad were returning to England's capital after a lengthy US tour that matched major rock bands of the time like The Rolling Stones and Queen.
Pop acts matching that level of touring commitment was rare, but it made for a perfectly executed run of shows for the expectant English crowd.
And their pop music perfection only exceeded those lofty levels of expectation, especially on the final night of 10th November 1979.
ABBA were more renowned for being masters in the studio, sculpting infectious pop songs you could play to anyone, anywhere and get them dancing.
During their marathon world tour (which concluded in Japan the following year), any doubters about their prowess in the live arena were emphatically proved wrong, instead seeing a pop act at the peak of their powers.
The 25-song set kicked off with a punchy rendition of 'Voulez Vous' seeing them squeeze their arsenal of classic tracks like 'Chiquitita', 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)', 'Fernando', and 'SOS' in shortly after.
And that was only the first half of the evening's performance.
It wasn't just titanic pop tracks they played either, finding time to perform lesser known tracks such as 'Eagle', 'Why Did It Have To Be Me?', and 'Thank You For The Music' which would later be released as a single in 1983.
Not that it would've made a difference to the elated crowd, given that they likely knew every word to every song anyway.
Major tours were few and far between given their love for being in the studio, family commitments, and Agnetha's well-noted fear of flying.
All of the reasons stated made their run of Wembley dates even sweeter.
Interaction between songs was kept to a minimum, with a focus on replicating the iconic sound the four-piece tirelessly perfected inside the studio, and to keep the crowd constantly smiling and singing.
After stomping renditions of 'Does Your Mother Know' and 'Hole In Your Soul', ABBA linked hands, congratulated the Wembley masses, and left the stage.
But of course as we all know there's the encore to come, and the Swedes treated everyone to the holy trinity of 'The Way Old Friends Do', 'Dancing Queen', and finally 'Waterloo', taking it back to the start with their breakthrough single.
The performance on 10th November 1979 was so iconic, they in fact released the entire show ABBA: Live At Wembley in September 2014.
Thankfully someone had the foresight of recording the epic final show of their Wembley residency so the world can know what a mighty band they were live.
Though, we should only be thanking ABBA for the music. The greatest pop band of all time.