Not from Sveeden

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Last night, which kinda snuck up on me, saw me and a few thousand others bopping along to all those wonderful old Abba hits. Yes that’s right. Abba. Or, more accurately, the tribute band Björn Again were in town.

I’ve seen them once before, almost 15 years ago now, when they played a gig at the Barrowlands. Last night we were in the ‘Armadillo’ which, whilst very nice, is entirely seated and kinda gets in the way of the dancing. Not that that stopped us mind you, it didn’t take long for us to be up out of our seats and clapping along with the best of them… ohh and I should pause at this point to apologise to the ladies sitting next to us, I’m sorry we didn’t know all the actions to EVERY SINGLE DANCE, and I’m also sorry that I was stone cold sober and not that fussed about learning them, despite your repeated attempts to coerce.

Of course it’s the music that’s the focus, and what bloody great pop songs they are too, whether the better know disco classics, the slower less familiar ballads and the, frankly, rocking Does Your Mother Know. Not that I want to remove any credit from the band who are pretty slick, well rehearsed and play the parts well. A couple of nice touches included some neat segues from Gimme Gimme Gimme! into Hung Up (the Madonna track that recently used it as a sample), S.O.S into the “sending out an S.O.S.” part of Message In A Bottle by The Police, and “Benny” even lapsed into a rap during Take A Chance On Me (as covered by Erasure.. I think…). A crowd pleasing Rockin’ All Over The World allowed the ladies to change into an even skimpier set of outfits and this is a band that knows it’s audience and how to play to it. And yes, the bulk of the audience was a fair bit “wiser” than us.

Quick Straw Poll: Blonde or Brunette? On the night it was definitely the brunette by a long way (which was good because I always preferred Anni-Frid to Agnetha).

What I still struggle to understand is why Abba’s songs appeal so much. Granted a few remind me of yesteryear, but there is a certain melancholy running through some of the tracks that seems to be at odds with both the music and the image of the band. The closing track, Thank You For The Music, being a good example; starting in a minor key with the lines:

“I’m nothing special,
In fact, I’m a bit of a bore.
If I tell a joke,
you’ve probably heard it before…

A quick change to a major key and we’re in lovely pop land for the chorus. Clever indeed.

What really struck me was how many of the songs I knew… all of them in fact. I think this surprised Louise as some of the songs aren’t heard often and don’t feature on the ubiquitous Abba Gold (although I’d suggest you skip that and get the Definitive Collection instead). Ring Ring, Honey Honey and Super Trouper being the notable “non-Gold” tracks. I credit my knowledge of Abba to both an ex-girlfriend, who played them constantly in her car, and to my Gran who had a copy of an Abba album that was always my choice when I was allowed to put on some music (wish I could remember which one, I’m tempted to say a Greatest Hits compilation but not sure which one, that was probably back in the late 70s early 80s…).

And in a nice piece of timing, you can tune in to ITV tonight at 9pm and hear some of Abba’s greatest hits and learn how they influenced others including Bono and Lulu (hmmm not the greatest selling point…).

Abba are one of those bands that everyone knows at least one or two songs of, in fact, I bet if you took a little time you’d be surprised at how many you knew. Go on, how many Abba songs can you name off the top of your head. Bet it’s more than one.

What it does mean is that you spend the entire evening singing along and wake up the next morning with a decidely delicate throat. Worth it though.