ABBA still feels the love in Australia

31 05 2010

If ABBA ever were to reform, Australia would be top of the list on their comeback trail.

But don’t get your hopes up, because the chance of pop music’s most anticipated reunion happening is ‘‘absolute zero’’, singer Bjorn Ulvaeus says.

Instead the man behind disco floor fillers like Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen is inviting fans to soak in the nostalgia of Sweden’s most famous foursome at ABBAWORLD in Melbourne. The interactive exhibition arrives in June after a successful opening in London and Ulvaeus says there was never any doubt about the choice of its second location.

‘‘Australia was the first country that took ABBA to heart and we never forgot about that. We always felt a lot of love from audiences there,’’ Ulvaeus said from Stockholm.

‘‘The chances of ABBA reforming are absolute zero. That’s something all four members agree on completely, because people remember us as young, energetic and exuding ambition and that’s the way it should be.’’

While ABBA are warmly regarded as one of the greatest pop bands of all time, it wasn’t always that way.

Despite winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with Waterloo, the spandex wearing quartet were originally written off as one-hit wonders.

‘Britain and America didn’t take us seriously and it wasn’t until S.O.S became a huge hit in Australia that other countries took notice,’’ recalled Ulvaeus.

Australia’s love for ABBA blossomed on a string of follow up hits, including Mamma Mia and I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do.

The band were so blown away by the reaction of fans at their early live shows, they returned in 1977 to film ABBA: The Movie.

‘‘I remember arriving in Melbourne and fans had lined the streets and were waving and screaming. They waited outside our hotels so we were pretty much locked in.

‘‘We experienced a feeling of coming home and it was as if Australia felt ‘ABBA is ours’ and we loved that.

‘‘It was the obvious choice for the movie and if ABBA ever were to reform we’d be back, but the chances are zilch.’’

Ulvaeus and fellow founding members Anni-Frid ‘‘Frida’’ Lyngstad, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Faltskog have previously been offered $US1 billion ($A1.18 billion) to reform.The four have never officially split but instead opt to live off the royalties of their hit songs and albums, as well as pursuing other projects like the smash musical Mamma Mia!

They famously gave their blessing to tracks being used in two 1994 Australian films, Muriel’s Wedding and The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.

‘‘We usually say no to things like that but these two films were so touching that we agreed, and I’m happy today that we did,’’ said Ulvaeus.

ABBAWORLD looks set to be the latest chapter in Australia’s love affair with the legendary pop act.

‘‘It should be interesting to Australian audiences because much of it focuses on our humble beginnings,’’ explained Ulvaeus.

‘‘It’s very entertaining and fun and has a warm, playful tone.’’

And what of relations between his former band mates, are they warm?

‘‘We certainly speak and are the best of friends really. I don’t see the girls that much but me and Benny work together.

‘‘We were under the same ceiling for the first time in ages when Mamma Mia opened in Stockholm. The feelings came back very quickly and it was just like it used to be.’’

Sydney Morning herald

ABBAWORLD, the Official Interactive Exhibition approved and supported by ABBA, opens at Melbourne’s Federation Square on Saturday 19 June.

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