Monday, 15 June 2009

Oor, October 1979: ABBA-Chöre

A review of ABBA’s concert in Holland at the Ahoy venue in Rotterdam, October 24, 1979. The headline is a reference to the German choir group Fischer Chöre.
On the mere mentioning of the name ABBA, many serious lovers of pop music will turn up their nose and rebelliously exclaim ‘ABBAH!’. For the time being however, ABBA is the most successful group of the seventies and up till this day they deliver quality-singles on a regular basis, in which the sound of disco is shining through ever more prominent. Despite ABBA’s musical mood swing, from pop to doll-like rock-disco, the group is still extremely popular, in Holland as well, something that was once again underlined by the fact that the 8.500 tickets for the concert at the Ahoy sports hall in Rotterdam were sold out within one hour.

In contrast with the concert at the Jaap Eden hall in Amsterdam two years ago, where a complete mini-musical was performed on stage, simplicity was the keyword of this concert. From a plain and simple pyramid stage design, primarily hits were fired at the mixed audience. Practically all of them were present. From ‘Chiquitita’ to ‘Dancing Queen’. From the brand-new ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)’ to the oldie ‘Waterloo’. ABBA’s jukebox was playing at full force and, along with a competent band of subjects, made for as much hit potential as quality with every selection, at which the not always clear sound didn’t differ much from the records.

There were four pieces that were not ready to eat in the, for the rest, exquisite hit puree. Just like two years ago, Benny Andersson thought it was necessary to freak out on the Yamaha in an exceptionally bombastic symphonic-rocker. Pretentious and unnecessary self interest that he’d better save for his solo career. The same went for the song ‘I’m Still Alive’, which was performed solo by composer Agnetha from behind the same Yamaha. A pompous ballad of the kind that Barry Manilow writes ten of in one evening, performed by an overly ambitious lady. The boys from the band got to perform the obligatory solo number as well. That was the hard rocker ‘Not Bad At All’, in which Tomas Ledin, a celebrated disco star (from Sweden...), played a too worked up leading part. The most remarkable grape in the ABBA-porridge was the performance of the instant sing-along ‘I Have A Dream’. A kind of alternative ‘Internationale’, in which ABBA was assisted by twenty-five singing little children from the Rotterdam music school. So that’s ABBA-Chöre. Or ABBA with the Rotterdam harbour singers. It almost seemed as if Queen Juliana had turned seventy again. No Jos Brink around, so that had to be a misunderstanding.

No, practically all, mostly pretentious sidesteps of the hit group ABBA were irrelevant and only emphasized that the group is in a dissolving state, whereupon only the complete dismantling can follow. ABBA used to be a cosy group. Now it’s the relentless sum of solo contributions. Indeed, the ladies and gentlemen of ABBA, dressed in silver-grey and metallic-blue play-suits, did give each other a hug every now and then during the performance, but everything suggested that it didn’t happen wholeheartedly, due to the risen tensions on a personal level. ‘Money Money Money’ and Stig Anderson are keeping the group together in the year 1979. With great anticipation I’m waiting for the things that are going to happen to ABBA in 1980. There will probably not be one tiny bit of a ‘united to the eighties’ feeling, or all members would have to remain as ironical as Björn Ulvaeus was, who, on announcing the song ‘As Good As New’, pointed out that this very appropriate track would be sung by his on sale ex-wife...


Bonnie Rrrr... said...

" A pompous ballad of the kind that Barry Manilow writes ten of in one evening, performed by an overly ambitious lady" Go, get 'm Agnetha!
How I used to hate Oor at that time for articles like this, but I think it's fun to read today.

Michel said...

Yes, these Oor articles seemed to admire ABBA for their durability, but ABBA was also looked upon as something not to be taken seriously by true music conaisseurs.