Sunday, 15 November 2009

Joepie, 1979: Final ABBA-concert under the spell of the mafia – Dublin made for a wonderful finale

A report from Belgian magazine Joepie about ABBA’s final concert on their 1979 tour, taking place exactly thirty years ago today in Dublin, Ireland.
The Irish city Dublin was turned upside down on November 15. ABBA performed their final concert of a world tour that gave the group the greatest triumphs in North America and Europe during two months. Obviously, Joepie was present to wish ABBA a well-deserved hibernation.

Two days before that, ABBA performed in the Scottish city Glasgow. Lonely Agnetha arrived in Dublin one day earlier than the others. On the day of the concert, Frida, Björn and Benny arrived in a helicopter. One could feel the tension and the rising fever in the city.
A taxi driver told us that the city – he called Dublin a ‘jungle’ – was breathing the same atmosphere as at the arrival of... the Pope! The Irish radio stations played one ABBA-hit after the other and shouting groups of youngsters were walking the streets, dressed in ABBA-shirts and shawls. In the afternoon, several thousands of fans assembled in the busy O’Connell Street. In front of the hotel where ABBA had taken residence. The busy city traffic came to a standstill immediately. Through radio announcements, car drivers were given the advice to avoid the area of the O’Connell Street as much as possible. The thousands of fans just wanted to catch a glimpse of their idols, because only 4000 Irishmen had been able to get an entrance ticket for the concert. When the tickets went on sale three months ago, they were sold within two hours. One could still get entrance tickets on the street which were sold by the mafia on the black market at prices up to 80 pounds (320 Dutch guilders). At the time, the mafia had been able to get their hands on 700 entrance tickets.
The Irish children’s choir that was allowed to sing ‘I Have A Dream’ on stage with ABBA, was the acclaimed Rising Stars Choir. A few weeks earlier, they had been invited to sing for the Pope on his high profile visit to Ireland. But the girls and boys honestly admitted that they had more fun singing for ABBA.

However, the night belonged to Frida. She celebrated her birthday on November 15 and turned 34 during the final concert. The children’s choir presented her with a birthday cake and the members of the band surprised her with flowers and kisses. Agnetha, who would later perform a snappy ‘Gimme, Gimme’, had a few compliments for Frida as well.

The concert was also attended by a lot of foreign journalists. Some of them hoped to get a sensational scoop about ABBA’s future. The rumour that this might well have been the very last concert of the group was obviously an immediate cause. In the ecstatic, enthusiastic hall, everyone turned quiet as a mouse when Benny acted as a spokesman through the microphone and said, clearly moved: “This is our last... (long pause)... performance... of this tour...”
On the other hand, it turned out that Björn had remembered the remark of our chief editor Guido van Liefferinge about the introduction of his ex-wife Agnetha to the audience. Björn now introduced Agnetha as ‘a good friend of mine’.
In the good, overseas tradition, the barriers in front of the stage were trampled by the ecstatic teenagers at the end of the concert.
Thank You For The Music, ABBA, and see you in March for the scheduled tour of Japan.

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