Will ABBA Voyage be enough for the band to find their place in a world out with time?
When ABBA make their debut in the 21st century, they are entering into a very different world to the one that brought them success in the early 70s. As they return to the future it will be in an entirely different form – a new holographic reality. Described as “blurring the lines between the physical and the digital”, ABBA Voyage is a purpose built stadium in London that will showcase the band’s computerized avatars performing alongside a live 10-piece band.
These cybernetic depictions of ABBA will be familiar to anyone fortunate enough to have visited the band’s museum in Stockholm, where visitors can perform with them onstage in front of countless disappointed Swedish families trying to walk around the museum undisturbed. This shift into posthuman performance is one that I think will become all too familiar as the digital is increasingly pushed into the forefront while the physical falls further into the peripheries. But how does it affect our relationship with the world and the process of death and ageing? Are we expected to view everyone as ultimately eternal?
However, if we can find positives in this (literally and figuratively) surreal event, we can guarantee that we don’t have the fear of disappointment that we hadn’t seen the group perform in their heyday. The timelessness of it all unites us in the experience as ABBA have seemed to transcend all generations – from wedding receptions to Glasgow flat parties.
Alongside the announcement of ABBA Voyage was the anticipation for their upcoming album, as well as two new tracks I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down. The latter seems to be the standout of the two and is a clear display of their enduring and forever unique sound – something that I think came as a relief to many after fears their sound would have changed for the worse after their years away. The reflective lyrics of both songs feel mature yet still carry on the youthful flair that made their music accessible to so many. ABBA seem to have a song for every stage of life and it’s a comfort to know that they were always there.
It’s hard to imagine how we survived 40 years without new ABBA music as they make their return. Thankfully, Glasgow have always clung on to our mention in Super Trouper, and so faint chimes of the Swedish group were never far away even before their triumphant return.