ABBA Tribute Band performance at Phoenix Marketcity, Velachery in Chennai
At ABBA Gold’s tribute concert, it rained music throughout the evening
Waterloo may have spelt defeat for the French Army but Swedish Band ABBA’s ‘Waterloo’ catapulted them into the limelight, winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest and launching them as a band whose notes linger around the world. And though it has been over forty years since the young, vibrant quartet met their Waterloo, their music continues to be played, adapted and listened to, spurring the formation of numerous tribute bands all over the world.
“The music of ABBA is timeless — catchy, pretty, pop songs that tell a story and can be sung along to,” says Karen Graham (Agnetha) of ABBA Gold, an International ABBA Tribute Band that performed at Phoenix Market City on Sunday. “Everyone knows at least one ABBA song. From toddlers to grandmothers, they all know the words and love singing along with us when we perform,” she says. Mark Stratton, the drummer who goes by the stage name Thor (“after the Norse God of Thunder, it has nothing to do with ABBA”) adds, “The songs are timeless and cross-generational. People of all ages enjoy it and have lots of fun — it is a testament to how good the songs are.”
And the reaction that the performance garnered was certainly a testament to ABBA’s popularity. Despite the rains that sent people scuttling for cover in the middle of the programme, no one left the venue, choosing instead to huddle under umbrellas or simply stand in the rain, dancing and singing along with the band.
Although ABBA Gold was formed 20 years ago, and they have performed over 2,200 shows to over 2 million audiences, this is their first performance in India. Talking about the genesis of the band, Karen says, “I started with singing in church and then I continued. After singing for a while, I decided to form a tribute band. I conducted auditions for 6-8 months for my ‘Benny, Anni-Frid and Bjorn’ and rehearsed for a year before we actually went out there,” she says adding, “I am a perfectionist and ensure that we practise till we get everything right — the dance routines, the vocals, even the costumes are as close to the real ABBA as possible. We even studied the Swedish accents to get the tone right. I knew I wanted to be the best ABBA tribute band and I think we are. We’ve been really lucky to have made it and be able to tour the world and sing these songs, but I also think we’ve earned the right to sing them,” she says.
Kellie Jayne Vallance (Anni-Frid), says that she doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t listening to ABBA’s songs, “I’ve been with the band for eight years and I’ve loved every moment of it,” she says, adding that though this is their first time in India, they hope to be back soon.
Ralph Anthony Raison (Benny) says, “It was a whirlwind tour — we did three back-to-back shows here — in Bombay, Bangalore and then Chennai. I haven’t seen as much of the country as I wanted to; we just saw a lot of airports,” he laughs. “But we are in talks and will probably come back early next year, hopefully for a longer time,” he adds.
“I really enjoyed performing in India,” says Tobias Scott Boyle (Bjorn), “It was an interesting experience; I didn’t realize how popular ABBA is here.”
While unanimously they may all love ABBA, their favourite ABBA songs differ. ‘Dancing Queen’ is Karen’s favourite, ‘Lay All Your Love on Me’, is Kellie’s and Mark’s, ‘Mamma Mia’ is Toby’s and Ralph swears by ‘Thank you for the Music’.
“Their music evolved with the band and tells the story of their lives. That is why it is so special,” smiles Karen.
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