Crown Theatre, 8 June
I'm a rock n' roll guy usually, but I have my guilty pleasures. I don't care who makes fun of me for it. My name is Karlifornia Infirri, I'm 32 years old, I sing in a Hard Rock band - and I love ABBA. I don't just love ABBA, I ADORE ABBA. I will scream it from the rooftops, I don't care. Whilst I may never get to see the original ABBA perform live, last night at The Crown Theatre I got the ABBAsolute closest thing to it.
Björn Again are the world's leading ABBA SHOW and were established in Melbourne in 1988. The band has now toured over 120 countries worldwide, performing concerts at Wembley, The Sydney Opera House and The Royal Albert Hall, plus festivals like Glastonbury, Reading and Roskilde. I rocked up to the Crown Theatre and noticed something wonderful going on. I was on the middle of the escalator heading toward the Theatre when I scanned around me. I was surrounded by women. You could tell they were all a little sauced from a few vinos prior to the show, which made the atmosphere absolutely electric. Ah, girls... They're so fun when they're on the plonk.
The band hit the stage to the hootin' and hollerin' from the SOLD OUT Crown Theatre. All with the outfits worn (and Björn Ulvaeus' Star Guitar) from the starmaking 1974 Eurovision contest performance that ABBA won. Can you guess what they opened with? ‘Waterloo’. Tremendous. The venue just lit up! It's incredible the effect ABBA's music has on people. The sweetness of the slower songs, the excitement of the faster songs, they incite so many different emotions throughout the proceedings because the audience are locked in so much - the audience are one with the music. Björn Again capture that magic with their performance, and the people they're performing for are in for a rollercoaster of emotions.
‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’ was another early highlight (ending in a segue into Madonna's 'Hung Up'), followed by ‘Super Trouper’, which is such a cute song. 'Honey Honey' is the sweetness I was talking about earlier. Sometimes I think the world forgets how many hits ABBA had. ‘SOS’ ended with a fun medley of ‘Message In A Bottle' by The Police; ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ – ‘Fernando’, ‘Voulez-Vouz’, ‘Ring Ring’ ... each song just pops the crowd each time. No matter what direction Björn Again went, the crowd were on the edge of their seat wondering what would be next.
I have to admit I kept laughing like an idiot the whole way through the night. I was so entertained. The dancing, the banter between the band members, they've been doing this for 30 years now and I bet it never gets old for them. You can tell they're having fun. When you see Björn Again having fun, you as a crowd member have fun. You feel like you're up there with them.
I have to admit when they went to the breakdown at the end of Chiquitita, the sheer joy of the music and the love in the room made my eyes well up with tears. Don't make fun of me. It was joy in it's purest form! The elation from the audience can not do anything else other than capture that spirit from you.
At one stage the ladies left the stage and the fellas started playing 'Living On A Prayer' by Bon Jovi - I kept laughing wondering what the hell was going on. But it seems they do this every show, a little special treat for the audience. Two more numbers this evening were real winners 'Rock Me' and one I was particularly chuffed to hear 'Does Your Mother Know'. Wild stuff.
Lay All Your Love On Me was another highlight, and you knew when we were getting to the business end of the proceedings. My favourite number of the evening was 'Money Money Money', Take A Chance, Mamma Mia - the crowd participation was excellent. Björn Again have mastered the art of getting the audience to join in on what they are doing, they keep them engaged 110% throughout the whole set! As I said before, the crowd are as much apart of the performance as the band.
The whole band were brilliant, engaging, and fun to watch. The girls were on fire with their moves! The show ended with you guessed it, 'Dancing Queen'. Love filled the room, the crowd sang their heart out and Björn Again left it all on the stage.