ABBA VOYAGE | London, Pudding Mill Lane

ABBA’s motion-capture concert spectacular is euphoric. Blending pre-recorded elements with a live, ten-piece band, state-of-the-art projection, and pioneering, fully-immersive lighting effects, we honestly feel like ABBA are really there with us.

Essentially, it’s a 90-minute, 2-D, IMAX movie, where Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid (now all in their seventies) have been turned into animated computer game characters called ABBA-tars, designed to look fifty years younger, and animated to lip-sync with pre-recorded vocals. But the illusion is so real that the crowd of ABBA fans whoops and cheers just the same as they did the last time ABBA performed in London, in 1979.

In an astounding piece of design, the IMAX movie imitates and responds to the the real lighting effects of the purpose-built ABBA Arena. So when a real stage light illuminates or flashes, it appears to catch the sequins on the costumes of the ABBA-tars. Lights that appear to shine from behind the ABBA-tars are copied by real lights that shine in front of the ABBA-tars. Due to the amount of precision in every pixel of design, we literally cannot tell what is tangible and what is animated. This is why the production has decided not to go for any of the cliché “gimmicks” (e.g. a live stagehand passing one of the ABBA-tars a bottle of water): we don’t need to be reminded that it’s an illusion, because we all want it to be real.

Musically, the live band syncs up with the pre-recorded vocals in the most perfect way; we hear every conga-hit and guitar run in a sound mix so much more perfect than could ever be achieved if ABBA were touring (not that they can, at their age). The actual quality of the speaker system, while loud enough, is probably the only aspect that could be improved. Though the ABBA Arena is flatpack (thank you IKEA) and designed for transportation, they have the site in Pudding Mill Lane leased for five years. So we say, thank you for the music.

Book online for tickets available at all concerts until 28 May 2023.

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