By Carys Svendsen
Now I know what you’re thinking: how could there possibly be a review for a tribute act for one of the most impactful bands in the 1970s and 1980s? Well, ‘Take a Chance on Me’ and be prepared for a review full of references as well as an account of the performance at the Grand Theatre on 7th September 2017.
As a child who was raised on a variety of musical artists including Bon Jovi, Enya, and Take That, ABBA was a staple throughout my childhood years. When I was 14 I saw Mamma Mia in the West End due to an obsession with the film and attempted to sing along to the film despite suffering from a throat infection at the time. When the Grand Theatre sent an email regarding the ABBA Forever performance, my inner 14 year old leapt into action and off I went.
When Thursday evening came, I wasn’t sure what to expect and when I entered the theatre itself, I was surprised by the lack of spandex and 80s costumes in the audience. That being said, the room was full of huge ABBA fans, as it was made abundantly clear during SOS due to dancing in the aisles. However, this SOS had less Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep on a Greek island and more spotlights, smoke machines and platform boots. Kudos to the whole act (including the bassist and drummer) for sticking it out in platform boots for the highly energised performance, and extra points to Bjorn who jumped both off the stage and back on again in platform boots high enough to be in an act in Cirque Du Soleil!
In addition, not only was the night full of dancing but the whole experience in itself felt like a trip back in time. The actors put their hearts and souls into becoming ABBA and as someone who has never been to a tribute act before, it was a unique experience to find the actors even speak in Swedish accents. That being said, I don’t quite remember a northern Bjorn… Maybe he was Bjorn this way?
As the curtain fell for the intermission, I started to think back on the performance and how I entered so cautiously and how, by the intermission, I was singing along to every single song. It became abundantly clear to myself how ABBA songs were a muscle memory to me, including the harmonies on ‘Eagle’. If you think that I walked home quietly, I can assure you, I did not. Due to a fairly accurate reproduction of sound throughout the performance, it was easy to singalong and feel the waves of nostalgia throughout the theatre. However, at times the mixing didn’t quite balance out the singers as Agnetha did have the odd occurrence where she would accidentally drown out Frida but the enthusiasm of both singers was contagious as well as Bjorn’s cheekiness and Benny’s shyness. A personal highlight of the night was when Bjorn took off his jacket to reveal his signature glittering white jumpsuit and, as the audience looked to Benny next with the almost sinister chant of ‘take it off, take it off…’, Benny meekly responded ‘I don’t have a jacket’, and the show experienced an awkward pause as Frida and Agnetha leapt back on stage again and the show continued.
Overall, the night was a fun experience full of sparkles, smoke and spotlights. There was a slight cruise ship entertainment vibe to the evening originally, almost an ABBA on a budget concept, which was never fully shrugged off and isn’t quite to my personal taste. However, if you want a night full of classic tunes and just want to say ‘Thank You For The Music’, then it is an ideal night to enjoy with your friends if you are all ABBA fans. This is why, ‘When All Is Said And Done’, I am giving it 3/5 stars.