Mamma Mia! Take A Chance on ABBA Show!

January 19, 2011

1ARRIVALPRshot[Review by Alan C Smith]

The curtain rose on the 2011 Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts last night [Jan. 18]. And tribute band ARRIVAL from Sweden entertained an enthralled and very appreciative audience with the music of ABBA.

I remember when I was younger, and cooler, thinking of ABBA as a bit of a joke. It was decidedly uncool to like the campy music of the iconic Swedish group.

But even during that misguided portion of my life I secretly loved “Take a Chance On Me”, with its infectious melody and underpinning mantra. To this day that song comes unbidden into my head.

More recently I have come to really appreciate the pop genius of the band. Deceptively simple, many of the songs boast catchy melodies, unforgettable lyrical and musical hooks and pulsing beats.

Others possess dark or sad lyrics lifted by contrasting, energetic dance music. Add to that ethereal vocals and you have masterful pop.

The hit sensation “Mamma Mia”, as a stage┬ámusical and movie, by giving the songs context and inviting the audience to concentrate on the lyrics, deepened my admiration for the emotional rawness and complexity of many of the songs.

Founded in 1971, ABBA, has influenced Euro-disco and, by extension, modern dance music, currently making a resurgence. They have been referenced musically by acts such as fellow Swedish band Ace of Base, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga, MIA and many others.

ARRIVAL from Sweden, fronted by Victoria Norback and Jenny Gustafsson, did more than just embody the personality and stylings of ABBA. They also lent their own personal interpretation to some of the numbers.

With keyboardist Rolf Ivraeus and guitarist Staffan Birgersson they also provided the enrapt audience with bits of historical information about the legendary pop group. An added point of interest that raised the nostalgia factor for me was their inclusion of original ABBA bassist, Mike Watson, in the band.

With three female backing singers and a four piece band behind them, they effortlessly and flawlessly flowed through “Mamma Mia”, “Chiquitita”, “SOS”, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Money, Money, Money” and many more.

Highlights were the devastating and soaring “The Winner Takes It All”, my personal favorite and the final songs in the set before the encore, “Take a Chance on Me” and “Dancing Queen.” These last two had most of the audience on their feet and many dancing, enthusiastically and with abandon, in the aisles and in front of the stage.

ARRIVAL from Sweden with their obvious respect for the group ABBA and their songs, from , opened the festival with a magical performance. The audience was wildly appreciative. The ovation, when it was all over, was thunderous and lingering, with all standing, of course. — Alan C. Smith

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  1. Triangle Drifter says:

    It is always great to hear a good tribute band. I got dragged into Mamma Mia in Vegas last summer just to keep ‘she who must be obeyed’ happy. Really enjoyed it.

    A couple years ago in Muskegon, Michigan (we get to wierd places sometimes), we stumbled upon a Beatles tribute band. Fantastic. The music was true original arrangement.