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Reps for the band have confirmed any future live shows will be of a decidedly digital nature, with the Abbatar project allowing fans to "remember Abba as they were" in 79
By Jon Chapple on 27 Apr 2018
A spokesperson for Abba has said there are no plans for the Swedish superstars to go back on the road – in person, at least – following this morning’s surprise announcement of new music.
Digital likenesses of the four-piece, who originally split in 1982, are set to tour as hologram ‘Abbatars’ in 2019 or 2020. In a statement, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid ‘Frida’ Lyngstad – collectively one of the most successful acts in the history of popular music – said today “the decision to go ahead with the exciting Abba avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence. We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio.”
The two new songs – one of which is titled ‘I Still Have Faith in You’ – will be performed by Abba’s “digital selves” in an NBC/BBC television special, set to be broadcast in December.
The band last performed together in person in June 2016 at a one-off private event in Stockholm.
Speaking to IQ, Abba spokeswoman Görel Hanser says there “no touring plans whatsoever”, with the Abbatar tour providing an opportunity for fans to “remember Abba as they were”.
Another source close to the band echoes Hanser in saying, “it’s a shame, but they absolutely won’t tour again”.
“It’s a chance for peopel to remember Abba as they were”
The Abbatar project was revealed in Brussels earlier this month, with Ulvaeus promising the TV special will be a “global television moment” to rival the Eurovision Song Contest.
The project, a partnership with Universal Music Group and former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller, is being billed as “a groundbreaking venture that will utilise the very latest in digital and virtual-reality technology” that “enable a new generation of fans to see, hear and feel Abba in a way previously unimagined”.
The band will appear as they looked in 1979, as “we thought we looked good that year”, says Ulvaeus. He describes the effect as “simply mind-boggling […] You’ll hear the voices of Abba coming out of the mouths of the Abbatars.”
Abba have sold more than 400 million albums but – in contrast to many of their contemporaries – have resisted offers to reform. Aside from the private party in 2016, the band have not performed live since 1986.
Their final full concert tour was 1979–1980’s Abba: The Tour, which visited arenas in North America, Europe and Asia. According to Billboard, total gross from five typical shows in North America – Pacific Coliseum (13,499 tickets) in Vancouver, Concord Pavilion (8,096) in California, Milwaukee Auditorium (6,120), Boston Music Hall (4,200) and Maple Leaf Gardens (16,400) in Toronto – was US$441,482, from 48,315 total tickets sold.
For comparison, 2017’s top tour, U2’s Joshua Tree 2017, grossed an average of $8.32m – per show.
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