ABBA: The Tour

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ABBA: The Tour
ABBA 1979TourPoster.jpg
Promotional poster for 1979 tour
Tour by ABBA
Associated album Voulez-Vous
Greatest Hits Vol. 2
Start date September 13, 1979 (1979-09-13)
End date March 27, 1980 (1980-03-27)
Legs 3
Shows 18 in North America
23 in Europe
11 in Asia
52 Total
ABBA concert chronology
European & Australian Tour
(1977)
ABBA: The Tour
(1979-80)

ABBA: The Tour,[1] later also labelled ABBA in Concert and ABBA: North American and European Tour 1979, was the third and final concert tour by the Swedish pop group, ABBA. Primarily visiting North America, Europe and Asia during 1979-1980, the tour supported the group's sixth studio album, Voulez-Vous. The tour opened in Edmonton, Canada on September 13, 1979, and closed in Tokyo, Japan on March 27, 1980, having performed 52 shows in 40 cities across 13 countries. As it was the group's final tour before unofficially disbanding in late 1982, it included the largest catalogue of hit songs performed on a tour.

Background[edit]

Since forming in 1972, the group had only performed about 24 concert dates over eight years. For many years, the group had refused to tour because they wanted to be the headliner and not the opening act.[2] Pressured to tour by their record company, the group had performed a brief tour in Europe and Australia in the summer of 1977. Upon the release of their sixth album, the group decided to tour North America for one month. Benny Andersson stated that the decision to tour was based on the need for the group to become more "present" to North American audiences. He further felt that the media would not consider ABBA to be a "real" group if they had not toured.[2]

In January 1979, ABBA performed alongside the Bee Gees, John Denver and Earth, Wind & Fire at the "A Gift of Song—Music for UNICEF Concert" at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, New York. The concert benefited the United Nations Children's Fund.[3] Shortly after, it was reveled that members, Björn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog had been separated for several months. Despite this, Agnetha assured the media that the group was united, stating, "Everyone feels very good at the moment. We are working well together and we still have something to give".[4]

The tour was officially announced by WEA in May 1979, beginning in Canada and the United States before venturing into Europe. While promoting the album, the quartet began rehearsals for the tour in June 1979 at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. Agnetha and Anni-Frid began taking private vocal lessons while Benny and Björn organized the tour. In the United States, the tour was heavily promoted by various media outlets including Billboard Magazine, where a 50 page mini-magazine about ABBA was included in its September 8, 1979 issue. The magazine provided a history of the group as well as outlining their success in over 40 countries worldwide. It also provided details of the upcoming tour, as well as personal interviews with each member of the quartet. During one of the interviews, Andersson and Ulvaeus remarked how important the tour was to the group, especially touring in new territory. They stated:

"To us, the U.S. is mainly a challenge. The whole tour to us is a great challenge. Tonight, the audience was great and everything went smoothly. But it was a very strange feeling when we have not toured in 2 1/2 years. You don't have the self confidence that most artists have that tour a lot and you don't know until you're up there, until you meet the audience face-to-face, whether it's going to work or not…"[5]

Nevertheless, the last scheduled ABBA concert in the United States in Washington, D.C. on October 4, was cancelled due to Fältskog's emotional distress suffered during the flight from New York to Boston, when the group's private plane was subjected to extreme weather conditions and was unable to land for an extended period.

Madonna performing during her 2006 Confessions Tour, wearing her version of the famous jumpsuit.

Rehearsals of the tour continued when ABBA made a surprise appearance at a nightclub in Stockholm as a sneak peek for the upcoming tour. Andersson felt this was much need as the group was not primarily known as a touring act. He said the quartet needed to build the self-confidence needed to perform onstage in front of large audiences.

The group returned to rehearsals in August 1979 after promotions in the United States and Mexico ended. While rehearsing at the Europafilm Studios in Sundbyberg, Andersson and Ulvaeus needed to produce a song to help promote the tour. Together, they wrote Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).

The staging for the tour was a standard endstage with a blue backdrop with several triangular structures, resembling icebergs. It was on this tour that Fältskog and Lyngstad wore the iconic blue, indigo and violet jumpsuits. The suits were later recreated by Madonna on her Confessions Tour as a tribute to the band.

As the group toured the United States, their film ABBA: The Movie was shown in the city after each concert.[6]

Despite critical acclaim,[7] the band would never tour again. Lyngstad stated that she felt secure onstage whereas Fältskog felt more comfortable in the recording studio.[8] The group disliked the conditions of traveling for the tour, with one plane trip that was very traumatic for Fältskog. Their reactions to touring would later be penned in the song Super Trouper. Many fans speculated the song was a long letter written to Ulvaeus' new lover—shown in the lines: "I was sick and tired of everything // When I called you last night from Glasgow // All I do is eat and sleep and sing // Wishing every show was the last show". However the song shifts viewpoint in the lines: "Facing 20,000 of your friends // How can anyone be so lonely // Part of a success that never ends // Still I'm thinking about you only".

Even though ABBA members continue their musical careers as solo artists, they have not regrouped as ABBA for a concert tour. The 1979 tour is considered to be a classic among ABBA fans; many contemporary artists and ABBA tribute bands have included elements of this tour in their shows.


Setlist[edit]

  1. "Gammal Fäbodpsalm" (Instrumental Introduction)
  2. "Voulez-Vous"
  3. "If It Wasn't for the Nights"
  4. "As Good as New"
  5. "Knowing Me, Knowing You"
  6. "Rock Me"
  7. "Not Bad at All"
  8. "Chiquitita"
  9. "Money, Money, Money"
  10. "I Have a Dream
  11. "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"
  12. "S.O.S."
  13. "Fernando"
  14. "The Name of the Game"
  15. "Eagle"
  16. "Thank You for the Music"
  17. "Why Did It Have to Be Me"
  18. "Intermezzo No. 1" (Instrumental Interlude)
  19. "I'm Still Alive"
  20. "Summer Night City"
  21. "Take a Chance on Me"
  22. "Does Your Mother Know"
  23. "Hole in Your Soul"
Encore
  1. "The Way Old Friends Do"
  2. "Dancing Queen"
  3. "Waterloo"

Additional notes[edit]

  • "One Man, One Woman" was performed at the Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • "Not Bad at All" was performed by Tomas Ledin and the backing singers
  • "I Have a Dream" was performed along with a local children's chorus in each city
  • "I'm Still Alive" was performed by Agnetha Fältskog with piano

Tour dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue
North America[2][8][9][10][11]
September 13, 1979 Edmonton Canada Northlands Coliseum
September 15, 1979 Vancouver Pacific Coliseum
September 17, 1979 Seattle United States Seattle Center Arena
September 18, 1979 Portland Portland Opera House
September 19, 1979 Concord Concord Pavilion
September 21, 1979 Anaheim ACC Arena
September 22, 1979 San Diego San Diego Sports Arena
September 23, 1979 Tempe ASU Activity Center
September 24, 1979 Las Vegas Theatre for the Performing Arts
September 26, 1979 Omaha Omaha Civic Auditorium
September 27, 1979 Saint Paul Saint Paul Civic Center
September 29, 1979 Milwaukee Milwaukee Auditorium
September 30, 1979 Chicago Auditorium Theatre
October 2, 1979 New York City Radio City Music Hall
October 3, 1979 Boston Boston Music Hall
October 4, 1979 Washington, D.C. Constitution Hall
October 6, 1979 Montreal Canada Montreal Forum
October 7, 1979 Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens
Europe[11]
October 19, 1979 Gothenburg Sweden Scandinavium
October 20, 1979 Stockholm Johanneshovs Isstadion
October 21, 1979 Copenhagen Denmark Falconer Salen
October 23, 1979 Paris France Pavillon de Paris
October 24, 1979 Rotterdam Netherlands Ahoy Rotterdam
October 25, 1979 Dortmund Germany Westfalenhallen
October 27, 1979 Munich Olympiahalle
October 28, 1979 Zurich Switzerland Hallenstadion
October 29, 1979 Vienna Austria Wiener Stadthalle
October 30, 1979 Böblingen Germany Sporthalle Böblingen
November 1, 1979 Bremen Stadthalle Bremen
November 2, 1979 Frankfurt Festhalle Frankfurt
November 3, 1979 Brussels Belgium Forest National
November 5, 1979 London England Wembley Arena
November 6, 1979
November 7, 1979
November 8, 1979
November 9, 1979
November 10, 1979
November 11, 1979 Stafford New Bingley Hall
November 12, 1979
November 13, 1979 Glasgow Scotland The Apollo
November 15, 1979 Dublin Ireland RDS Main Hall
Asia
March 12, 1980 Tokyo Japan Nippon Budokan
March 13, 1980
March 14, 1980 Kōriyama Sago Taiikukan
March 17, 1980 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
March 18, 1980
March 20, 1980 Fukuoka Fukuoka Kyuden Kinen Gymnasium
March 21, 1980 Osaka Festival Hall
March 22, 1980
March 24, 1980 Nagoya Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
March 26, 1980 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
March 27, 1980

Box office score data[edit]

Venue City Tickets Sold / Available Gross Revenue
Pacific Coliseum Vancouver 13,499 /13,499 (100%) $125,387[12]
Concord Pavilion Concord 8,096 / 8,096 (100%) $65,504[13]
Milwaukee Auditorium Milwaukee 6,120 / 6,120 (100%) $50,585[14]
Boston Music Hall Boston 4,200 / 4,200 (100%) $34,006[15]
Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto 16,400 / 16,400 (100%) $166,000[15]
TOTAL 48,315 / 48,315 (100%) $441,482

Critical response[edit]

  • Brian Brennan (Calgary Herald) was very impressed with ABBA's stage performance (given the fact that the group have not tour in North America) although he felt the concert was very tame compared to the group's popularity stating, "[...] marred by disappointingly poor sound quality, obviously fatal for any band that depends for impact on mastery of studio technology. During the first half, the performers lacked the supercharged vitality and provocative self-assurance normally associated with big-league artists. However, for cool professionalism, assembly-line precision and computer-perfect programming, the show function like a machine from start to finish." [16]

Broadcasts and recordings[edit]

The tour was showcased in the film, ABBA in Concert. The film captured ABBA's Wembley Arena November, 1979, concerts in London, England. ABBA in Concert originally aired on BBC and NBC television in 1980, then was released on VHS in 1980 and DVD in 2004.

In late 2013, Benny Andersson mentioned in an interview that a "new ABBA live at Wembley" album is on the way. Benny confirmed on February 6, 2014 on Radio Sweden: "Universal will release a live album, which is the last concert at Wembley, that we did. Whenever it was. 79?. As it was. Nothing fixed. Just sort of... we mixed it and it will come out later this year".

On June 9, 2014, ABBA's official Facebook and Instagram accounts confirmed that Polar Music will release ABBA LIVE AT WEMBLEY ARENA - a whole evening with ABBA. The 2 x CD and 3 x vinyl LP set will include Agnetha's performance of "I'm Still Alive" (which was only ever performed on this tour), which will be released commercially for the first time.

The next day on June 10th, the full track list was revealed:

CD:

Disc 1: 1. Gammal fäbodpsalm 2. Voulez-Vous 3. If It Wasn’t For The Nights 4. As Good As New 5. Knowing Me, Knowing You 6. Rock Me 7. Chiquitita 8. Money, Money, Money 9. I Have A Dream 10. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) 11. SOS 12. Fernando

Disc 2: 1. The Name Of The Game 2. Eagle 3. Thank You For The Music 4. Why Did It Have To Be Me 5. Intermezzo no. 1 6. I’m Still Alive 7. Summer Night City 8. Take A Chance On Me 9. Does Your Mother Know 10. Hole In Your Soul 11. The Way Old Friends Do 12. Dancing Queen 13. Waterloo

It will be released on September 29, September 26 in Australia and September 30 in the U.S. and Canada.

Postage Stamp[edit]

On October 1, 1983, as part of the World Music Day created by the International Music Council of UNESCO, the Swedish Posten AB released a set of five stamps commemorating music in Sweden.[17][18]

An image of ABBA, engraved by Czeslaw Slania from a photograph by Anders Hanser at the fourth concert of the tour (Portland Opera House), was immortalized on the Pop-music stamp in the Posten set.[17][18] Other stamps showcased Swedish Classic, Opera, Folk and Jazz performers.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rolling Stone". The Blade (Toledo, Ohio: Block Communications). 12 May 1979. p. P5. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "ABBA on month-long tour". Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan: Canwest Global Communications Corporation). The Canadian Post. 15 September 1979. p. 27. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Pop Music Fills U.N. For UNICEF Benefit". The Albany Herald (Albany, Georgia: Southern Community Newspapers, Inc.). United Press International. 10 January 1979. p. 9D. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Groves, Don (27 May 1979). "ABBA's getting ready for the great fight back". The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales: Fairfax Media Limited). Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "ABBA worthy of challenge of first North American tour". The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Canwest Global Communications Corporation). The Canadian Press. 15 September 1979. p. 15. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Grein, Paul (29 September 1979). "ABBA Tour Expansion". Billboard (Billboard Publication, Inc.) 91 (39): 3. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Abba concert a big hit". The Montreal Gazette (Montreal, Ontario: Canwest Global Communications Corporation). The Canadian Press. 15 September 1979. p. 86. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "North American & European Tour 1979". ABBA's Official Website. Polar Music International. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Rockwell, John (4 October 1979). "Abba, Swedish Quartet, in New York Debut". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). p. C17. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  10. ^ Hilburn, Robert (21 September 1979). "Abracadabra From ABBA". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California: Tribune Company). p. G1. 
  11. ^ a b "EMA Telestar proudly present: ABBA". Billboard (Billboard Publications, Inc) 91 (36): ABBA–33. 8 September 1979. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 16 January 1979. 
  12. ^ "Top Boxoffice". Billboard (Billboard Publications, Inc.) 91 (39): 45. 29 September 1979. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "Top Boxoffice". Billboard (Billboard Publications, Inc.) 91 (40): 46. 6 October 1979. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "Top Boxoffice". Billboard (Billboard Publications, Inc.) 91 (41): 48. 13 October 1979. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Top Boxoffice". Billboard (Billboard Publications, Inc.) 91 (42): 39. 20 October 1979. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  16. ^ Brennan, Brian (14 September 1979). "Abba's North American tour opens in impressive style". Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta: Canwest Global Communications Corporation). p. 15. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  17. ^ a b "Abba Plaza Collection Stamp". Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c "Engraved Stamp Beauties". 24 October 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013.