arrival from sweden

orpheum theatre vancouver

It has been a great week for ABBA fans worldwide, with the Swedish megastars announcing that 35 years after they split have recently recorded two new songs. One of which will debut in December when the band kick off a ”virtual tour”, something that has been in the works for a couple of years. 

Arrival From Sweden
Photo Credit: Matthew Baird – VSO

Luckily fans in Vancouver did not have to wait that long to hear the classics from the group that have sold more than 500M records since they first rose to fame as a result of the Eurovision Song Contest win in 1974. On Wednesday evening the equally fabulous Arrival From Sweden brought their  interpretation of the music of ABBA when they performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum Theatre.

Arrival from Sweden have been bringing the music of ABBA to fans around the world since 1995, and in that time have performed in more than 70 countries. In many of these shows they are performing with symphony orchestras, as was the case earlier for this show.

Arrival From Sweden Photo Credit: Matthew Baird – VSO

After conductor William Rowson had taken his place, and with the audience mostly settled, a flurry of searchlights crisscrossed the auditorium, and the sound of helicopter blades filled the air, not your usual start to a show at the VSO J. The orchestra were then joined on stage by members of Arrival from Sweden, including guitarist Andreas Ullbrandt (Björn), and keyboardist Lars Egon Larsson (Benny), Victoria Norback (Anni-Frid) and Tove Lind (Agnetha), the opening bars of Arrival rang out and the show began.

Since Norback formed the group in 1995, she has always wanted it to stay as true to the original ABBA performances as possible. One of the key ABBA elements were their outrageous costumes, so it no surprise to see the singers in green and red satin tops with matching leggings and high black boots to start the show.

After a short introduction, the first song of the night was the 1976 hit That’s Me, next up the orchestra accompanied the band for the first time on Knowing Me, Knowing You. I think at this time most of the crowd also joined the band as well, on what became a giant sing along for everyone for most of the evening. Following this Norback and Lind alternated lead singing duties on the melodic Fernando, which featured a wonderful sax solo from Mathias Backstrom, and the melancholic S.O.S (my favourite ABBA track). After another impromptu ABBA history lesson and classic Money Money Money the two of them left the stage with back up singers. The rest of the band remainder to play the wonderfully quirky instrumental Intermezzo No.1 with the orchestra.

After the first costume change of the evening, into perhaps the most famous ABBA outfits, the white split miniskirts and cat print tops, the first part of the evening closed off with a medley of hits, followed by ABBA’s first international sensation, Waterloo, and Mamma Mia., which had everyone standing and dancing.

After the intermission, the show took on a faster pace for the most part. In tight black pantsuits, they swept through a number of the disco era hits, including Gimme Gimme Gimme, Voulez -Vous and Super Trouper. 

A couple of slower tracks, One Man, Own Woman and Chiquitita, allowed the audience to catch its collective breath, and then it was dancing and singing right through to the end, with Take a Chance on Me and Summer Night City closing out the main part of the show. 

The band were never going to get away without an encore, and it was a huge treat to hear the heartfelt Thank You for the Music as the first of two additional songs.  The evening closed out with everyone back on their feet for Dancing Queen.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable performance for any ABBA aficionado, the band had great chemistry on stage which really made it feel like you were watching the real deal.

I am sure it will not be long until Arrival From Sweden will be back Vancouver to wow the audience once again, and maybe next time they will be singing one of the new songs from ABBA.

Check out some image from the show courtesy of Matthew Baird of the VSO.