Since their first appearnce, back in 1974, there has been no doubt about the quality of songs produced by Swedish superstars, ABBA. The back catalogue includes many million selling hits and plenty of tunes that have become regarded as classics.
On the back of that success have come a number of tribute bands and, since 1999, one of those acts has been Abbamania. Fronted by Ewa Scott and Sharon Fehlberg, as Agnetha and Anni-Frid, and with Steven Galert and Adam Robertson as Benny and Bjorn, the band also features drummer Sam Christison and bass guitarist Lewis Cunningham.
The show is not an elaborate production, with fairly limited lighting and nothing really in the way of a set, with the focus very much more on the music rather than anything else. The advantage of this is that there is very little to distract from the superb songs that just keep coming, one after the other. The disadvantage is that, if the musical quality is a little lacking, there is nothing to hide behind.
ABBA’s hits relied on a very distinctive sound, thanks to superb musicianship and their four part vocal harmonies. As only three of Abbamania actually sing, the whole sound changes and, although pleasant enough to listen to, it’s not possible to be faithful to the original sound.
The concert, as a whole, is good enough but I think that the enthusiastic reaction from the, mainly female, audience in the Assembly Hall Theatre owes a lot more to the nearby pubs (and the handbags full of smuggled in bottles of wine and vodka) than it does to the quality of the performance on offer.
*** Three stars