IT is the unlikely reunion of a lifetime which millions had always hoped might happen.
Now, after 39 years apart, Abba — the biggest pop group of all time — have announced a run of shows which will be the closest fans get to seeing them on stage again.
Yesterday The Sun exclusively announced how they will premiere brand new music next week and will unveil a groundbreaking stage show called Abba Voyage.
The state-of-the-art concert will feature Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad performing as holograms of themselves in their heyday.
Now we can reveal it will be situated in a purpose-built 3,000-capacity venue in the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, where it will open next spring.
And an entire album of new music is being readied.
The venture has already run up a huge eight-figure cost but it is expected to make hundreds of millions and thrill audiences.
Abba are set to announce the full details of their reunion music and the show next Thursday, having teased the project on social media and billboards yesterday.
They have launched a new website with the message: “Abba Voyage — The Journey Is About To Begin.”
The 6,710-square-metre theatre will host eight shows a week, giving fans the chance to get up close and personal with the recreations of the superstars, which will be joined on stage by real performers.
All four members of the band have also agreed to come together for its launch, scheduled for next May.
They have already been heavily involved, secretly flying over to London last September to shoot content for the show at Ealing Studios in West London.
Body doubles in their twenties were also hired to film scenes which will be used during the show.
TURNED DOWN $1BILLION
Benny’s son Ludwig, who was a producer on the hit Abba-inspired movie comedy Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again in 2018, is helping to mastermind the production and a heavyweight team has been enlisted to pull the show together.
Svana Gisla, who has worked with Beyonce, Coldplay, Madonna and Oasis, will be a producer while the former head of Universal Music Sweden, Per Sundin, is leading the plans.
The entire theatre, which will allow for a “360-degree immersive experience”, has been built especially for the show, with a bar, food stalls and a shop on site. It will also have the band’s name in huge illuminated letters on the front of the building.
The innovative show is currently set to run until 2025, at which point it is hoped it will be transported internationally, with preliminary plans for it to move to Stockholm or Las Vegas.
Planning documents show that the building itself has been designed to be broken down so it can be transported elsewhere.
The whole process has been a labour of love for the band, who have long been reluctant to get back on stage together as a four-piece. In 2000 they turned down a $1billion offer to reunite for a global tour.
Frida later said: “No amount of money would change our minds.
“Maybe it would be good to do a song together again, just a recording and nothing else,”
Their upcoming show was first teased in 2016 when it was announced they were reuniting to work on a “digital entertainment experience” featuring “life-like” avatars, which they nicknamed Abbatars.
That same year they appeared together for the first time in 34 years at the launch of their Mamma Mia!- themed theatre restaurant in Sweden. Then in 2018 they announced they had recorded two new songs called I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down, which would feature in a BBC TV special.
But the release was postponed until the stage show was ready — and the concerts have been delayed due to difficulties with the technology which they also want to use for the video for their comeback single.
‘NEW MUSIC THIS YEAR’
In news which will excite fans even more, there is now believed to be an entire album’s worth of music, with the band recording at least eight songs together.
Bjorn said in May: “There will be new music this year. That is definite.”
The group were active from 1972 to 1983 and sold more than 385million records worldwide, with nine No1 albums and nine No1 singles in the UK alone. In June, their greatest hits compilation ABBA Gold became the first album ever to spend 1,000 consecutive weeks in the Top 100.
The 1992 record is also the second biggest-selling album in the UK, with 5.61million copies bought, behind only Queen’s Greatest Hits.
The two Mamma Mia! films, West End stage show, and the immersive dining experience Mamma Mia!: The Party at London’s O2 Arena have also helped to introduce their music to an entirely new audience.
And with their new shows, the band look set to cement their legacy.