Herald Sun Melbourne ,Melbourne
WHETHER you are a fan or not, there is no denying ABBA’s songs are catchy. They pass the old grey whistle test (that is, if you play them to old blokes, they’ll be whistling the tune the next day). The tunes also trigger the get-up-and-dance impulse, and that is just what the crowd at ABBA MANIA did.
They swayed, bumped, clapped, waved and did the finger-pointing dance to Mamma Mia! ABBA fans are a seriously daggy crowd, but they certainly know how to have a good time – and they know all the lyrics. The Swedish supergroup generated myriad tribute bands and this British show has been running since 1999. Mark Thomas (Bjorn) plays guitar and Phil Hawkes (Benny) piano.
Though four singers alternate as Agnetha and Anni-Frid, I saw the sassy and richvoiced Katy Summer as Agnetha and Carly Broom playing a rather understated Anni-Frid. Backing singers Lydia Griffiths and Laura Chapple and 11 musicians – including eight string players – support them with a big orchestral sound based on Bjorn’s and Benny’s original arrangements. The crowd went wild over Waterloo, Mamma Mia!, Money Money Money, Super Trouper and the raunchy Gimme! Girnrne! Gimme! They leapt to their feet for Dancing Queen and SOS. They sighed and moaned at the first chords of romantic ballads such as I Do, I Do, IDo and Fernando. Then Summer knocked their socks off with a haunting solo in The Winner Takes it All.
The original ABBA harmonies are featured and the emotional lyrics still affect the audience. ABBA will never go away. If you loved them in the ’70s, you will love ABBA MANIA.
Review by Kate Herbert