ABBA in Concert (1980)

TV Special  -  Music
7.8
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Cast

Credited cast:
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Agnetha Fältskog ...
Herself
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...
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Tomas Ledin ...
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Birgitta Wollgård ...
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Liza Öhman ...
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Ola Brunkert ...
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Anders Eljas ...
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Rutger Gunnarsson ...
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Mats Ronander ...
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Åke Sundqvist ...
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Lars Wellander ...
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Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Phillip Page ...
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1980 (Sweden)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Quotes

[Frida and Agnetha are en route in the car; to the driver]
Frida: Is it far to go? It is? Good.
[Settles down in the seat and pretends to fall asleep. Agnetha starts laughing; soon Frida is too]
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Soundtracks

I Have a Dream
Performed by Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad,
and Björn Ulvaeus, and the Children's Choir of London
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Thank your lucky stars this exists
30 October 2013 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

In 1999, ABBA turned down an offer of $1 billion to do a reunion tour, with Benny quipping "We're the band that does not come back." With all their worldwide success, 8 albums, and songs that are being covered & re-covered by new artists 30 years later, it's hard to believe the cultural colossus known as ABBA only toured twice. There was the Australia tour captured in "ABBA the Movie" and the North American/European tour in this, "ABBA in Concert".

Only intended to be a 55-min TV special produced by a reluctant Swedish channel, "ABBA in Concert" may leave you wanting more songs, but what it delivers is powerful and authentic. Speaking as an amateur sound engineer and even amateurer film editor, I can say that that the production is remarkably tight & energetic, without any cheap filler like lengthy crowd scenes over the music, or re-using footage from different songs to fill in the gaps (which almost every other concert video of the 70s-80s did, due to the expense of having multiple cameras).

"ABBA in Concert" (the concert footage portion) was filmed over the course of 2 nights at Wembley, using 5 cameras each time. One stage camera was supposedly operated by a guy ON ROLLERSKATES. Too cool. The result is plenty of clear shots of each band member with both closeup intimate angles as well as powerful wide angles.

Although this was their first and only tour of the USA, unfortunately no USA shows were used. I can only guess, from the description in their liner notes, that ABBA was not as wildly received in some of the American venues which were smaller. Instead of concert footage we get 15-20 minutes of road footage which is interesting because we get to "travel" with the band. However it lacks the intensity of the road/hotel footage on the Australian "ABBA the Movie" which was at times frightening with the number of crazed fans. Suddenly & inexplicably we switch from USA road footage to the Wembley concert (without any establishing shots of London or the British fans).

But once the concert begins, it's like an unrelenting freight train picking up momentum until its spectacular end (the last 3 songs in particular had me rockin on the sofa, much to my dog's confusion). As you're watching you realize, despite their lack of touring experience, Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny & Frida were superstars in every sense. Professional, practiced, polished and totally pumped with energy, they put on a show every bit as dazzling as you'd hope. I've been going to concerts since the late 80s, and aside from a Van Halen show where David Lee Roth was climbing the rafters of the stadium while the bassist was log rolling down the stage, this has got to be one of the most energetic shows I can think of, and I'm kicking myself for missing it. But at least we have this DVD.

The setlist is, in this order,

1 Waterloo

2 Eagle

3 Take A Chance On Me

4 Voulez-Vous

5 Chiquitita

6 I Have A Dream

7 Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)

8 Knowing Me, Knowing You

9 Summer Night City

10 Dancing Queen

11 Does Your Mother Know

12 Hole In Your Soul

Bonus Tracks

13 The Way Old Friends Do (Previously Unreleased On DVD)

14 I Have A Dream (Unedited Live Version)

15 Thank You For The Music (Previously Unreleased Performance From The Tour, Never Broadcast)

16 Interview With Director Urban Lasson

17 Interview With Promoter And Tour Producer Thomas Johansson

18 Tour Souvenir Programme Picture Gallery

19 Mamma Mia! Trailer

This 2004 DVD release of the 1980 (ABBA in Concert) has good video quality, slightly grainy as with all concert vids of the times, and the audio is pretty good too. Apparently in 1980 it was one of the first stereo TV broadcasts because the Japanese TV stations demanded it, and 30 years later it still holds up. ABBA fans should definitely check this one out. If you're new to ABBA, I would start with the documentary "Super Troupers" or the Australian tour in "ABBA the Movie" because they present more of a story format. But for pure concert footage of ABBA, this can't be beat.


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