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Concert Photography: Helge Øverås

ABBA

«I like ABBA. I don't know if I should feel guilty about it. They made good pop records, you know!» (Bruce Springsteen)

Ticket from ABBA's concert in Oslo, Norway on 28.01.1977The Swedish disco-pop quartet ABBA, the most commercially successful pop group of the 1970s, remains one of the most popular bands of all-time worldwide - from Australia to Russia, ABBA reigns supreme. The marriage of Ulvaeus and Fältskog, followed later by that of Andersson and Lyngstad, had laid the romantic and musical foundations of the Abba concept. An early single, «People Need Love», reached number 17 in Sweden in June 1972. The Eurovision Song Contest served as a backdrop to their international ambitions and after Lyngstad's tentative entry in the qualifying Swedish heats as a soloist in 1971, the quartet, now known as Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid, attempted to represent their country with the infectious «Ring Ring» in 1973. They succeeded the following April as ABBA, with the more polished and bouncy «Waterloo», which not only won the contest, but topped the UK charts and, amazingly, for a Eurovision entry, infiltrated the US Top 10. The middling success of the re-released «Ring Ring» and singalong «I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do» provided little indication of the chart domination that was to follow. In September 1975, ABBA returned with the worldwide hit «SOS», a powerhouse pop production highlighted by immaculately executed counter-harmonies and an infectiously melodic arrangement.

These classic ingredients of the ABBA sound were ably evinced on their first trilogy of UK chart-toppers «Mamma Mia», «Fernando» and «Dancing Queen», which also found favour in Australia and Germany, and just about every other country in the world. The last also brought them their only US number 1 and precipitated their rise to pop superstardom with sales unmatched since the golden age of the Beatles. Firmly in control of their destinies, both on the artistic and commercial fronts, the band undertook a tour of Europe and Australia in 1977, most remarkable for its extravagant use of costume, sets and orchestration. Between 1977-1978 they celebrated a second trilogy of UK chart-toppers («Knowing Me, Knowing You», «The Name Of The Game» and «Take A Chance On Me»), whose haunting grace was enhanced by some of the finest promotional videos of the period. Although «ABBA: The Movie» proved less memorable, there was no doubting their commercial acumen. With international stardom assured, they began the 80s with two more UK number 1s, «The Winner Takes It All» and «Super Trouper», taking their UK chart-topping tally to an impressive nine in a little over six years. Although the dissolution of both marriages in the band threatened their unity, they maintained a high profile, not least on the international business circuit where they eclipsed the car manufacturers Volvo as Sweden's largest earners of foreign currency during 1982. With little left to achieve within their chosen genre, they elected to rest the band that same year.

Concert photography: © Helge Øverås. Must not be used without permission.

ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, 28.01.1977. Photo: Helge Øverås ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, 28.01.1977. Photo: Helge Øverås ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, 28.01.1977. Photo: Helge Øverås
ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, 28.01.1977. Photo: Helge Øverås ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, 28.01.1977. Photo: Helge Øverås ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, 28.01.1977. Photo: Helge Øverås
ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, 28.01.1977. Photo: Helge Øverås