Photo collage

ABBA Weekend, May 2018, in Stockholm

Here is a report by Jacco Hornes from the Netherlands.

Fans gather

Several ABBA fans arrived for the weekend early and took the opportunity to visit Benny’s production studio Mono Music. Benny was very kind and gave us fans the perfect start to a lovely, long and sunny weekend in Stockholm, a real Summer Night City.

Friday, May 4th

On Friday evening, we all gathered for the opening party at ABBA The Museum, where we were welcomed by Helga and Anita with our tickets for all the events. The party was in the glass house pavilion of the museum, where friends greeted each other, and there was great food. After that, we had a quiz with 30 interesting questions (thanks to Gary Collins). Congratulations to David Kinsella from Ireland who won with a score of 28 points. He took home ABBA The Album signed by all four ABBA members as his prize.

Saturday, May 5th

On Saturday morning, Helga van de Kar and Caroline Fagerlind, the director of ABBA The Museum, welcomed us. This was followed by a great performance by The Choir of ABBA The Museum that performed Rock Me, When I Kissed the Teacher, Dancing Queen and a new a capella arrangement of The Winner Takes It All among others.
After this, curator Ingmarie Halling talked about the development of the museum’s expansion, which came about because more and more people had asked her over the years about the story ‘after’ ABBA. She said that the members were closely involved in this and wanted to see and read everything. After the introduction, we fans were given the scoop to preview the new exhibition. All their activities such as Chess, BAO, Mamma Mia! (the musical) and the solo careers of Agnetha and Frida can be seen there. There is also a new interview with Frida; it is wonderful.
There was also another quiz where you could win tickets for the premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again in Stockholm and several other prizes. The lucky winner was Nigel Adams from the United Kingdom. Congratulations, Nigel.
Then fans were treated to an interesting interview with Görel Hanser and Mia Segolsson (Universal Music Sweden), where the fans could ask their questions. Görel said she was so happy with the loyalty of the fans and that she noticed many familiar faces around. She was very happy to say that, in the middle of recording the new ABBA songs, Frida also (re-)recorded the song Andante Andante in Spanish last summer on Mallorca. She said Frida was very nervous about its release as the first single off Arturo Sandoval’s Duets album.
The first question came from an ‘old-fashioned’ collector from Oslo, asking if they would also release the new ABBA songs on vinyl. Görel replied with a smile that they were old fashioned, too, and, of course, they would be released in all formats.
Another asked how these singles came about. Görel answered that, over the years, the ABBA members had joked about recording again but through working together on the ABBAtar project, it seemed they had got a good reason to actually do it. Frida and Agnetha happily said, “Yes, let’s go into the studio…, no big deal.” The first single I Still Have Faith in You will be released during a BBC/NBC TV production in December, and the second single, Don’t Shut Me Down, will be released later. The recording of the two songs took five days in the studio, and they were not yet finished. Görel loves the songs and said that we would recognize the sound of ABBA. The first single is a ballad, and the second release is more up-tempo, a traditional song.
Someone asked if they had filmed the recordings of these songs, to which Görel jokingly replied (twice), “I can’t hear you!” Another person asked if we could expect a whole new album. Görel answered that there were no plans today, “But you never know.”
Two years ago at the ABBA Weekend in Stockholm, Mia mentioned a possible release of the live recordings of the Australian and European tour in 1977. However, this time, she said that the ABBA members themselves had decided against a release, but she also added, “You never know.”
Randy Roberts from the USA congratulated Görel on behalf of everyone for being awarded a Swedish Grammis earlier this year, which received a big round of applause.
The next guest was guitarist Lasse Wellander, interviewed by Stany van Wijmeersch. In the next magazine, you can read the whole interview. He was there to answer questions but also to play snippets of ABBA songs, ones on which he originally played, such as Slipping Through My Fingers and Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! as well as others he wished he had like Eagle and his favourite, Knowing Me, Knowing You. It was absolutely great to hear these demonstrations. Lasse also spoke about being involved in the new ABBA recordings.
Next, as a surprise guest, there was Owe Sandström, who was responsible for many of ABBA’s costumes. He had brought with him the original prototype of the garment worn by Benny and Björn in the video of Money, Money, Money. He has a great sense of humour and was available for an impressive question and answer session with us.
We learned that when working with ABBA at the time, he would bring multiple prototypes so the ladies could choose. He was asked if the girls had been shy when Owe presented the sexy clothes to them for the 1979 tour. He answered, “Yes, they were, but I told them that they had wonderful bodies.” Later, he kindly agreed that people could take photos and signed things for more than an hour, and you could see he had a lot of fun.

Mamma Mia! The Party

On Saturday evening, we went to the English version of Mamma Mia! The Party and got to experience very friendly staff, nice Greek food and a dazzling show with many ABBA songs, followed immediately by the ABBA disco that lasted well into the night.

Sunday, May 6th

In the morning, we had a fantastic ABBA boat tour around Djurgården where many ABBA highlights could be seen. Our very nice guide, Elisabeth, talked us through the history of the various ABBA-related places like park scenes from ABBA-The Movie, the former house of Stikkan Anderson and the place where the video clip for Bang-a-Boomerang was filmed. In the afternoon, there was an opportunity, especially for us fans, to visit Julius Kronberg’s studio at Skansen where the cover for The Visitors was shot.

The ABBA weekend in Stockholm was truly amazing. On behalf of everyone, I want to thank Helga and Anita for making this great experience possible.

Photos of the weekend can be found here.