ABBA spent seven hours a day for more than a month working on performance routines for their upcoming Voyage digital performance spectacular.
The four members wore motion-capture suits in front of 200 cameras with around 40 people behind the scenes, Benny Andersson told Rolling Stone. More than 1,000 staff workers from the movie-effects giant ILM were involved in putting the show together, while the custom-built ABBA Arena in London was redesigned three times to accommodate the 20 lighting rigs hung from the roof. The resulting “experience” will see the “ABBA-tars” of Andersson and his bandmates perform alongside real-life musicians with a 196-show run starting on May 27.
“It was really a pleasure for all of us,” Andersson said. “It’s been a lot of uphill. Brexit, the pandemic. It’s been a lot of stuff that hasn’t worked well, but we’ve been resilient.” Explaining that the original members’ movements were later emulated by younger performers to present ABBA in their heyday, he noted that “we are sort of merged together with our body doubles. Don’t ask me how it works because I can’t explain that! If you’re 75, you don’t jump around like you did when you were 34, so this is why this happened.”
He said of the results: “I see myself standing onstage, talking to you. It’s absolutely believable. It’s not unbelievable. It’s believable!” Touching on the fact that interest from new generations of ABBA fans made it possible to stage such a production, he reflected: “That’s pretty weird, isn’t it? It’s 40 years ago, and the corpse is still moving. I don’t know. Maybe it’s good enough. Maybe that’s the only answer.”
Andersson’s son Ludvig, a Voyage producer, was one of the team members who decided the usual kind of hologram projections weren’t good enough for what was envisaged for this production. “We hear often, ‘This is the dawn of a new era in live entertainment,’” Ludvig said. “I think that’s an incorrect statement. I don’t think it is. This is unique.”