Benny discusses ABBA, Mamma Mia! and Eurovision

Benny Andersson, member of the Swedish group Abba said today that he was unsure "that the musical Mamma Mia reflects the spirit of Abba". The singer will today attend the opening of the show in Barcelona, in which he has written the music and lyrics together with his Abba colleague, Björn Ulvaeus. ‘Mamma Mia!’ tells a story through the songs of Abba. The dramatist Catherine Johnson wrote the text, for which explains Andersson "the music of Abba goes with the spirit of the story".

In an interview with Europa Press, Andersson indicated that he took on this project because "I cannot stop working with our music" even though at first he was a little resilient to the idea "I wanted to protect it because initially it was something big, but I became involved in the production so that I could give my own opinion". "Abba has a life without ‘Mamma Mia!’ but perhaps it is present because of the musical. However, many Abba songs deal with everyday themes such as love", said Andersson.

The songs that will be present in the musical are loyal to the original lyrics, only a few parts of ‘Chiquitita’, ‘Super’ and the last sentence of ‘Mamma Mia!’, the song that gives the musical its title "due to the relevance in the history of it". In this sense, Andersson says "Before the music was more important, now its the lyrics".

NO ABBA RETURN

The return of Abba to the stage is something that "is not going to happen", Andersson says confidently. The singer considers that "we are too old for pop music"

"Abba is something that I did more than 20 years ago" he said. Up to now, Andersson has published three solo albums in Swedish and his involvement in the musical has always been secondary to his music as opposed to Björn Ulvaeus.

He has also composed songs for theatre, cinema and even the Swedish National Anthem. In 2001 and 2002, the singer occupied the number 1 spot in the Swedish charts with "The Orchestra of Benny Andersson". Abba took part in the Eurovision Festival of 1973 with ‘Ring Ring’ which made it to third place. In 1974 they returned to Eurovision with ‘Waterloo’ which gave them the victory and international fame.

In this sense, Andersson with regards to the Eurovision Festival says that "It is too much. It is a fantastic format for television, but it is not good for music".

Oikotimes

Not long until Globen!

Anyway, as it transpired, it was much better watching it on a big telly in a Swedish pub in London with some good friends (some of which I didn’t know I had until that night) and lots of alcohol!

Benny Anderssons Orkester at Globen is a different proposition altogether. And if you love BAO as much as I do, then in the classic but sadly seldom heard words of Björn Ulvaeus and Herbert Kretzmer "You have to be there".

The last BAO gig I saw was back in 2005 at Stockholm’s Skansen. Due to other things going on, I didn’t get to see BAO in 2006.  Whilst I had a few ‘loyal spies’ at the Rival Hotel in May of that year, for the launch of BAO på turné and Florence’s Feel, I really felt like I missed out by not going to Stockholm or indeed Minnesota.

There was no Swedish summer tour last year and I’d hoped that it was because Benny and Björn would be spending so much time in New York getting Kristina ready that they wouldn’t have time for anything else.  Unfortunately, I was wrong!

In January this year, we learned of the fantastic news that Helen Sjöholm was pregnant, with her first child due in the summer.  Therefore, there would be no summer tour for BAO in 2007 either. (Very convenient for Benny to get some work done with the old ABBA backing gang, Meryl et al on the Mamma Mia! movie soundtrack though!)

So, right now, after all the waiting, I’m more than ready for a slice of BAO and to have all my questions answered at last….

  • What will Globen look like when turned into a ‘dance palace’ with thousands of middle-aged Swedes whirling like dervishes?
  • How will the new classics from ‘3’ (that not many people will have had the chance to hear before the show) go down live?
  • Will Tommy remember the words to all the old songs (nevermind the new ones!)?
  • Will I be able to see anything from where I’m sitting?
  • Where am I sitting? (I’m picking my ticket up on the night)
  • Will there be a programme?
  • Will BAO perform Crush On You? (the track written during Benny’s ABBA years)
  • Will I get another chance to marvel once again at Jörgen Stenberg on the xylophone during Jehu? And most importantly of course….
  • Will Helen find a baby-sitter for Ruben????

So many questions I’m looking forward to finding answers to and a massive show that I can’t wait to experience.

Enthusiastic Hotel Rival review

When I travel to Stockholm for the Globen BAO show, I’ll be staying for the first time, at Benny’s Hotel Rival.  Therefore, I was very interested to find this recent review of the Rival experience by a writer/blogger and interior design consultant.

It’s a good article, with lots of enthusiastic observations and great photographs, although at the price I paid for a standard room, I wouldn’t exactly describe it as a "budget hotel"!

Decor8 – Hotel Rival review

BAO ‘3’ to be released 24th October

BAO '3'Benny’s band plus singers Helen Sjöholm (she played Kristina in Benny & Björn’s Kristina från Duvemåla) and Tommy Körberg (who played the part of The Russian on the concept album of CHESS, and brought the role to life in London’s West End and also in the more recent Swedish production) are about to be unleashed again on CD!

At this point we know just four song titles for sure Crush On You, Fait accomplit, Bonde söker fru (Farmer seeks wife) and the reported Nu mår år vi mycket bättre (Now We Feel Much Better).

Catalogue Number: MMCD023

Mega

Berwaldhallen Benny Tribute Set List

Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester (conducted by Anders Berglund)

  • Anders Glenmark
  • Fred Johanson
  • Josefin Nilsson
  • Helena Jonason
  • Maria Magdalena Motettkör

Part 1

  • Ouvertyr
  • Ljuva sextital, Hej Clown, En Karusell, Hej Gamle Man
  • Vår Sista Dans – Helena
  • Efter Regnet – Helena and Fred
  • Födelsedagsvals till Mona
  • The Film I’d Like To See (in Swedish) – Josefin
  • Merano
  • One Night in Bangkok – Anders
  • Mountain Duet – Anders and Helena
  • Anthem – Fred

Part 2

  • Ouvertyr – selections from Kristina från Duvemåla (not in the programme)
  • Klinga mina klockor
  • The Conducator – Fred
  • When I Watch You in Your Sleep – Josefin
  • Var hör vi hemma
  • Guldet Blev till Sand – Anders
  • Du måste finnas – Helena
  • Älska mig – Josefin
  • Det är vi andå

The encore (on the 6pm Friday concert) was a medley: The Winner Takes It All, Dancing Queen and Thank You For The Music

Many thanks to Steve for the information.

BAO with Tommy Körberg at Skansen

Photo by Hanna Eklöf

Benny leads rehearsals at Skansen

Whole programme in which you’ll find Bonde söker fru at 3 mins, 35 secs into the show and Fait accomplit at 45  mins, 10 secs. 

Extra half hour not broadcast on TV (includes BAO performing Cadillac at 0 mins, 18 secs and a different take of Bonde söker fru immediately after).