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ABBA are back and playing an indefinite virtual residency in Stratford

Welcome to the ABBA Arena

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski

A return for Swedish pop titans ABBA has been mooted for several years, ever since it emerged that Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus had been working on a handful of new songs. But nothing prepared us for the scale of this week’s announcement that, not only will there be a full-on new ABBA album – ‘Voyage’, out November 5 – but the band will return as a live entity… sort of.

In a move that’s been literally years in the making and gone under all our noses, it turns out that the ‘immersive theatre’ that’s been under construction in Stratford for a couple of years now is, in fact, the purpose-built 3,000-capacity ABBA Arena where audiences will be able to watch a special concert that mixes a live ten-piece band with an ultra-high-tech pre-recorded motion-capture performance from the four members of ABBA: that’s Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid.

Exactly how this goes down is somewhat TBC: the word ‘hologram’ has been bandied around, but it seems more likely that it’ll be some sort of AR experience. Whatever the case, the show is the first music offering from George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic special effects company, with an 850-strong team working on this show alone. Whatever it is, it will surely be spectacular, and perhaps lays down a blueprint for the future of live music as the giants of the ’60s and ’70s retire.

It also confirms London as the ABBA capital of the world: with ‘Mamma Mia!’ in the West End and ‘Mamma Mia! The Party’ at The O2, there will be roughly 5,000 Londoners seeing a live ABBA show on any given night. 

The ABBA Arena doesn’t open its door until May 27 next year, but tickets go on sale on Tue Sep 7, and if you sign up here by Sep 5 you’ll be eligible for a pre-sale from Sep 6. 

Immersive theatre in London.

Mass karaoke is way better than we expected.

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