Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 27 November 2015
During the 1970’s, Swedish pop group ABBA reigned supreme. The 2nd biggest Swedish export after Volvo cars, their music has lasted decades. A regular fixture on the ‘Countdown’ charts, they would often find themselves leading such musical luminaries as Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy and the ever charming Pussyfoot. Whilst pop acts came and went quicker than Molly Meldrum could string a sentence, ABBA-mania dominated Australia. Their biggest market after the U.K., this country worshiped them like musical gods. But like many idols, their lustre gradually faded before their break-up in late 1982.
Even with their demise, ABBA refused to fade with several movies and stage shows featuring their tunes. Forming in Melbourne in 1988, Bjorn Again picked up the ABBA mantle. A mock-serious ode to the Swedish song-smiths, Bjorn Again have put their own gleeful spin on ABBA’s many songs. Everyone would know at least one of their tunes with several recent musicians covering a track or two. ABBA was all about fun and enjoying life which is something Bjorn Again effectively conveys. Officially recognised by ABBA’s Benny and Bjorn, Bjorn Again embraces the era of kitsch and glitter with stylish aplomb.
Backed by a two-piece band of drummer and guitarist with ‘Benny’ and ‘Bjorn’ on keyboard and guitar respectively, Bjorn Again bounded onto stage like glittering superstars. Whilst they make not look exactly like the fabulous Swedish foursome, they successfully evoked the era in which they thrived. Beginning with Give Me a Man after Midnight (which cleverly morphed into the Madonna tune Hung Up which sampled its melody), the hits literally kept on coming. They were all there – Fernando, Waterloo, Dancing Queen, et al. All were given the unique Bjorn Again twist without the show becoming a glorified karaoke-fest. It is easy mimicking a group, making it fresh and entertaining is more difficult. Bjorn Again overcome this obstacle with ease and they injected genuine humour into their performance whilst respecting the source material.
They interacted extremely well with the audience, ensuring the show was a truly enjoyable experience. Dancing, clapping, yelling and singing were the order of the evening and everyone joined in. Bjorn Again are a perfect party band going the extra mile in providing a good time. They were well served by the imaginative staging, including the lighting which added much to the atmosphere. Each song was treated differently in this regard with the ladies from Bjorn Again dancing around with skill. ‘Benny’ and ‘Bjorn’ were very good as well, joining in the banter with some song deviations such as their ABBA-tinged version of the Bon Jovi tune Living on a Prayer which bought the house down. They myriad of costume changes were a sight to behold with much sparkle and dazzle on the outfits a feast for the eyes.
It’s been awhile since Bjorn Again came to Adelaide and judging from last night’s enthusiastic reaction, a return visit should be sooner than later. They treat their idols with respect without showing too much self-indulgent reverence. Anyone who didn’t at least smile once during their show shouldn’t have been there as they made this somewhat ageing reviewer relive past glories without the need to wear ABBA’s satin tights.
Rating out of 5: 5
Reviewed by: Patrick Moore
Venue: Festival Theatre
Season: 27 November 2015
Duration: 2 hrs, 15 mins.
Tickets: A Reserve – Adult: $69.50, A Reserve – Family 2a + 2c: $250.00, B Reserve – Adult: $49.50, B Reserve – Family 2a + 2c: $175.00.