It has been 40 years since the original ABBA split, but its iconic tunes continue to transcend time. The group sold almost 400 million records worldwide from its 10-year career, and in 2022, its music continues to have an impact.
Through 1999’s Mamma Mia!, an original musical whose narrative centered around some of the band’s most popular songs, numerous fan clubs and tribute bands like ABBA: The Concert, ABBA has established itself as timeless.
ABBA: The Concert is set to return to Chautauqua at 8:15 p.m. Friday, July 15, in the Amphitheater with classic hits from the original group.
“We’re so looking forward to coming back to Chautauqua. (We’ve) been there many times, and we absolutely love that place and the people,” said Katja Nord, founder and lead singer.
The group last performed at Chautauqua in 2018, and, according to the tribute band’s website, has been called “the best ABBA since ABBA” by the original group’s international fan club.
First known as Waterloo, the group was founded by Nord and Camilla Dahlin, who perform as Anni-Frid Lyngstad, also known as Frida, and Agnetha Fältskog, respectively. The pair began singing together as teenagers, and they have been performing ABBA hits for over two decades.
“Waterloo was founded (in) 1996 in Stockholm by me and my friend, Camilla Dahlin,” Nord said. “Many people told us that we sounded and looked like ABBA. There was a ’70s wave coming in at that time, and both of us were big ABBA fans as children.”
The duo received permission from original members of ABBA, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, to perform as a tribute band.
“We started with asking my mother to sew costumes for us, and of course, it was the Waterloo costumes. We were looking for musicians and got a band together,” Nord said.
Beyond performing, Nord and Dahlin are responsible for how the show is set, including everything from writing the script to sewing the stage clothes.
Alongside Nord, the three other main members who will be performing in Chautauqua include Elin Sjönneby as Agnetha, Andreas Novak as Björn and Mathias Hellberg as Benny.
Several other musicians perform with the group, including Kristian Brink on the keyboard and saxophone, Andreas Westman on bass, Anders Berlin on drums, Magnus Josephson on the lead guitar, and Maria Stadell and Kristin Hellberg on back-up vocals.
“The four (key) ABBA (members) try 100% to be as similar as possible to the originals,” Nord said. “Our goal is to give the audience the feeling of watching the real ABBA (with our) movements, appearance and sound.”
ABBA: The Concert is also from Sweden, which enhances the true connection to the original Swedish hit band.
“Since we are from Sweden, I think we have a more natural connection, and it also becomes very authentic with our sound,” Nord said.
Traveling to over 30 different countries, from Brazil to China to the United States to the Philippines, Nord’s most memorable venues include the Royal Albert Hall in London and Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
“We have been touring the whole world, it feels like,” Nord said.
The concert will feature some of ABBA’s top hits and lesser-known bops. Nord said their main goal is to give audience members the feeling that they are watching the real ABBA.
“Of course we will play the big big hits such as ‘Mamma Mia,’ ‘Waterloo’ and ‘Dancing Queen,’ ” Nord said. “Let the rest be a surprise.”