Entertainment ABBA Voyage: 1970s pop sensations release new music ahead of virtual tour

ABBA Voyage: 1970s pop sensations release new music ahead of virtual tour

The foursome have rendered themselves into digital format for special concerts. Photo: Instagram/@abbavoyage
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Fans of re-united Swedish pop supergroup ABBA have been gifted two fresh tracks, the first new music from the group in almost 40 years.

The much anticipated tunes, I Still Have Faith in You and Don’t Shut Me Down were released on Thursday, with songwriter Benny Andersson promising eight more are on the way.

The male half of the group, Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, fronted a global digital launch party in London to introduce their songs to the world.

They said their female counterparts, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, had decided not to appear as they did not share the same love for the media.

Sydney fans may have spotted all four member’s younger faces on the Harbour Bridge on Thursday night, along with a brilliant light display.

Last week, rumour had it five songs were in the works ahead of the ABBA Voyage tour, but the SuperTroupers surprised everyone.

“First it was just two songs,” Andersson said.

“Then we said ‘maybe we should do, I don’t know, a few others. What do you say girls?’. And they said ‘yeah’ and then I asked ‘why don’t we do a full album?’.”

Watch: I Still Have Faith In You

The complete album, Voyage, has been four decades in the making and will be released on November 5. It is available to pre-order here.

It comes after a series of false starts, with the group first announcing a comeback tour in 2018.

Many thought it would never happen, but to be fair to the doubters the group did vow never to get back together when it broke up 39 years ago.

But Ulvaeus and Andersson told British DJ Zoe Ball during the official launch in London that “it was time”.

“We’ve been longing for this for such a long time,” Ulvaeus added.

The new album will be showcased with a virtual concert in May 2022, at purpose-built ABBA Arena in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The performance will feature digital versions of its four stars accompanied by a 10-piece live band.

Each member will be represented by an “ABBAtar”, making them appear as they looked in 1979.

The effect has been created using motion capture technology similar to that used to create Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies series and took five weeks to film.

“We dressed up in leotards with dots and little things on them, we had dots on our faces and helmets, with cameras. And there we were, the four of us on stage doing these songs,”  Ulvaeus said.

Andersson added that his only complaint was having to shave his beard for the 1979 look featured in the show.

“I’ve had my beard for 50 years,” he said.

“I can say one thing, Frida and Agnetha didn’t have to shave.”

The 160-minute show will feature 22 songs, including the two new numbers and a greatest hits compilation, including Dancing Queen.

Ulvaeus said the live show was “not four people pretending to be ABBA – it is actually them,”.

“What you see when you come to this show is actually us,” he said.

“We wanted to do it before we were dead.”

Tickets go on sale this month, but while Australians have been staunch supporters of the Swedish stars, they may have to settle for watching the action online.

Singer Agnetha Fälstkog, also known as ‘the blonde one’, said she had no idea what to expect when they finally got back together in the studio to record the new songs.

“But Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself! I can hardly believe that finally, the moment has come to share this with the world!” she said in an Instagram post.  

ABBA was founded in the early 70s by then couples Agnetha and Bjorn, together with Benny and Anni-Frid. Their initials gave the band its name.

It sold more than 385 million albums and topped charts from Australia to America with a string of hits including Waterloo, The Winner Takes It All and Take A Chance On Me.

Its last album with fresh material, 1981’s The Visitors, included songs tinged with the sadness of their divorces. The band split a year later.

Rumours swirled for years that ABBA would get back together, but the members turned down many offers, including one reported $US1 billion ($1.4 billion) package to tour again.

-with AAP