Björn Again at the LCR 6/12/18 - Review
I realise two things when I walk into the venue: 1. I must have missed a venue about fancy dress, because so many of the people in front of me are wearing ABBA-themed costumes, and 2. I am one of the youngest people in the room by about 30 years.
This could not deter me, from the moment I knew Björn Again - famous ABBA tribute band that has been performing for 30 years – was performing, I had to be there.
The lights go down and the music begins while I’m in the queue for drinks, which puts me in a bit of a panic. I don’t want to miss anything, especially because they start with ‘Waterloo’, one of my personal favourites, but by the time they burst into a rendition of ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ I have my drink and am watching with glee.
Of the six people on stage Benny the keyboardist is the one my eyes are drawn to. He’s really getting into each track, jumping up and down, shaking from side to side, having just as much fun as the crowd that screamed along to the ABBA classics. A hero.
As well as dressing up in the shiny costumes ABBA is known for, the male members of the group have long ABBA-esque hair styles, and I can’t help but wonder: do they just have it like that just out of commitment to the band. Do they actually hate it and which they could cut their hair short once again, but don’t want to risk compromising their income?
Could be. Their commitment should not be questioned, as they went so far as too put on Swedish accents the entire time, and it was only after the gig when I looked them up to help with this review that I found out they were actually from Australia (and felt sufficiently betrayed).
Despite being a tribute band, they didn’t just play the songs by the Swedish pop group they were inspired by. Half way through performing ‘SOS’ they transition instead into a cover of the song ‘Message in a Bottle’ by The Police, and for the last couple of verses of ‘Take a Chance on Me’ Benny grabs the microphone and turns the song and its lyrics into a rap, complete with bucket hat and weird fake glasses (I told you Benny was my favourite). It’s an absurd our-of-body experience that neither I nor the person I went to see Björn Again with know whether we’re loving it or hating it.
They make use the occasional props during the show, at one point taking out a pair of giant phones.
When the band comes back after the interval, two of its members are wearing ponchos on top of their regular costumes, a strange choice, especially because this new outfit is removed almost immediately, and feels a tad unnecessary. I would have liked it more if they’d properly committed to either wearing the same costume the whole show, or changing it up, because trying to do both when you can tell their heart’s aren’t in it gives off a weird feeling.
We’ve been waiting the whole show for it, but finally Björn Again play the song we’d all been waiting for: ‘Mamma Mia’. After they finish, they leave the stage and the chanting begins. The crowd wants more. The group rushes back onto the stage (now in santa hats) and jumps straight in to Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, following up with three ABBA classics we’re all surprised hadn’t been played already: ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Winner Takes it All’ before playing the song we all know deep down they had to end the set with: ‘Thank You for the Music’.
Although it was missing a couple of my personal ABBA favourites ('One of us' and 'Why Did it Have to be me?'), I had a great time. You could even say i was reBjörn.