A friend of mine, Michael Reh who is a great photographer from Berlin, has sent me some great German ABBA-articles. Thank you so much, Michael. Here is the first one, from 1974. Thanks to Dirk for the translation, my German skills unfortunately leave a lot to be desired. Interesting read, it wasn't all that successfull, but the reviewer saw the potential at least...
ABBA didn't have to face a Waterloo
The first Big Europe tour had a lot of difficulties. Not all halls where sold out and in Zurich they had to cancel a gig because of lack of people showing up. And in the group they had some difficulties: The singer Frida had a real bad cold and every day they were afraid that they had to cancel a show. But ABBA did it: People yelled for "Waterloo", even before the show started. But the people who where yelling were standing everywhere in the hall, between empty chairs. In any city the tour organizers couldn't call a show "sold out'. There where more then 1.000-1.500 people in a hall which could have taken in twice as big an audience. In Bremen there where even less... Two hits don't make a sold out venue. But the people who showed up where always just enough... Thank God that they never had to cancel the tour, like Alvin Stardust had to do. Their Waterloo never took place!
It was the most mixed audience of the year. From a 9-year old girl until a couple of "standard" 30 year old concert goers who just took the chance to get a night out. And they got what they came for: A complete SHOW.
Glittering and singing ABBA whirled around the stage and presented their rock schlager in a very visually way. Both girls were wearing capes. Agnetha in a white tight fitting piece, Frida in a very short dress showing a lot of leg. Björn always smiling and strumming his guitars in a very posh, low cut pant suit and platform boots higher than Dave Hill's and Gary Glitter's put together. And Benny in an "ocelot-jacket" with red trouses at the piano. It all looked a bit like a circus.
The girls danced like gogo girls showing off their beautiful bodies and sung in perfect harmony. Björn and Benny where singing like two male elks from the north and more importantly: it was loud, but it wasn't pleasant! That said, ABBA has so many more possibilites vocally, many more than other groups. But only the girls showed class.
The background musicians were classy aswell. They gave a rocking sound and the trumpets where as perfect, almost like "mini- Chicago". This is all thanks to Benny who has studied music and wrote all the arrangemenst. His possibiltites are shown when he was playing an instrumatal song [Intermezzo #1]. It was exceptional.
Most of the times it was just bubblegum music although sometimes musically it was really special. The audience just sat there and did nothing. Singing and clapping along died out quickly. The only reason the audience wanted an encore was that they where waiting for the band to play "Waterloo" and that got them all going. Sad, really. At the Eurovision Song Contest ABBA really made a difference, the song was something else and so progressive. But ABBA only so far has copied that but if they really wanted they could do it better. But maybe one day they will!
A funny thing I just noticed the other day was that the same picture from this article was used as a single cover in Thailand!