Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Music of ABBA hits town

The ‘Benjamin Button’ of the 70s

Express Staff Writer

The almost-ABBA band ARRIVAL From Sweden is Simon Sjöstedt, Jenny Gustafsson (the blond girl), Victoria “Vicky” Norback (the brown -haired girl) and Fredrik Björns. Courtesy photo

It seems as though the music of 1970s band ABBA never ages, or, like the aging-in-reverse character Benjamin Button, at least their fans seem to keep getting younger.
    Launched from Sweden—and reincarnated through a Broadway show and later a film, “Mama Mia” and a charming movie called “Muriel’s Wedding,”—ABBA has fans all over the world. In some places, the band has earned cult-like status. There’s even an interactive museum of ABBA in Stockholm.
    On Sunday, July 7, the ABBA tribute band ARRIVAL From Sweden, will take the stage at the Sun Valley Pavilion for one night to take audiences on a musical retrospective by the only ABBA-sanctioned group in the world.
    “When I saw them, it was amazing how their unique harmonies sounded just like the original group with tons of energy,” said Frank Meyer, president and co-founder of the Sun Valley Opera, which is hosting the event. “They make anyone in a good mood and their stage fun is contagious.”
    Tickets are available now but are going fast. You can get tickets by visiting or calling 622-2135. There are a few packages with a Diva Night pre-party included. General admission ticket prices range from $25 to $65. Packages range from $75 to $5,000.
    ARRIVAL From Sweden founder Victoria Norback shared her excitement at portraying ABBA in an email interview with the Idaho Mountain Express.

IME: At what point did you wake up and say, “I want to be ABBA when I grow up?” (I mean really, who didn’t, but you DID.)
    Oh, it was not like that. I have been into music all my life as my mother was an opera singer, my grandparents were also musicians and did a lot of theatre, cabarets etc. etc., and I started my first band when I was a teenager. When I was 20 years old, I went to a Show School here in Göteborg (Gothenburg). The school was Stage School. After seeing an awful ABBA show from Australia here in Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden, I decided to do a proper ABBA show, the way ABBA should be presented and with respect for the group ABBA!

What is the genesis of the band? And the band name?
    I started the band in 1995 here in Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden. The name of the band is ARRIVAL From Sweden in the production THE MUSIC OF ABBA (

What is your favorite song to sing?
    I love most of ABBA’s songs. They have done nine albums, so it is really hard to pick one song. But of course “Dancing Queen,” “Honey Honey,” “Chiquitita,” “Thank You For The Music,” “Knowing Me Knowing You” and many more. And I also like a lot of the more unknown songs like “The King Has His Crown,” “I Wonder,” “Kisses Of Fire,” “Hole In Your Soul.”

Have you met with Abba members? What do they think?
    I have met Benny and Bjorn of ABBA many times. They think our show is really good and they like that we do the show with respect and have locked up all the musical details.

Best part of your job?
    To meet the audience, to go on stage, to travel and see the world!

What is the magic bullet that takes you from being you to being Abba?
    I am almost myself on stage. I do not have any wig or do anything special. But of course we have the staging clothes. They are exact copies of ABBA staging clothes with exclusive permission from the ABBA clothing designer. And, of course, I am going into my role during the songs as our show is a mix of a concert, show and musical experience of ABBA!

11 musicians? Why so many?
    Oh, 11 musicians are not many! To do ABBA proper and justice we need to be at least 11 musicians to get all the instruments and vocal parts. So we are two lead singers, me and Jenny. Fredrik is the guitar player and also sings lead and backing vocal. Simon is playing the keyboard and backing vocal. We also have three back-up singers, one saxophone player who also plays the extra guitar and the extra keyboard, one bass player, one percussionist and one drummer.

Has there been any desire to break off and go solo?
    No, not really! I have been running ARRIVAL From Sweden THE MUSIC OF ABBA for 18 years now.

Is there any room for original music? Does that get stifling?
    No, this is 100 percent ABBA! I have some other projects going on in Sweden but not in this level. It is more private stuff I do with friends.

Why is the music so embraced and so timeless?
    I can only say quality, great songs, fantastic musicians on the ABBA albums, two fantastic singers Agnetha and Anni-Frid in ABBA! An outstanding keyboard player Benny in ABBA! And Bjorn and Benny of ABBA are outstanding songwriters, just like Lennon-McCartney in The Beatles. You know ABBA has sold almost 500 million records and the musical “Mama Mia” has been on Broadway for over 13 years and still sells out.

ABBA opportunities
When: Saturday, June 29, from 8-10 p.m.
What: Fundraiser for the Sun Valley Opera featuring an ABBA Dance and Costume Night.
Where: Cornerstone Bar & Grill in Ketchum.
How much: $10 at the door.
In concert: ARRIVAL From Sweden. Joined by The American Festival Chorus and Orchestra.
Where: Sun Valley Pavilion.
When: Sunday, July 7.
Tickets: 622-2135 or 726-0991.

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