REVIEW: “ABBA The Concert: A Tribute to ABBA — One Night Only @ Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Updated: Nov 16

“…Bringing One of the Greatest Pop Phenomena Ever Back to Life!”


Can you ever have too much ABBA?

I don't think so!


Having just seen the stage production of "Mamma Mia!" at La Mirada Theatre this past weekend, I still had the songs circling in my head. Compounding that springy disco beat, last night I attended Segerstrom's biggest dance party this year: ABBA The Concert: A Tribute to ABBA. Here, you could dance, you could jive, and have the time of your life at this one-night-only celebration of the music of enduring pop sensation ABBA.


ABBA is the second-highest selling pop group of all time, behind only The Beatles. The Swedish group’s songs have inspired a musical, two films based on said musical, and kept ’70s discos thriving across the globe. Few can forget the huge impact Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad made on modern popular music, and many mourned when their rule of pop ended voluntarily only ten years later. But with only eight studio top-selling albums, their songs are still played around the world, having well over 400 million in total record sales.


Fortunately for the fans here in Orange County, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts welcomed back to their stage ABBA The Concert, the top ABBA tribute group in the world that looks and sounds just like the original foursome, dazzling everyone with their fantastic performance for a November 2nd “back to the theatre” celebration. The packed venue enjoyed a night of ABBA’s most iconic hits, all performed impeccably, kicking off the night with the danceable “On and On and On,” “Gimme!, Gimme!, Gimme!”, “Take a Chance on Me,” “Thank You For the Music,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Lay All Your Love on Me,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Slipping Through My Fingers, “The Name of the Game,” and “Dancing Queen.”


The band also stayed true to the original ABBA fashion statements they made in the early days, performing on stage with identical clothing style, while keeping us up on our feet as they continued dazzling the audience with “S.O.S,” “Fernando,” the tear-jerker “The Winner Takes It All,” and “Does Your Mother Know.”


And there was an initial hush in the audience when one of my favorites, “Chiquitita,” softly began — a chilling, flawless reproduction of the song, bringing back memories of the original stage production and movie, “Mamma Mia!” And when they broke into the highly anticipated number, “Mamma Mia!” the audience immediately burst into dance, arms swinging in the air wildly, with many singing along in true party-style. Next, an amazing spectacle of phone flashlights filling the darkness gave us a sentimental journey with "I Have a Dream."


Most people are aware that ABBA is one of Sweden's most proud exports. In fact, not many know that the song "Waterloo" was originally performed in Swedish or that “Dancing Queen” was first performed for the royal couple in Sweden. If you think that ABBA was popular world-wide, it would be a drop in the bucket compared to the Swedish hysteria for ABBA in the 1970s where every little girl fancied themselves an Anni-Frid or Agnetha. Appropriately enough, ABBA the Concert is also fronted by four Swedes, but the music, of course, has long been claimed by the rest of the world as their own.

Back in 1996, Martin Håkansson and Christian Fast was a big part of starting the ABBA-tribute band Waterloo. Quickly they became known for their fantastic ABBA-sound and ABBA-look-a-like performance. The reason for their enduring success?


“It’s pop evergreen,” says the band. “Benny Andersson was so advanced harmonically, he’s very innovative when it comes to creating melodies. You can hear it’s all well-crafted songwriting. If you redress the songs today with modern production, they would still stand the test of time.” That enduring quality of ABBA’s music is replicated in the success ABBA The Concert has enjoyed with their tribute act.


In 1998-1999 Tom Beimel, Marcus Olsson and Maria Almlöv joined the group. In 2003-2005 Jonas Lidholm, Johan Löfgren and Charlotte Berg also joined, and back in 2007 Mia Ternström, Marica Lindé, Matilda Lindell and Sandra Wallin made the band complete. Together they were ”Waterloo The Band.” But, because of all the confusion (there was another band with the same name) the 12 members decided in September 2013 to take a new name, The Visitors.

Since then, they have been touring Sweden, Europe, Asia and USA. In 2007 they were a part of a sold-out ABBA-tribute called ABBA The Show in London England, and subsequently did two longer tours in Germany. They have spent years touring Europe and Asia, and have had the privilege of doing over 20 extensive tours in the USA, with promoter 21st Century Artist Inc. renaming them, ABBA The Concert – A Tribute to ABBA.” Their many successful U.S. tours have resulted in sold-out shows at well-known venues, such as the famous Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles (15,000 people), Highland Park in Chicago (20,000 people), Seaside Summer Concert Series in Brooklyn, NY (11,000+ people), and enjoyed sell-out nights at both the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, FL and at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, FL.


And now ABBA The Concert has returned to Orange County, if only for one night. Their voices, crystal perfect, and their harmonies, exactly in step with the ABBA sound. And yes, they have the hair, and yes, they have the costumes, but it usually takes so much more than that. It takes a heap of talent. But having lived through the 70's and having committed to memory all of ABBA's songs, I can attest to the fact that ABBA The Concert was spot on, almost indistinguishable to the original...and that’s not an easy thing for me to say.


Segerstrom Center for the Arts and 21st Century Artists Inc., presents ABBA The Concert, in a single, mesmerizing performance, only at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, playing last evening, November 2nd, bringing one of the greatest pop phenomena ever back to life. With hundreds of performances over the past two decades, audiences and press are all in agreement: This is the closest to ABBA you’ll ever get! More than anything, we need to feel good right now and recover from this past year and a half hiatus, and ABBA the Concert did exactly that for SoCal audiences.


Chris Daniels

Arts & Entertainment Reviewer

The Show Report