The last time I attended an ABBA-related event in Melbourne it was the Australian premiere of “Mamma Mia.” It was a star-studded event that culminated in having a photograph taken with Bjorn.
There were fewer celebrities at the opening of ABBAWORLD. There was Anthony Callea who stood next to me for quite some time who was actually taller than I’d imagined. There was Ross Wilson who was conversely shorter than I’d imagined. Judith Durham was there also, though I didn’t actually see her. I also saw a bloke whose face I recognised but whose name and identity slipped my mind until someone asked him, only to discover it was Belvedere from Good Morning Australia.
The opening for me wasn’t about celebrities. It was actually mostly about catching up with some fans who I haven’t seen for quite some time. It was a bit like a class reunion in some respects. “Do you think there’ll be any new faces here tonight?” I asked a friend… “or just the same old ones ten years older and fatter”, I added, joking.
It was also about the exhibition. Much, of course, has been made of the costumes in the exhibition. While it’s interesting to see them, I was far more interested in the music and the Swedish stuff. I actually listened to the Swedish commentary and was pleased it was simple and clear enough for me to mostly follow.
There’s a real sense of Swedishness about the exhibition too. There’s a style to some of the museums in Stockholm eg: police museum, dance museum that you can see and feel in this exhibition. It should be no surprise then my favourite room in the exhibition is the room where they have recreated the island shack where Bjorn and Benny composed many of the hits. As you stand in the room you look out to a moving picture image of the archipelago which is simply stunning.
Chatting later with one of the Melbourne fans I haven’t seen for years, he asked me what I thought of it. I told him, honestly, I wasn’t blown away by it, but that I thought it was very very good and that I loved that it was reasonably honest and true to the story of ABBA. Thankfully, it tells the complete story of their music, rather than concentrating on Mamma Mia etc in an effort to promote further sales. It’s good. I’d recommend it.