ABBA tour expansion? – U.S. & European treks may lead to Japan and far East. By Paul Grein

Los Angeles

ABBA’s current world tour, now set to end on the 15th of November 1979 in Dublin, Ireland may be extended, says group manager Stig Anderson, so that the act can make its first concert appearances in Japan and other Far Eastern territories.

Anderson earlier added a 23-date European trek to the group’s 18-date maiden North American tour, reasoning that since it’s so costly to mount a tour, the group might as well extend its benefits. He may follow the same logic here.

“We had promised that they would go to Japan earlier this year,” says Anderson, “but we had to cancel that tour and also one of Eastern Europe and Russia because the album took so long. Voulez-Vous should have been out last November, 1978 but didn’t come out until May, 1979.”

The North American tour, which concludes October 7th, 1979 in Toronto, required $US1million to mount, according to Anderson, who estimates that houses will have to be close to 90% sold-out for the group to break even.

The tour isn’t intended to be a big money-maker, he says, or even to cause a sudden upturn in ABBA’s record sales on this continent, but merely to lay the groundwork for return trips. “We’re just scratching the surface,” Anderson says. “Maybe the market will open up a bit for us so we can do bigger gigs next time.”

But if the tour itself won’t add to Anderson’s riches, he will see a profit when he sells rights to an hour-long TV special based on the tour which he’s producing with Swedish television. Anderson is selling it himself on a market-by-market basis, the same way he’s set up distribution for ABBA’s records and its feature, ABBA-The Movie.

(Warner Bros. is finally releasing that film in the U.S., according to Anderson, in tour cities following the group’s appearances.)

The tour could generate more profit were it not for the relatively modest ticket prices. Anderson set a top price of $US9.50, explaining. “We draw a lot of families with kids.”

The tour is also keyed to smaller halls, with the largest the 14,000-capacity St. Paul Civic, Thursday (27); the smallest the 3,000-capacity Portland (Ore.) Opera House, Monday (17). See related story, page 6.

The tour was plotted by Anderson, together with ABBA’s agent Thomas Johansson and representatives of ICM. All agreed to stick with smaller halls even if this meant some fans would be unable to get tickets. “We’d rather have a few fans disappointed than risk playing to empty houses,” says John Spalding, ABBA’s financial controller.

There are about 50 in ABBA’s entourage, including a nine-member band augmenting the foursome’s sound. The equipment requires two large trucking vans.

Despite the efforts being made on the road, the group has turned down spots on the “Today,” “Tonight” and “Tomorrow” shows, according to a source at NBC-TV. Anderson says the group is instead concentrating on press and radio interviews to support the shows.

The group also has plans to go to Mexico, Latin America and South America for the first time, but for T.V. appearances only. In fact it has cut a Spanish-language version of I Have A Dream from Voulez-Vous as its next single for those markets.

ABBA may not be able to do all of the proposed touring. Anderson cautions, because it takes about a year to do each album and he wants a new studio LP out by October 1980. In one month a Greatest Hits, Vol. II will be issued, along with a new single, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Transcribed for ABBA World

Billboard (USA) · 29 September 1979 (Pages 3 & 16)

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