When ABBA goes on tour…There’s 30 tonnes of equipment, 40 helpers, champagne, fruit and scotch in the dressing room – and, of course, thousands of fans clamouring to see their idols. By Lars Petterson

“The world’s most beautiful people don’t sweat!” says ABBA’s tour leader Bosse Norling. “You musn’t take any such pictures.”

ABBA sweating? Of course they do, after two tough hours on stage. But their image - fresh, clean and nice - mustn’t be rumpled.

ABBA are world artists – the only ones Sweden has in pop music. But ABBA is more than a pop group. It is also a multi-million dollar business.

Let’s look at ABBA’s 1977 European tour which culminated at London’s Albert Hall.

In all, 46 people, with 30 tonnes of equipment, made up the entourage which toured seven countries in 18 days.

In that time, the group gave 20 concerts in 14 cities and towns for an audience of 90,000.

The scene is the Brondbyhallen, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

About 5000 fans have paid to see their idols. Most of them are young pre-teens – girls aged eight to 12. But there are also older teens, mothers, fathers and very small children.

Tense atmosphere

The atmosphere is tense. Expectations have been brought to breaking-point and the very air seems thick.

The show’s opening is signalled by bongo drums - faintly to begin with, then louder and louder ‘till their sound reaches a roar.

The curtain billows, hinting that ABBA is moving behind it. The audience a-buzz with anticipation. And then the curtain sweeps away! There they are, dressed in white and gold, glittering.

“ABBA! ABBA! ABBA!” The audience is carried away.

We switch to the Hotel Plaza after the show. Group members are drinking cognac with coffee after a late supper with friends.

“What a fantastic public,” Björn says. ”They are quite incredible here in Copenhagen!”

Writing lyrics

He is aware that the mini-musical that is part of the show has some textual weaknesses.

“We were in a hurry. We’ll probably get some pros to touch them up,” he says.

One of the pros with ABBA is Stikkan Anderson. I met him a few weeks before the Eurovision competition at Brighton in 1974, and he then had this to say about his way of working:

“I listen to the melody, the music. Then I translate it into Morse. I was a telegraph operator when doing my military service. The Morse alphabet is a melody, and there is a melody for each letter.

He says that he wrote the words for Waterloo like this: “I was looking for a little word that hadn’t to be translated. And I needed a tri-syllabic word to fit the melody. Like you-and-me, di-di-da – the letter U in Morse.”

The result was Wa-ter-loo, and that was the beginning of ABBA’s international career.

Loyalty the key

Loyalty is the key word for ABBA. A good deal of their appeal is this togetherness. They are together and that reflects security and success.

This year, ABBA expects to earn $11.8 million. That calculation does not include a possible breakthrough into the American market.

After their show at the Arena Hall in Antwerp, Belgium, the members of the group are relaxing in their dressing room. As their contract specifies, there is Johnnie Walker black label whiskey, Pommery champagne, soda water, Coca-Cola, coffee, tea, milk and fresh fruits.

Are they tired?

“Yes, it’s quite a job to work this hard night after night. But as long as we are on the stage we’re never tired.” Transcribed for ABBA World

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly · 19 September 1977 (Page 6)

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