Chris Park chat's with the people behind Bjorn Again
ABBA are back in the world thanks to the recent release of Mamma Mia II and rumours of new music incoming but it’s hard to believe that there was a time that they ever went away. That is a lot to do with an Australian man called Rod Stephens who decided to create the cult classic touring extravaganza Bjorn Again.
Now celebrating their 30th anniversary, the ABBA concept show is back on the road and coming to Manchester. Canal St’s Chris Park had a chat with Stephens as well as “Annifrid” and “Agnetha”.
Tell me about the forthcoming tour
They are all UK shows and one show in Ireland. It is the 30th anniversary tour, we’re getting old. It still looks authentic and will feature all the big hits from ABBA Gold. There are some treats in there including a special guest star for Manchester.
After doing this for 30 years, how do you keep it fresh?
The show is exciting, we inject humour into it and just have great fun. In the summer we supported Steps and had new modern outfits of black and silver. We like to change it up a bit, every tour has a theme. At Christmas we will be wearing Christmas Kimonos and doing Christmas songs possibly.
Do you change the songs musically?
In some respects they are a carbon copy but in others we mix it up, for instance we have a rap in Take A Chance on Me that Benny does about winning the affections of Frida. In Ring Ring Benny and Bjorn have big telephones. Our stage antics work well. Bjorn Again has its own identify, it’s more fun to put our own stamp on.
Has the Mamma Mia II informed the setlist?
It does, I dragged him (Rod) to the cinema to see it and we were blown away. It struck me as better than the first. The songs are done so well and it brings it to a younger generation.
You’re popular in universities where students are way younger than ABBA’s music, why do you think this is?
The music is enduring, it strikes a chord. There is simplicity and a message. The world is full of serious issues at the moment and I think people come to see us to forget about that. It reminds me of parties in the 80s where we had a good time, things weren’t so dangerous, they were happy times. We met Christine Baranski (Mamma Mia) when we were doing The One Show and she said that the music is so amazing and special, ABBA weren’t that big in America, Dancing Queen got to number one but Benny and Bjorn said they never cracked the US.
You’ve done some iconic venues, where is next for you?
We’ve got some big things in the summer. Rio would be massive, the Rolling Stones did 250,000 there.
Are you excited for new music from ABBA?
Apparently there is a new album coming. They love dangling carrots and keeping everyone waiting. It has been put back until the New Year but they have been working with all the old equipment from the 70s.
Will you incorporate any of this into the live shows or do you prefer to keep the 70s vibe?
If there is an outstanding track then we will chuck it in but Bjorn Again is how I saw ABBA in their heyday when they were all married, it’s a snapshot in time and the relationship issues that go with that.
Which songs do you get the best reaction to?
Dancing Queen is the piece de resistance. Everyone gets involved and go’s mental. Manchester have always got the energy.
What is your favourite ABBA song?
Eagle, Why Does it Have to Be Me and Gimme Gimme Gimme.
Bjorn Again hit Manchester Academy on 15th December, get tickets from link below.Read More