ABBA confirmed years of rumors earlier this week when they announced that they’ve reunited to record their first new album since 1981’s The Visitors. “We took a break in the spring of 1982 and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it,” the group said in a statement. “They say it’s foolhardy to wait more than 40 years between albums, so we’ve recorded a follow-up to The Visitors. We simply call it Voyage and we’re truly sailing in uncharted waters.”
ABBA aren’t going to go on tour, but they have worked with Industrial Light & Magic to perform “digitally” at a London arena residency next year. The exact details have yet to be released, but the show will feature de-aged digital avatars of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad along with a live 10-piece band. “Join us for a concert 40 years in the making,” they said. “A concert that combines the old and new, the young and not-so-young. A concert that has brought all four of us together again.”
ABBA haven’t performed together in person since a 1986 TV rendition of “Tivedshambo” to honor their manager Stig Anderson. They’ve turned down roughly a billion dollars for reunion tours over the years. “We never even contemplated going into negotiations because we didn’t want to do it,” Andersson told Rolling Stone in 2009. “The people who are really fond of ABBA for what we did, I think we are doing them a favor by not going out. We all feel the same. It’s been too long of a time. There is no reason. I can’t understand the bands that reunite, because there will always be a reason, whether it be economic reasons or the fun of it … being on the stage again. We don’t have that.”
Andersson and Ulvaeus made a rare exception to this on June 11th, 1992, when they turned up unannounced at a U2 concert in Stockholm to perform “Dancing Queen” with the band. As you can see from this video, the crowd went absolutely insane when they realized what was happening. This is just a few months after Wayne’s World opened in theaters, and Bono wraps up the song by bowing down to them Wayne and Garth–style and saying, “We’re not worthy.”
It would have been a lot more memorable if Fältskog and Lyngstad had joined them, but they’ve kept a very low profile since the band split and have had no interest in reliving their old glories. This ABBA reunion isn’t quite what fans hoped for since they won’t get to see the group play their old hits in the flesh, but what they’ve created is basically the next best thing. If it works, it’s easy to imagine everyone from Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to ‘NSync putting together similar shows where they can send their fans back to the past without actually having to show up.