On October 12, 2008, I had the opportunity to catch Arrival for the second time when they were performing at The Grove, in Anaheim. This time it was Arrival without the Austin Symphony Orchestra like the week before.
Prior to the show I met up with Los Angeles area ABBA fans, Rod, Fiona, and Pepe. We all met up before hand at the Virgin Megastore, nearby at The Block shopping center. It seemed to be an ideal meeting place with a few options to pick for dinner. We ended up getting a table at the TGI Friday’s restaurant that was in the outer rim of the mall parking lot.
By the time we made it over to the venue we had a small line to deal with at the box office for the will call tickets. The line was being held up by some guy who bought the premium tickets which included a dinner before the show, but he didn’t know it included the dinner and was trying unsuccessfully to get a credit back due to his inability to show up on time for the dinner. In the process of his arguing with the lady in the will call booth, he caused a lot of people behind him, including us, to miss the opening song. It was a good way through “Hey, Hey, Helen” before we were finally in the building and shown to our seats. Surprisingly the seating in the venue was very reminiscent of Las Vegas style showroom seating with tables basically designed for dining, but really lousy for looking at the stage. Despite the shortcoming of the venue layout, we weren’t there for that, we were there to see Arrival!
The line up of songs was a little different from the songs done in Austin. One of the highlighted differences for me was that this time “Does Your Mother Know” was performed which gave Henrik Paulsson, Arrival’s “Björn”, a chance to shine where the songs done in Austin were all pretty much ones with the girls on lead vocals. Rolf Ivraeus, Arrival’s “Benny”, gives an extremely spirited rendition of “Intermezzo No. 1” which is one of my favorite instrumental tracks of all time. Both guys did a great job taking turns to introduce songs and share some ABBA history between songs. They both look like they really enjoy getting to perform ABBA tunes.
As for the girls, Jenny Gustafsson, as Arrival’s “Agnetha”, was an absolute treat to see perform “As Good As New” which was one of the songs performed here but not in Austin. And I was telling everyone in the group I was with at the start of “The Winner Takes It All” that they should be prepared to be amazed, and boy were they ever. And Arrival’s founding member, Vicky Zetterberg as “Frida” really had our group of ABBA fans impressed with her version of “One Man, One Woman” and of course the usual Frida hits, “Money, Money, Money” and “Fernando.” Again the costume changes were like a time machine looking at the kimonos, the “Mamma Mia” video outfits, the 1977 tour outfits, the 1979 tour capes, and even the ever so brief appearance of the cat suits. All of the costumes brilliantly recreated.
Again, special mention for original ABBA musician, Finn Sjöberg, who is just an incredibly talented musician. He really rocked the house with his solos especially on “Eagle” and his stories about working with the real ABBA. When I saw the show in Austin, he said he was in ABBA: The Movie, so between the shows I saw, I put on my copy of ABBA: The Movie and going by hair styles I wouldn’t have recognized him, but by the guitar, it was instant recognition. Finn brought his original guitar that he used to tour with ABBA, and seeing it on the DVD, was really cool.
I took the chance to run to the merchandise stand while they were performing before the intermission to pick up the 4 track CD (the same songs can be heard in their entirety on the “Video and Music” tab of Arrival’s web site at http://www.arrival.se.) as well as the new 1 track CD with their new 2008 recording of “Just A Notion” CD single. (A definite must have for ABBA fans!!) Hopefully they’ll have “Just A Notion” available for purchase from their website in the near future for those not able to catch Arrival in concert right now. I would have bought both in Austin had the parking fees not taken all of my cash, and who would have thought they didn’t have an ATM machine in an obvious location in the symphony hall.
And unlike the Austin show where I did not have a chance to stay to meet the band following the show, the group of fans I was with we elected to stay to meet the band. We hung back to allow the audience members who wanted to meet them first to go ahead. While we were waiting we ran into Jeffrey, who is another ABBA friend I know. I didn’t know he was going to the show. So I chatted with him while a lot of the remaining audience members had their time with the group as they were meeting fans and signing pictures. I also got a chance to say hello and shake the hand of Finn Sjöberg, and he was really nice to meet.
I was actually called forward by a couple of members of our group who had gotten up to see the group and they made a special point to bring me to Vicky’s attention. She had read my column on ABBAMAIL.com between the time of the Austin show and the Anaheim show and she wanted to thank me for the review of the show. It was definitely an honor to meet and talk to her. She was kind enough to pose for a photo with me as well. I also got the sense she enjoyed the chance to talk to a group of ABBA fans who really appreciate the level of effort Arrival goes to in their ABBA show.
Although the real highlight for me that was special was that once the crowd died down enough, Vicky made sure to introduce me to Rolf, Henrik, and Jenny as “Ryan from ABBAMAIL, who wrote that nice review” and there was instant recognition from all of them. Jenny commented that she when she read I was going to be there in Anaheim in my column that she was a little bit nervous about it on stage, because she wanted to make sure it was a great performance. I assured her that she did another brilliant job.
You could definitely tell the members of Arrival really knew their ABBA as I got a chance to pose for a picture with all four and they asked me to come around the table and get in the middle to which they spontaneously broke out into the chorus of “Man In The Middle” which some might consider to be an obscure ABBA song as it’s one of the gems hidden as an album track on one ABBA’s early albums. Perhaps what truly sets Arrival apart from most ABBA tribute bands is they are ABBA fans themselves. And as Anaheim was the final night of their current tour to the US, the band said they were looking forward to enjoying a week off in Los Angeles before heading home to Sweden to get ready for their next series of shows.