Arrival is an ABBA Tribute Band that originates from Sweden. They are currently touring the US in a show entitled “The Music of ABBA Featuring Arrival” and I just had the pleasure of seeing them Saturday night in Austin, Texas where they performed with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. And Arrival were absolutely amazing. They definitely earn the title of best ABBA tribute band in the world that my friends at the headquarters of ABBAMAIL.com have bestowed upon this tribute band.
I was so moved by their performance that I opted to write about their show for my October column for ABBAMAIL.com and if you want to read a more in depth review of my experience, click here to read my ABBAMAIL column. If you want just a nutshell version, just keep reading here.
While there are many ABBA tribute bands out there, the one thing you’re guaranteed is a chance to see a bunch of people dress up in costumes and perform a concert of ABBA songs. However, the quality of that experience varies greatly. There are some very good ABBA tribute bands (such as Arrival and Waterloo) and some very bad ABBA tribute bands (such as Björn Again).
In the case of a bad ABBA tribute band, you’re going to see a show which seems to make fun of ABBA more than it pays tribute to it through such things as really badly faked Swedish accents to the guys portraying “Björn” and “Benny” denouncing ABBA music and playing some completely different genre of music while the girls run back stage to change costumes, and you’ll often find the wrong member of the tribute band singing the songs, which to people who only own ABBA Gold (their best selling 1 disc hits collection) and don’t really know ABBA, isn’t a big deal. But to those who pay attention to ABBA, these blatant errors stick out like sore thumbs and come across like a slap in the face. It just shows that these bad tribute bands are lazy in their research and seem to be only out to make a quick buck because ABBA happens to be popular again.
Now what separates Arrival from these kinds of bands is the level of detail they’ve engaged in to create the most authentic ABBA experience possible. Arrival is the only tribute band who’s sought out ABBA’s original costume designer, Owe Sandström, to supervise the recreation of several of ABBA’s original costumes. They’ve painstakingly gone to trouble to examine the original costumes to aid in the recreation process. And they’ve recreated several of the costumes ABBA used and change throughout the show.
Also, Arrival has done their homework, not only do the right “character” sing the correct songs, they incorporated a few album tracks that are more than just the biggest hits. Because they’re from Sweden, their Swedish accents are real, and it really does seem to make a big difference in getting the right ABBA sound (especially when they perform a song in Swedish). They also have gone to the trouble to research the live performances of ABBA, which had some significant differences compared to the album versions of the songs, so when Arrival performs a song live, its arranged as authentically to how ABBA did it when they toured. They’ve also researched the proper choreography and it shows. They’ve also invited original ABBA musicians to come out on tour and play as they had done when they toured with ABBA.
This attention to detail not only has paid off in creating one of the best ABBA tribute shows available, but they were even granted special permission from the real Björn and Benny to arrange and release a song that ABBA never officially released for themselves. The song is called “Just A Notion” and a snippet of ABBA’s original demos for the song appears on ABBA’s “Thank You For The Music” Box set. And so it makes it extra special to be the group Björn and Benny have given their blessing to release this gem from the ABBA vaults.
So if you get a chance to see Arrival, make sure you grab a ticket because you’ll be in for the BEST ABBA concert you’ll ever see. It’ll be the most like the real thing you’ll ever get a chance to see. In fact, ABBA experts on Swedish radio were unable to tell the difference between live recordings of ABBA and live recordings of Arrival when they were challenged to identify which group was which. They have some sound and video samples up on their webpage at http://www.arrival.se that are well worth checking out.
For those in Southern California, you have a chance to catch Arrival perform on October 12th, 2008 at The Grove in Anaheim. Click the TicketMaster graphic below to search for tickets to this show or other TicketMaster shows. I’m going to be there because Arrival was so good when I saw them over the weekend, I have to see them again while I have a chance to.