Tag Archives: ABBA

Arrival Brings A Touch Of Sweden To The San Diego County Fair

Arrival at the San Diego County FairI think in large part due to the phenomenal success of “Mamma Mia! The Movie” last summer which was released shortly after last year’s San Diego County Fair concluded, the organizers of the San Diego County Fair thought it fitting to bring in an ABBA tribute band as a headlining act for the 2009 San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Fortunately the organizers picked what I consider to be the world’s best ABBA tribute band out there. That tribute band is Arrival, who like ABBA, also originate from Sweden and the show Arrival is touring under is called “The Music Of ABBA”.

Headed by Vicky Zetterberg (who portrays Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad) and joined by Jenny Gustafsson (who portrays Agnetha Fältskog), Arrival brought a wonderful touch of Sweden to San Diego, not once, but twice with two shows on July 2, 2009. The afternoon show began at 2pm and while the program states the afternoon concerts are hour long shows, Arrival played for a full two hours bringing a complete ABBA show to those down at the fair early enough to catch the afternoon show. I was personally fighting with traffic and the whole mess with parking so I didn’t make it to the Heineken Grandstand Stage until 2:30pm but I did get there. Arrival were performing “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” as I arrived.

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Warner Bros. Fails To Deliver In Online Purchase

Warner Bros LogoWarner Bros., normally the producer of great entertainment in everything from movies to music releases, has royally annoyed me when I elected to purchase the CHESS IN CONCERT Deluxe Edition, available exclusively from them at Chess.WarnerBrosRecords.com. Warner Bros. is also selling the sets through the stores on official webpages for both Josh Groban and Idina Menzel (both are powered by WarnerBrosRecords.com). The exclusive version of the “Chess In Concert” set in addition to packaging together the 2-CD version of the recording with the DVD version of the show in a special package and includes as bonuses sheet music for the songs “Anthem” and “I Know Him So Well” and the deluxe set is limited to 3,000 copies world wide.

As the set was not originally scheduled to be released until June 30th, well after the June 16th release date of the standard versions, Warner Bros. also is including as part of the package, the ability to download the 2 CDs digitally on the June 16th release date. However, just prior to the 16th, the release date for the deluxe package has been shifted to July 21st, with Warner Bros claiming that the materials won’t be fully ready to meet the original release date.

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CHESS In Concert DVD & CDs Available Tuesday

Chess In ConcertIf you think the only musical theatre entry of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA is MAMMA MIA!, you’d be wrong. Shortly after the last songs of ABBA’s catalogue were completed, the members of ABBA decided to take a break from the group, and Björn & Benny decided to try their hand at writing a musical. Tim Rice, well known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, was in the market for new composers to work with for his idea of building a musical around the idea of a Chess championship. After having met Björn & Benny and deciding to work together, the process of bringing Chess to life was born.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice established a successful formula of trying out the songs from shows they wrote in a “Concept Album” format that got released to the public long before a staged version of the show got made. This methodology was an invaluable way to see if the songs were good enough to warrant the time and expense of launching a full scale musical. Instead of going to the expense of launching a full show, it’s a chance to release the album to the public and see if it generates enough interest. If the album tanks, a fortune has been saved, and if it succeeds, then it creates an audience for the show when it gets launched.

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Arrival – World’s Best ABBA Tribute Band Comes To San Diego County Fair

Ryan Cameron Meets Arrival in Anaheim, October 12, 2008Arrival, the world’s best ABBA Tribute Band, brings the magic of ABBA to San Diego during the San Diego County Fair. They will be performing live on Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar with two shows, one in the afternoon at 2 pm and again at 7:30 pm. The 2 pm show is general admission for all seats (included in the price of admission to the fair) and the 7:30 pm show includes general admission seats, with premium reserved seats being sold additionally through TicketMaster by clicking here. TicketMaster seats include admission to the fair.

How good is Arrival at recreating the experience of an ABBA live concert? Well as the unofficial expert on ABBA Tribute Bands, I have actually written an article about the eight most annoying things that ABBA tribute bands get wrong. To read the article, click here. Arrival is the only ABBA tribute band I’ve seen so far that has gets everything right. I’ve seen a couple that come close to getting them all right, but Arrival is the only one hands down that gets it completely right. They are the closest thing to the real deal you’re ever going to find and I’m very happy to extend my seal of approval to Arrival.

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ABBA: Let The Music Speak Is An Amazing Book

ABBA Let The Music SpeakThe most amazing book about ABBA’s music is the one called “ABBA: Let The Music Speak” by Christopher Patrick. This book which is subtitled, “An Armchair Guide To The Musical Soundscape Of The Swedish Supergroup” is exactly that in that Christopher Patrick is a musician and he is able to musically guide us through every song in the ABBA catalog from the perspective of a musician. Everything you could possibly want to know about the construction of an ABBA song musically is there.

For a while in the late 1970’s ABBA had shot ahead of the Beatles in terms of record sales, but John Lennon’s death quickly reversed that temporary unseating of the Beatles as best selling act of all time. Despite this achievement, ABBA’s purely Swedish Pop is often not given the same credibility as the Beatles achievement. Their music is often considered lightweight and bubblegum compared to the works of the Beatles. It hardly seems like a fair comparison. In fact at the time the Beatles overtook Elvis Presley as the largest selling act of all time, John Lennon was asked who he thought might overtake the Beatles and he stated, ABBA.

Mountains of books have been written about the musical genius of John Lennon and Paul McCartney all lavishing praise. And yet until now, few books have been written about the works of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, who arguably have written comparable songs to those of Lennon and McCartney. Unfortunately praising ABBA had a heavy stigma for years in both the media and in the public at large that it really seemed that ABBA wasn’t going to get the respect it deserves.

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The Stockholm Syndrome: Is America Becoming Like Sweden?

Stockholm SyndromeWith the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States, and the election of the most liberal congress in many years, the concern is that socialistic government ideas are going to be making their way to America and turning America into another Sweden. Sweden is one of the most highly taxed nations in the world and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” a politically minded show with a strong emphasis on the comedy of it, takes a satirical look at what they dubbed, “The Stockholm Syndrome.”

To accomplish this task of seeing out the differences between America’s traditionally capitalistic society and it’s proposed future as a socialistic society, the Daily Show sent “reporter” Wyatt Cenac to Stockholm to explore socialism. In the process he meets up with Swedish people for interviews on the street, interviews of conditions in the factory of a Swedish truck manufacturer as well as government officials and Swedish pop stars Robyn and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA. The topics include health care and high taxation. There’s even an amusing surprise revelation at the end of this two part report.

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Per Gessle’s “Party Crasher” Always Welcome At My Parties

Per Gessle - Party CrasherPer Gessle, who is best known as being the primary songwriting force behind Roxette, released a brand new solo album in Europe at the end of 2008 called, “Party Crasher.” This is his first English language solo album since his 2005 experimental solo album released under the artist name “Son Of A Plumber.” Prior to the “Son Of A Plumber” album, Per Gessle’s last English solo album was 1997’s “The World According to Gessle.”

I recently added the new “Party Crasher” album to my collection and while I was uploading it to my iPod, I was struck with a sense of nostalgia as I was thinking about how long music written by Per Gessle has been a part of my life. With 2009 being a significant year in that it has been 20 years since I got my very first Roxette album, the “Look Sharp!” album. I had to smile because my first Roxette album was bought for me, and I didn’t honestly want it. My mother bought it on the recommendation of my brother as something he thought I would like, and I rudely said that I didn’t want it, but my mother insisted I try it, and it ended up being such a good album that I played it to death. I loved the album so much that when Roxette’s next album, “Joyride” was released I was both excited about it’s release but really scared that I might not like it as much as the first.

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Elaine Paige Interviews ABBA’s Benny & Björn on BBC Radio 2

Elaine Paige BBC Radio 2Elaine Paige, often dubbed, “The First Lady Of British Theatre,” for her impressive stage career as one of Britain’s musical theatre stars. Some of the highlights of her career include being the first woman to star as Eva Peron in “Evita” and was the first to ever belt out the song “Memory” from London’s stages in “Cats.”

In addition to her stage career, she hosts a BBC Radio 2 program highlighting music from theatrical shows. On the April 5, 2009 broadcast to mark the 10th anniversary of “Mamma Mia!” on London’s West End, Elaine interviewed Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus ABBA to talk about “Mamma Mia!” as well as 25th Anniversary of “Chess” (Benny and Björn’s musical from the 1984 that they co-wrote with Tim Rice and coincidentally also starred Elaine Paige). Elaine joined Benny and Björn at Benny’s Mono Music Studio in Stockholm for the interview portion of the program.

In addition to spending time discussing both “Mamma Mia!” and “Chess” with the boys from ABBA, Elaine also got them to discuss their other musical “Kristina Från Duvemåla.” which up until now has only been in Swedish. One of the highlights from the discussion was the first presentation of “Du Måste Finnas” in English as performed by Helen Sjöholm, who played Kristina in the original Swedish cast. In English, the song is entitled, “You Have To Be There” and the lyrics were said to be a draft version and are not yet set in stone as the final version of it. If everything goes according to plan, New York audiences will be treated to a concert version of the new English translation of the show on September 23 and 24th at Carnegie Hall.

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RENT Gets Paid In San Diego With Anthony Rapp And Adam Pascal

RENT Tour With Adam Pascal & Anthony RappOn March 11th, I caught “The Broadway Tour” of Jonathan Larson’s Epic masterpiece, RENT, hit San Diego’s Civic Theatre. I went with my friend Louie Taylor. Part of the main reason I wanted to go see RENT was because the main draw of the tour is that it has been billed as featuring original cast members, Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal who would be reprising their roles as Mark and Roger respectively. An unadvertised bonus is that another original cast member, Gwen Stewart, is also reprising her role in the tour as one of the ensemble players as a variety of characters and featured solo vocalist during “Seasons Of Love.”

As the first tour since RENT closed on Broadway in September 2008, it seems all the more poignant to see such a high profile tour with Original cast members Rapp and Pascal on board. They’re no strangers to coming back to the roles that made them Broadway stars as they both were part of the original workshop shows, transferred the show to Broadway and then later to London, then recreated their roles in the film version of RENT in 2005, and then for a limited engagement in Summer 2007 returned to Broadway according to BroadwayWorld.com. These roles have been a part of their lives off and on for the last 15 years. In the interview in the Playbill handed out at the performance Adam Pascal suspects “when we’re done with this tour, I have a strong suspicion that this will be it for me and RENT. At some point I am going to be too old to do the part.”

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“Absolutely Fabulous” Send Up of Mamma Mia! The Movie

Mamma Mia! Parody With Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, and Joanna LumleyMy friend Merrick Wolfe, who served as the Company Manager for the Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia! at the Mandalay Bay for the first year of the production, always thought that the roles of Rosie and Tanya for a film version of the movie should be played by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders of the British comedy team, French & Saunders. Merrick thought this long before a filmed version of Mamma Mia! was ever set to become a reality.

Well Mamma Mia! The Movie swept the world last year with Julie Walters and Christine Baranski in the roles, but now Merrick has sort of gotten his wish in that, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, have chosen to do a send up of Mamma Mia! The Movie for the BBC’s annual Red Nose Day fundraiser celebration. They also drafted Jennifer Saunder’s partner in crime from her hit BBC series “Absolutely Fabulous”, Joanna Lumley, and have created a brilliant send up of Mamma Mia! The Movie. Dawn French plays Julie Walters in her role as Rosie, as Merrick had wished so long ago. However his desire to see Jennifer Saunders as Tanya, didn’t quite pan out exactly. Here Jennifer sends up Meryl Streep in the role of Donna, and Joanna Lumley comes in to play Christine Baranski as Tanya. Continue reading “Absolutely Fabulous” Send Up of Mamma Mia! The Movie