Mamma Mia, ABBA’s Back!

Have you heard the news? After a 40-year absence, ABBA is back!

Well, kind of.

The men and women of ABBA, now in their 70s, have turned down millions for a reunion tour. Instead, they’ve created a virtual concert featuring their holographic images, or ‘Abbatars’. The group spent six weeks performing on a sound stage, wearing motion-capture suits. The technical wizardry is spectacular, courtesy of ILM, George Lucas’ special effects company.

The result is a 90-minute pseudo-concert called Voyage. It debuted in London last week. The four members of ABBA (Sven, Thor, Hilga & Bruce) are projected on huge screens and perform as if it was a live show. The crowd can get up and boogie on a massive dance floor. Here’s a clip.

The concept isn’t new. We’ve seen 3D hologram shows with artists from Elvis to Tupac. But Voyage takes it to another level.

Will this be a novelty, or will the concept stick?

By all accounts, tickets are selling like hot, buttered crumpets. So, the concept could be groundbreaking for fans who care more about the experience than the authenticity of a live show. They will have the time of their lives digging the Dancing Queen.

Meanwhile, ABBA hopes to recoup the $175 million spent to recreate their live show and construct a custom 3,000 seat arena in London.

Here’s my take. ABBA walked away from a massive audience, leaving fans hungry for more. This is just a money grab. Seats closest to the screen cost nearly $500. For a movie!

What a slap in the face to loyal fans.

ABBA has launched a trial balloon for the live music industry. They’re testing the future for when stars can’t tour anymore. But for us music snobs, this feels artificial. Just enhanced music videos with cool lighting. You can’t fake the passion and spontaneity of a live show. And it lacks the thrill of seeing a band in your town.

I applaud the imagination. But a hologram concert is unfulfilling – and a bit creepy.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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