It feels like we have had ABBA in our lives forever really. They may have broken up many years ago but we continue to experience their music fairly consistently. Their undeniably catchy pop tunes continue to be played on the radio and most of us will also have experienced a ‘Dancing Queen’ moment (haven’t we?) at a wedding or family party. We have had ‘Mamma Mia’ the Stage musical and also the film. We have even recently had ABBA themselves appear as holograms with new music.
However, it has to be said that the mainstay of keeping ABBA ‘alive’ for the fans are actually the tribute acts. Having seen several ABBA Tribute Acts over the years I was intrigued to see what ABBA ‘Revival’ had to offer and was not disappointed in the least.
ABBA Revival consist of Lisa Reilly as ‘Anni Frid’, John Reilly as ‘Benny’, Nina Marie Johnson as ‘Agnetha’ and Marcus Tate as ‘Bjorn’ and are so impressive that you instantly want to believe that they are actually ABBA themselves. The thing is you can to some degree believe this because this show is not simply about a ‘look alike’ group performing music from this fabulous band, they also take on individual persona of the various members of the group themselves. They become that particular personality right down to various personal attributes. The women were absolutely spot on in that Nina’s portrayal as ‘Agnetha’ was certainly more vivacious and energetic that ‘Anni Frid’ portrayed by Lisa, who had a serene calmness about her. John as ‘Benny’, for me, was the stand out likeness for having so many of this great man’s nuances and idiosyncrasies. His smile through a heavily bearded face, his stance at the piano and his interaction with the rest of the band was undeniably accurate.
The music was all wonderful but highlights for me were ‘Chiquitita’ and ‘Waterloo’. Vocals were clear and it must be said Benny’s solo could actually have been the man himself. Costumes were fabulous and finishing the set with the girls in gold lame dresses added to the detail of the stage set. They danced ‘classic’ ABBA dances- facing each other, backs to each other with large ABBA letters lit up at the back of the stage.
The audience was certainly appreciative of this magnificent Tribute Act and were dancing in their chairs and at the front of the stage quite early on during the first half. However there were many more audience members dancing by the second half (including the local Mayor!) You would be hard pushed not to clap, tap or move just a little to the music tonight.
ABBA Revival are up there with the best of them, they are more than a tribute act because they show utter respect for this timeless music and actually want you to believe that you are watching ABBA. The band themselves have identified that there is no margin for error by being in one of the most popular bands ever- and this is what I believe keeps them head and shoulders above the rest. You need to work hard to be an ABBA tribute act as they are so well known and an audience will see through anything less.
I would urge you to watch Revival- even if you are sceptical about tribute bands- I guarantee you’ll be smiling by the end of the night. Several encores including ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ completed a fabulous night as the audience exited the theatre.
ABBA Revival are the sort of tribute act that ensure the story of this infamous pop group continues and never dies. It certainly seemed from the audience tonight that they were extremely thankful for the music.
Reviewer: Angela Kelly
Reviewed: 22nd June 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★★★