ABBA Day took place on April 1st, 2017, in Roosendaal
Here is a report by Ian Cole from Australia.
After last year’s 30th anniversary celebrations in Stockholm, this year the ABBA Weekend returned to its regular format in the Fan Club’s hometown, Roosendaal. Fans started arriving as early as Thursday morning to prepare for the weekend’s celebrations.
However, most people arrived on Friday, in anticipation of the first scheduled event, the pub night with an ABBA quiz with lots of prizes and dancing to ABBA music until late. The quiz was, as always famously tricky, with some rather tough questions. All the questions were based around ABBA in 1977, commemorating the 40th anniversaries of the European and Australian concert tour, ABBA - The Movie and The Album.
Saturday was the main event - the International ABBA Day at Rottier. For many fans the day started early, joining together for breakfast and gatherings in hotels and cafés around town. Over 400 fans attended the ABBA Day this year. As always, the first part of the day was dedicated to the second hand market with all kinds of ABBA merchandise, from rare and hard-to-get records and CDs to photographs and magazine articles, and everything else you can imagine. It did not seem as manic as it had seemed in previous years to me - maybe because we are all getting older or because we have got almost everything that we want to collect. Still, I found a couple of LPs that I had been seeking out for decades at quite reasonable prices - the original edition of Frida’s 1971 debut album in gatefold sleeve (ironically, three weeks before its re-release for Record Store Day), and the Japanese Slipping Through My Fingers Coca-Cola edition.
As always, there were special guests with an ABBA connection. The first guest of the afternoon was British singer Susie Webb, singing songs from her new album Bossa Loves ABBA. Susie’s performance was well received, and she was available all afternoon, posing for photos and signing CDs.
This year’s major featured guest was Hans Löfvenberg who was Assistant Tour Manager on ABBA’s 1977 tour and who also worked on ABBA’s earlier European and Swedish folkpark tours. Hans shared some fascinating insider stories about ABBA’s spectacular concert tour of Europe and Australia. Having been lucky enough to attend ABBA’s first Australian concert - yes, the concert in the rain in Sydney - I was particularly interested in what he had to say about the Australian leg of the tour. You can read a more detailed report on Hans’ interview with Stany van Wijmeersch elsewhere in this issue. After the interview, Hans made himself available for photographs, autographs and talking to fans. He was very approachable and, later in the afternoon, I found myself chatting with him at length at the bar.
The final guest appearance was a recorded interview with director Lasse Hallström. Lasse talked at length about filming ABBA - The Movie during ABBA’s Australian tour. He also mentioned that he had recently met with Frida while he was working on his latest film, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, due out next year. A future issue of the magazine will include an extensive interview with Lasse. In between guests, a selection of videos were shown, with many rare television appearances by ABBA together and separate, and video highlights of last year’s ABBA Day celebrations in Stockholm, including Benny’s surprise appearance.
The back room of the venue hosted a display celebrating ABBA’s 1977 tour, including items on loan from Hans Löfvenberg, ABBA The Museum and Bonny vd Dobbelsteen, reproductions of Polar’s ABBA NEWS announcing the tour, ABBA - The Movie, and The Album and a display of artwork by Rune Söderqvist, similar to his designs for The Movie poster and The Album sleeve.
As always, there was a quiz with many fantastic prizes, including an official 2017 ABBA Calendar, and an Arrival - The Singles box set, both signed by Björn, Benny, Agnetha, and Frida. Like Friday night’s quiz and the display, the questions commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Australian concert tour.
At 7pm the final part of the day was introduced with the video of Matt Pop’s ABBARAMA remix medley leading into the disco. People were up and dancing from the first songs played and continued on right through to 11pm, when the night ended with the traditional forming of a circle and singing The Way Old Friends Do. There were tears in many eyes.
Not wanting to finish the night yet, many people returned to the pub for the after party, continuing to dance to ABBA’s music until the early hours of the morning. I wisely left at about 1am, in need of sleep after a fantastic day.
For the many who had not left Roosendaal on Saturday night or early Sunday morning, ABBA - The Movie was screened at the City Bioscope on Sunday morning at 11.15. The brand new 4K restoration looked brilliantly clear on the cinema screen, with vibrant colours and sharp images. Sadly, there are no plans to release this new restoration on DVD or Blu-ray.
The Movie had over 100 fans singing and clapping, and even reciting dialogue - it was great fun. I have seen The Movie at the cinema many times over the past 40 years, but it was bittersweet watching my hometown on a cinema screen on the other side of the world. Afterwards, it was time for goodbyes, and everyone started to make their way back home, “It’s a crazy thing you know, leaving everything.” For me, it is the social aspect that is a particular highlight, meeting old friends and making new friends. It sure was another successful, enjoyable and fun weekend.
Photos of the weekend can be found here.