ABBA’s virtual return to “live” performance
May 27, 2022 - Swedish pop sensation ABBA is returning to the stage as virtual avatars, digitally recreated to appear 40 years younger than they are today.
Computer graphic avatars of the four members of ABBA looking as they did in their prime, nicknamed “Abbatars”, are to feature in a new live concert experience in London, called “ABBA Voyage”.
The Abbatars, created by ILM (the special effects house originally built by George Lucas to realise his vision for Star Wars), will be projected into a custom-built 3,000-capacity arena on the site of the 2012 London Olympics, in the city’s East End.
Accompanying the virtual representations of Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida), Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus, will be a 10-piece live band. Together, they will perform 22 of the group’s greatest hits during a pop concert that will be repeated seven times a week.
To recreate a live stage presence, state-of-the-art computer animation will be projected into an auditorium using an update of an old Victorian parlour theatre called “Pepper’s Ghost”. The technique was popular in the 1800s for creating spectral apparitions, but has been used more recently at Disney’s Haunted Mansion theme park attraction.
Until now, the previously best known digital avatar stage performance was Michael Jackson’s appearance at the 2014 Billboard Music awards, five years after his death.
ABBA’s return is said to use a more advanced update of that technology, featuring clever use of lighting to help meld the projection, live performers, staging and audience together into a unique concert experience.
The shows are scheduled to begin on May 27, 2022, with ticket prices from an affordable £21 per person. ABBA’s first new album in 40 years, also titled ABBA Voyage, is released on November 5, 2021, featuring 10 new songs.