Gimme, gimme, gimme... more of Abba!

Reporter: Marina Berry
Date published: 30 December 2010

The Songs of ABBA, Live, Halle Orchestra, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.

The Halle Orchestra turned Abba tribute band last night for a show which had its audience dancing in the aisles.

Arranged around a central six-piece rhythm section, the orchestra paled into the background as drums, keyboards and electric guitars banged out the tunes for hit after hit from this phenomenally successful group.

The musicians did a wonderful job in setting the scene, dressed in 1970s fashions and sporting fuzzy black wigs, long blonde hairpieces and jet black moustaches.

And it was all glitter, sparkle and platforms for the four vocalists, Annie Skates, Emma Kershaw, Lance Ellington and David Combes, who were gloriously clad in some cracking costumes which brought many a titter and would have done Abba proud in its heyday.

It may be true that all that glitters is not gold, but Abba certainly had the Midas touch, after they shot to fame courtesy of the Eurovision Song Contest, and went on to sell 360 million records over three decades.

And the well-known lyrics to all 18 songs in yesterday’s concert reminded us just how much of a household name they were — and still are.

“Waterloo”, “The Winner Takes it All”, “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia”, “Fernando”— you name them, they were all there, given life by a rousing performance from strong vocalists who together make up “Capital Voices”.

I would have liked to have heard a little more of the orchestra we had gone to hear, with the strings being virtually drowned out by the rhythm band, and only the brass and percussion standing any chance of being heard.

But party mood reigned as the concert came to an end, and conductor Stephen Bell teased a couple more hits out for an encore which ended with many of us undoubtedly making the journey home humming some of our personal favourites from an era gone by, but which still makes for a cracking night out.