21st Century ABBA – Review – Lotherton Hall
By Christine Goode, July 2023
On an English Summer evening we head in the relentless pouring down rain to the beautiful venue that is Lotherton Hall in Aberford, near Leeds. Despite the heavy weather the rain has not deterred people as we all head towards the arena, prepared in rain ponchos, with golf umbrellas, chairs, and picnics in tow; looking to find the best spot to watch the show and have a picnic. We are greeted by friendly enthusiastic staff who show us where to park and also into the arena, they are dancing along to the loud backing track and thankful so many have turned out to see tonight’s ABBA tribute show.
The legendary group famously came to the fore in 1974 when they won the Eurovision Song Contest, they continued to produce nine albums, with countless hits until they disbanded in December 1982. ABBA are amongst the bestselling music artists in history, with global record sales of 385 million. Their legacy remains as radio stations continue to play their music on a daily basis, people still flock to see Mamma Mia! the Musical, which is now performed in 16 different languages!
Most recently the groundbreaking new, one-of-its-kind, spectacular ‘ABBA Voyage’ opened in London in May 2022. With this history and so many amazing hits it is no wonder that there are multiple tribute bands on the circuit.
21st Century ABBA have no support act – due to the huge array of hit songs they could not get through all of them in one evening. We are straight into to the show, with the original soundtrack commentary playing from the Eurovision Song Contest. The band come out, start playing a recognizable introduction and then burst into the winning song, ‘Waterloo’. This sets the tone for the rest of the evening as we are up dancing straight away. Hit after hit, everyone is singing along, ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Fernando’, ‘Voulez Vous’, ‘Chiquitita’, ‘Angel Eyes’, the list goes on.
The band have an uncanny look of the supergroup, with matching costumes and at least five quick changes all similar to the ones worn in the original videos by ABBA, along with matching choreography as they sing. No backing tracks here! Excellent musicians play live throughout evening; the quality of sound is great. As the evening darkens, we also see the lights set at the back bringing a real disco feel to the event.
The interval of over 45 minuntes loses momentum somewhat and and is far too long for the cold and wet weather conditions, however; when the band return the atmosphere soon picks up. They encourage us again to get up and dance, then for the encore, we sing my favourite: ‘Thank You For The Music’ and are treated to the quintessential ‘Dancing Queen’ and finally ending with a reprise of ‘Waterloo’. At the end everybody returns to their cars still singing and, if they are like us, play ABBA hits all the way home.