bba have announced their first album of new material in 39 years and a London concert show featuring digital versions of themselves.
Speaking during a livestreamed press conference from the top of the Orbit sculpture at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London, band members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson said both projects would be called Abba Voyage.
Two new tracks, I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down, were also played publicly for the first time during the event.
The digital concert will open next May at the ABBA Arena, a state-of-the-art 3,000 capacity arena in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with tickets on general sale from Tuesday.
Asked why Abba had chosen London to host the show, Andersson said: “Because London is the best city to be in. When it comes to entertainment – theatre, musicals, concerts – it is all here. It has been here for years and years and years. There is a big audience travelling here for that reason. It was a no-brainer.”
Ulvaeus added: “We have always felt the Brits see us as their own.”
The concert will feature younger versions of the band performing songs from their back catalogue with a live 10-piece band.
The “Abba-tars” were created through months of motion-capture and performance techniques with the four band members and an 850-strong team from Industrial Light and Magic, the company founded by George Lucas, in its first foray into music.
The Swedish band – Ulvaeus, Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad – first revealed the existence of new music in 2018 and have been teasing an announcement in recent weeks.
Band member Bjorn Ulvaeus explained the meaning behind new song I Still Have Faith In You, saying: “It is about realising it is inconceivable to be where we are. No imagination can dream up that.
“To release an album after 40 years and still be the best of friends and enjoying each other’s company and still have total loyalty. Who has experienced that? Nobody.”
The show has been choreographed by Wayne McGregor who said he had first been “transported” by the band’s music growing up in the 1970s.
He said: “Fast forward to 2020, being in Sweden and dancing with ABBA – in real life! I was about to be 50 and I was totally transported again. That is the magic of ABBA. We have shared many creative and joyful adventures with a bold collaborative team to make the impossible possible for ABBA Voyage: technological wizardry, state of the art immersion and entertainment innovation. And still at its searing heart we simply have new songs, new moves, classic songs, classic moves: ABBA is DANCE and always will be. See you on the dancefloor”.
Attending in person, Ulvaeus and Andersson told how the album had emerged after the quartet reunited to film the digital concert.,
Their last album of new material, titled The Visitors, was released in November 1981 and they parted ways soon after, despite never officially splitting up.
Last month the band sparked excitement among fans as they launched a website called Abba Voyage, which asked fans to register on the landing page and teased: “The wait is nearly over…” and on Monday they joined social media site TikTok.
The pop group were catapulted to worldwide success after winning the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo when the event was held in Brighton in 1974.
They have since sold more than 400 million albums and singles.
The popular quartet parted ways after last performing together in 1982 following a successful 10-year stint.
In 2018 they announced they had recorded new material, but the release of the songs has been delayed.
The musical Mamma Mia!, based on their songs, premiered in London in 1999 and became a worldwide hit.
Two movie versions – Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – pulled in an A-list cast including Meryl Streep, Dame Julie Walters, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan.