‘Can you hear the drums. Fernando?‘
As the first note sounds. those in the know reach fortheir lighters. By the end ofthe introduction. the rest ofthe audience has caught on. Soon. the dancefloor is ablaze with the light of waving sparklers. Forget the fire-regulations. folks. let's sway...
‘We ii'ereyoung undfu/l of/i/e and none ofus could hear I() die. '
Those that didn‘t know are left feeling decidedly out of it. They make a mental note to remember to bring sparklers next time. and maybe a satin head-band as well.
‘ There was something in the air that night
The stars were brig/II. [’1']? NA .\'[)().’ '
Bjorn Again concert. you see. is all about knowing. Knowing that you light your sparkler when the band sings ‘liernando'. Knowing that you throw chocolate coins during ‘Money Money Money". And Knowing Me. Knowing You. there is nothing we can do. . .
The more clued—up members of the audience have the dance routines offpat. The others soon learn. Through ‘Ring Ring‘. ‘S()S‘ and ‘Mamma Mia‘. hands are raised high. fingers twirled and fists punched into the air. But all this really proves is that nobody is quite sure about the correct moves. At Bjorn Again concerts. 7(ls disco dancing is a forgotten art. lurking deep in the collective subconscious. pushing its way to the surface as the band go into ‘Friday night and the lights are low. . .’
Bjorn Again. despite those impeccable Nordic complexions. come not from downtown Stockholm. but from Australia. where lookalike bands are a staple part of the live music scene. Down Under. they play to audiences of more than 2000. and their fans follow them all over the country. Some people have seen them more than lllll times. In Glasgow recently (remember that line ‘When I called you last night from Glasgow?) at KingTuts Wah Wah l lut. advance word was so good that they had to rearrange their schedule to play two concerts in one night. reaching more than 600 people.
On stage. with the lights from the Super Troupers glistening off the silver satin. it‘s a moving evocation of the decade taste forgot as Bjorn. Benny and the girls model a
Modern-day King Canutes tried to avert the inevitable. but to no avail. Abba are more popular than at any time since their heyday. And who have we principally to thank? None other than BJORN AGAIN who. as Richard Griffiths found out. are the reincarnation of Sweden‘s greatest export.
L , . . __._, 10'l‘he List 30 August -- 12 September 1991
succession of7()s glam rock fashions: shining silver suits with sequinned boob tubes. satin hot pants. platform shoes and flared trousers .. . only their hair looks suspect. Benny clearly has a real beard. but Agnetha‘s blonde pony tail hangs down limp and lifeless. and Bjorn would be well advised to stay indoors on windy days if he‘s going to insist on perching that silver mop on his head.
But they play it perfectly. The two emotionless singers Frida and Agnetha dance like robots in the centre ofthe stage. Benny thumps away at his keyboard. hitting the occasional wrong note to prove he’s playing live. Bjorn. on guitar. only moves to look deep into Agnetha’s eyes during the love songs. Romance goes down a storm with a Bjorn Again crowd. as any signs of affection between the two couples are greeted with roars of approval. And when Benny whips off his skimpy jacket and twirls it high above his head during ‘Rock Me‘. the mania reaches almost uncontainable proportions.
Back in the dressing room. winding down from a frenzy of adoration and screams for ‘Money. Money. Money". they talk with that lilting accent and dodgy grasp ofsyntax that is the staple of those of us who can do passing imitations of Swedish accents. Their story is a tragic one.
’There was a terrible helicopter crash .' recounts Bjorn. ‘We woke up on an island and could not remember anything ofour past except these songs. A man found us and said we must be Abba.‘
The other band members back him up. claiming that all they found was the helicopter. some platform shoes and a guitar. The sparkling golden sand gave them the idea for the glittery clothes. ‘It was near Melbourne.‘ warbles Frida. ‘lt will be remembered as Fernando lsland.‘
Dredging their collective memory. they came up with the lyrics to a score of Abba hits. and the rest is pop history. After two and a half years building a loyal following in Australia. they decided to come to Britain ‘to spread a little love'. ‘A lot of British have seen us in Australia.‘ says Frida. ‘They said we should come over and stay in their houses.‘
The band came to Glasgow ‘to spread the
Despite being Australian.
‘ l l i