ABBA no longer tours, but Grand Rapids Symphony comes close with 'Music of ABBA' for 2017 Picnic Pops opener, July 13-14

In 2000, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad were offered $1 billion to return to the stage.

Though one of their hit songs was Money, Money, Money, members of ABBA turned down the offer from a British-American consortium to reunite for a 100-city tour.

“It's a hell of a lot of money to say no to, but we decided it wasn't for us,” Andersson told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet in 2000.

Twelve years later, Fältskog told the Radio Times of London, “We said no because they wanted 250 shows or something, it was incredible,” she said. “No chance. We had done it.”

Never mind that they’re very much alive and continuing their own musical pursuits, you’ll never again hear ABBA on stage. But with Arrival from Sweden, you’ll come close.

The ensemble joins the Grand Rapids Pops for the opening of the 2017 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops on Thursday and Friday, July 13-14.

Tickets for The Music of ABBA start at $19 for adults, $16 for college students and seniors, and $5 for ages 2-18 for lawn seats. Call (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 for tickets.

Grand Rapids Symphony’s Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be on the podium to lead Arrival and the Grand Rapids Symphony in such songs as Dancing Queen, Gimme Gimme and Take A Chance on Me.

Arrival last was in Grand Rapids five years ago in February 2012 at the Van Singel Fine Arts Center. But with the Grand Rapids Symphony on stage, ABBA’s pop melodies, lush harmonies and slick arrangements on songs such as Fernando, Knowing Me Knowing You and SOS and will be even better.

Gates at Cannonsburg Ski Area open at 5:45 p.m. each night for picnicking and pre-concert entertainment, including free, kid-friendly activities such as face painting, crafts, and a musical instrument petting zoo.

Pack your own picnic baskets and coolers or purchase food from the grill at the Cannonsburg concession stand. Alcoholic beverages are permitted on the grounds, and parking is free for concertgoers.

ABBA, organized in Stockholm in 1972, rocketed to fame after winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with their song, Waterloo. In 2005 at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest, that song was chosen as the best song in the competition’s history.

During the 1970s, ABBA was the most commercially successful pop group of the decade. Ultimately, the Swedish super group enjoyed 25 Top 40 hits including songs that reached No. 1 throughout the world.

Their music would sell 500 million records and counting becoming one of the best-selling groups of all time along with such bands as The Beatles, Queen and the Rolling Stones.

Years later, ABBA music inspired such films as Muriel’s Wedding in 1994, in the musical Mamma Mia! that debuted in 1999, and which later was made into a film of the same name, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Bronson, released in 2008.

In 2010 ABBA was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Arrival has been in business for longer than ABBA itself. Twice as long, in fact.

ABBA flourished for 10 years from 1972 to 1982, but Arrival has been recreated the music of the Swedish super group for more than 20 years.

As many as eight members of Arrival’s 12-piece band played with ABBA itself back in the day.

Since 1995, Arrival has toured more than 48 countries including 50 U.S. tours, and has appeared with dozens of symphony orchestras.

In June, Arrival sold out the famed Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre near Denver, where Elvis Presley, the Beatles, U2, and many other recording artists have appeared, for the ninth time since 2007.

Though ABBA never officially disbanded, Anderson and Ulvaeus both say recent reincarnation of their music has been successful because the group never reunited.

“We have never made a comeback,” Ulvaeus told Aftonbladet in 2000. “Almost everyone else has. I think there's a message in that.”

Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at 7:00 AM
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