Chris High reviews Abba Mania on

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Chris High reviews: The Liverpool Empire performance of Abba Mania 2006


Carley Broom, Mark Thomas, Gareth Kedwood, Jennifer Robb, Gregory Evans, Luke Bradshaw, Ryan Aston

Producers: Handshake Ltd
Liverpool Empire Theatre
August 10th, 2006

Abba Mania:  promotional image

Review of ABBA MANIA
from Liverpool Empire Theatre

Some bands have music that will live forever and in many guises. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, and McFly to name but a few. Okay, maybe not the last one, but certainly the former three, all of whom have many tribute bands and stage plays giving their songs an airing at regular intervals. Another such band of immense and everlasting popularity is Abba, the Swedish Pop-Meisters who rocked the world – literally – throughout the seventies and early to mid eighties.

After a lengthy run in London’s West End, Handshake Ltd decided it was time for this out and out tribute to hit the road and tour Europe. The acclaim has been spontaneous and loud and, on this evidence, justified.

Espousing everything that tribute bands claim not to be – that is to say “we’re not here to be them but to keep the music alive”, Broom (Agnetha), Thomas (Bjorn), Kedward (Benny) and Robb (Anni-Frid) came on stage dressed as the stars themselves, right down to the skin tight aqua coloured spray on leggings, black pantaloons and silver platform soled boots … and outrageous hairstyles.

The audience went nuts and, even halfway through the opening number of Waterloo, it was clear that these were to be no pale imitations.

Note perfect both musically and vocally, the band were ably supported by a fine band with Gregory Evans (Bass), Ryan Aston (Drums) and Luke Bradshaw (Guitar) all fitting into their roles with outstanding and well honed ease.

All the hits were here as one might expect. Knowing Me, Knowing You, I Do, I Do, I Do, Fernando, Money, Money, Money – during which the band sprayed the audience with chocolate commemorative coins - and Take A Chance On Me all taking second place during a delightful first half to Carley Bloom’s version of I’ve Been Waiting For You which was sung as faultlessly as the real Agnetha would have performed it in her hey-day.

So the second half rolled around and, as is usual with look alike / sound alike acts, the band were reliant on the audience to lend a hand. This being Liverpool, they weren’t disappointed and rarely has it been that such gusto has been displayed in honour of a tribute band. Throughout Part Two, everybody was on their feet, dancing and clapping away to Lay All Your Love On Me, The Name Of The Game, The Winner Takes It All, Super Trouper and a really fun, rousing version of Does Your Mother Know. Highlights of this section, however, were reserved for the final three numbers; Gimme, Gimme, Gimme which may now be better remembered as the tag for Madonna’s smash it single Hung Up from 2005, Dancing Queen and Thank You For The Music which yet again was sung faultlessly by Broom.

This show is a total nostalgia and should be embraced as such. That it holds so much talent and warmth is one of the reasons it works so well, but the other is the whole-heartedness of its performers from back to front of stage.

This is a superb evening’s entertainment and one that should not be missed, whether you are an ardent Abba fan, or not.


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
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