Reviewed at Easts Leagues Club
Back in the day, I considered ABBA to be a bit daggy, but like millions of others, I’m a convert.
ABBALANCHE is one of the three tribute bands I’ve now seen live.
This ABBA band has everything mixed up. Peter Watters, as Bjorn, is married to Lesley Watters who plays Frida. Lesley Watters is actually a blonde playing a brunette and, as the blonde Agnetha, Stephenie Brilley is really a brunette. Rounding out the four main characters is Bob Wheatley as Benny, who apparently doesn’t provide any confusion…or dialogue.
Mixed up or not, the combination worked brilliantly on the night that I saw them. It looked as if the solid wall of sound was designed by Peter Watters and bassist Simon Tonks. The songs seemed to be deservedly built around the incredible vocals of Stephenie Brilley. Her goosebump-inducing rendition of “The Winner Takes It All” was sublime. Brilley can really sell a song.
There was plenty of audience participation, which came with its own challenges. One stage volunteer clearly thought that she was star of the show, but the person who pulled focus without trying was a well-dressed ninety-six year-old woman who scaled the stairs to the stage and, led by Frida, followed the choreography to one of the songs.
All of your favourite ABBA songs were there as well as an ABBA-esque version of “Happy Birthday”. For some reason, they included a Metallica bit and The Village People’s “Macho Man”. Bjorn Again also strayed from their core business on the occasion that I saw them. Both bands might have included some variety for their own amusement. It might be interesting to see them perform other songs in the style of ABBA à la the various stylings of “Stairway to Heaven”, or even ABBA favourites in the style of other bands.
So, can any of the ABBA tribute bands be anywhere near as appealing as the group that inspired them?
The answer is a definite “no”, but if you want to see a really good band performing the popular songs, then ABBALANCHE is the best live performance I have seen in the genre.