ABBA rocked some ‘out there’ costumes in their prime. From storming the Brighton Dome Eurovision stage in a hotch-potch of satin, sequins and silver boots, they have, with a charming sense of fun, managed to style out the shiny bell bottoms, knee-length platforms, bat-wing catsuits, animal print kimonos and, in Bjorn’s case, a pair of very unforgiving white dungarees.

But even with those enviable age-defying Scandinavian genes, the Super Swedes look rather silly and awkward in their weird digi-group comeback photo.

Abba first revealed plans for a hologram tour a couple of years ago, and even though I’m a lifelong fan, the prospect left me cold. Now they have unveiled a digital concert show - featuring ‘Abba-tar’ versions of themselves - along with their first album in nearly 40 years.


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The one group we never thought would reunite has finally done just that, to film a performance featuring their younger selves. Holograms of Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha and Ann-Frid performing songs from their back catalogue will appear with a live 10-piece band at a purpose-built site in London next year. The ‘Abba-tars’ were created through months of motion-capture and performance techniques with the four band members and an 850-strong team from George Lucas’s company Industrial Light and Magic.

The Abba Voyage concept was released with striking avatars of the band illuminating the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as part of a series of “spectacular global moments”. I guess an Abba comeback was never going to be subtle.

And still it leaves me cold. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll probably go and see the show. I mean, it’s Abba, right? Except it isn’t - and it strikes me as a rather hollow venture that doesn’t really offer the fans much.

I’m sure the digital wizardry will be impressive, but it’s not a live performance. The singing has already been pre-recorded and since it will be a virtual Abba, rather than the actual Abba, on stage there will be no interaction with the audience, none of the spontaneity and joy of a live concert. Won’t it just feel like watching a giant 3D video? It would probably be more fun watching an Abba tribute act, even a bad one, and I’ve seen plenty of those over the years.

From what the band has indicated, the Abba reunion has been a happy experience - not that you’d know it from the rather strained facial expressions above - but it’s something we fans could have done without. I don’t see much dignity in re-inventing yourself as an avatar in your 70s.

Even less dignity when the virtual artist is deceased. An Evening with Whitney Houston featured a singing hologram of the star, like an awkward ghost on stage. Other dead acts who’ve re-appeared in virtual form include Michael Jackson, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly and Tupac Shakur. I find it disrespectful, and creepy. Is there not an ethics issue with creating entertainment holograms of people who are no longer here and have no say in how their image is used? It’s a soulless business - literally.

What next? Virtual football matches played by holograms of Stanley Matthews, Bobby Moore and George Best?

Abba’s new songs, all disco beats and orchestral swells, look promising; “The harmonies, thumping chords, trading lines, the melancholy of old lovers coming face to face again, and the irresistible urge to dance - it’s classic Abba,” said one critic.

Thank You For The Music and all that, but when it comes to the performance, I’d rather remember Abba as the Super Troupers they were.