Abba came to Beeston on Saturday 5th May. I know because I was there along with a whole bunch of singing enthusiasts at John Clifford School. I also know because I saw Agnetha coming towards me – but then I realised it was a mirror (you know – one of those mirrors that distorts and ages!).
Consultation between singers and the band resulted in a full-on blast of Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, The Winner Takes it All, Thank You for the Music and Supertrouper. I know I bang on a lot in these blogs about the privilege of singing with such a talented bunch of musicians, well, the Abba experience was enhanced a trillion-million times by the guys, with lots of opportunities for keyboard and guitar brilliance. And also some weird photo opportunities.
Have I gone a bit hyper? Maybe it’s the sun and too many iced Americanos. But no! It is true!! And you can always tell how enthusiastic Simon is by the number and height of his leaps into the air in the loud bits!
I was talking to a fellow singer about ‘The Winner Takes it All’ and the raw emotion in the words. When you hear it on the radio or when you do a singalong, you don’t always get a chance to take in the words. This is such an emotional song and when you watch the You Tube video of Agnetha singing, you appreciate some of the intensity. At ECS workshops, we get a chance to break down the song and perhaps, gain more understanding of what lies behind a cracking tune. The light and dark, quiet and loud, which Simon introduces into the singing is such a great way of feeling the mood of a song.
Supertrouper is always a favourite because of its chorus, but again, the words are quite anguished. I will tell you an anecdote which I have already told to West Bridgford Social Singers, as we sing this song as well. Until I sang the song with the words in front of me, I have always thought that they were singing ‘When I rang you last night from Tesco’. It came as quite a surprise to me to see that it is actually Glasgow. Makes much more sense. I don’t suppose Bjorn and Benny spend a lot of time in Tesco as a rule. Of course, now, I can’t sing it without inwardly saying Tesco and if you see me smirking at that point, you know why!
Abba songs are also so great for dancing. It’s funny that when you watch the videos of Abba singing in the 80s, they don’t actually move a lot. The girls have a kind of routine of shuffles, pointing and turning and the boys, of course, are attached to their instruments. But when you have a room full of people singing Dancing Queen, nobody can keep still. You are impelled to wave your arms, grab your spoon microphone, clap your hands and do wild (and often weird) body movements. The rhythm of life! And some people in the room, including our own special couple, turned into Abba at some point in the afternoon!
I guess we also are now influenced by the musical and the film, so when Mamma Mia or Dancing Queen comes on the radio, we can imagine Meryl, Julie and Christine throwing themselves around on a Greek island. Well I can, anyway – I’m always Donna, because she wears cool dungarees. Can’t wait for ‘Mamma Mia Here We Go Again’ (choir outing for the summer?) Apparently it is released at end of July and three of the songs are ‘Angel Eyes’, ‘I Wonder’ and ‘When I Kissed the Teacher’.
So all in all, a wonderful afternoon to see us into the summer and to give us happy memories until we meet again in July.