This detailed interactive exhibition effectively places the group’s music in context with the changing world in which they released their albums.
It has to be said that it takes a certain kind of magic for a group to hold onto its fans long after they have split up and Abba is one of the unique groups in which to do so. Today, their music is still proving to be as popular now as when they were together.
This immensely detailed and immersive exhibition is a chance to celebrate this – but by placing it in the context of what was happening in society and the world in general as each album was released, it adds a new and refreshing context to their music.
Taking visitors from how they first all met and got together right up until their split in 1983, Super Troupers the Exhibition is a lively and engaging display through a series of gorgeously designed rooms that really capture the spirit of the era and each album it reflects.
With the help of the multimedia guides handed to you as you walk in, it is possible to take in and find out as much as you want about the group – although the sheer volume of information, interviews and even the full albums available to listen to can be somewhat overwhelming. It is certainly ideal for the most devoted Abba fans and if you don’t find yourself singing along to some of the songs then something isn’t quite right!
Perhaps the only issue is the overload of sound as you wondering through – not only coming through your headphones but in each room in general, making it difficult in some places to understand what is being said. But it has to be said it is certainly atmospheric – particularly as you wonder through to a disco dancefloor that tempts you to dance or sit down and watch Abba’s Eurovision winning performance.
There is a time capsule quality to the whole exhibition and you really feel as though you are moving along with Abba through the years, complete with plenty of behind the scenes footage and costume designs for example. Yes, perhaps there is an emphasis on just how fantastic Abba were as a group as a form of escapism from the gloom of the 1970’s (which in all honesty reminded me just how gloomy the times are now) to the point that I couldn’t help but wonder if we all need more Abba in our lives now as a form of injecting our lives with happiness (the answer is of course yes!).
What also emerges from this exhibition is just how much high quality music that they consistently produced even away from their best known hits. I left the exhibition with a stronger appreciation for songs such as ‘People Need Love’ and ‘Nina Pretty Ballerina’ for example that made me feel I had deeper understanding for their music but also songwriting capabilities.
The overall atmosphere of the exhibition is a celebration, but it would have been lovely to have more detail given about their final album The Visitors that showed them taking a darker and more sombre approach to their music than previously. But determined to leave visitors on a high, the final room shows the love with a selection of some of the fan mail the group got sent alongside a replica of a superfan’s living room filled with Abba memorabilia that is incredible.
Overall, there is plenty to be enjoyed in this exhibition whether it is the creation of the albums or the context in which their music was released in that ensures you have a fabbalous time from start to finish!
By Emma Clarendon