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Jul 16

RAW: ABBA World – Melbourne – To End Oct

Elitists may cringe at the thought that such a topic be a major exhibition but given their role in world music in the 1970s and 80s and in various guises since, ABBA makes for a fascinating revisit.

This exhibition in Federation Square, in the old Racehorse Hall of Fame site, covers everything you would want to know and wish to indulge with the Swedish Fab Four (other than perhaps having them over for dinner.) The material from their folk singing days through to the final chapters of their time together is all there – interviews, the recording studios, how they toured, the get-ups etc etc.

Adults and children alike can indulge themselves in remixing, singing and recording their own versions of the hit songs as well as appearing on stage with Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Frida and then collect their own DVD of it all to take home at its conclusion. Oh the wonders of modern technology and what it can do for interactivity at exhibitions.

I was surprised to learn what an important role Australia played in their success, adoring the group in the wake of the Eurovision Song Contest triumph with Waterloo when most of Europe was only luke warm. It was this hype from down under (at least allegedly) that reignited interest in the group in the Northern Hemisphere and saw them surge again – another Molly triumph? – I just can’t remember.

But ABBA World also reminds you of what excellent songs Benny and Bjorn produced and how superb the girls were singing them, both vocally and visually. That complexity and competence is often lost in the apparent ease and excess of their performances.

Not cheap at $35 for an adult but one can spend a good two hours wandering the various levels and if all that downloading stuff takes your fancy, then good value abounds. A great visit back in time to timeless popular music but expect to be humming Ring Ring long after you have got home.

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