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 Thank you for the music!
An symphonic Abba spectacular

16/17 May  Laugardalsholl  REYKJAVIK


The Iceland Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Martin Yates

Louise Marshall
, Holly Lambert, Anna Lowe

In the last five years West End International has built up a reputation in Iceland that has local people flocking to their concerts.  Ticket demand for the two nights of the ABBA concert this May was so high that the venue had to be changed to a larger one and still sold out with lots of disappointed people unable to get tickets.  According to the local paper (kindly translated for me by Joachim at the Baldasbrá Guest house) ‘everyone is going with everyone of all ages because Abba music forms a bond between the generations.’   

So what makes these concerts so special?  Martin Yates seems to have found the perfect formula:  it is quite simply the magic combination of world class symphony orchestra, dynamic rock band, an excellent backing group and four supremely talented soloists, together with the right choice of popular music and great orchestrations.  This is absolutely not yet another look a like, sound a like Abba tribute group but a classy and unique reinterpretation of Abba music - a celebration indeed! The concert started with a lively overture – a clever juxtaposition of tunes each of which melted seamlessly into the next one.  This was followed by the very atmospheric opening bars of Super Trouper and with the first lines sung off stage it created the same kind 

of thrilling ‘butterflies in your stomach’ anticipation as the sound of the helicopter at the beginning of Miss Saigon.  The four performers, stylishly dressed in white suits and white trilby hats, continued the song on stage amidst thunderous applause from a very appreciative audience.  There were a further twenty one songs, some of Abba’s best known hits as well as a few lesser known songs, some sung as solos or duets, some with three or all four of them together.  It was a captivating mix, as a lively fun song such as Honey, Honey (Hannah, Simon) was followed by an enchanting ballad I Have a Dream, sung beautifully by Hannah and Sally Ann, who both looked stunning and have powerful and expressive voices.

Two of my favourite songs, Chiquitita and The Winner Takes it All  were sung as male duets by Simon and Dean, both of whom have superb voices and the ability to wring every ounce of emotion out of a song.  Eagle, a song I hadn’t previously known, was sung as a spellbinding solo by Simon and allowed a free rein for his extraordinary vocal range.

The concert ended on a further high note appropriately with Thank You For The Music.  With everyone on their feet, the deafening applause and foot stomping were rewarded by a tremendous, rollicking encore with a fun medley of all the songs.  This concert really zings and the whole audience was buzzing with the feel of a good night out and if the drinks are dearer in Iceland then the tickets are about half the price of London’s West End. 

And to be honest I enjoyed it a lot more than anything I’ve seen in London recently.  Iceland is a ravishing country to visit and what better way to end a great day than to visit a fantastic concert.  So all that remains is to say to all those concerned:       ‘Thank you - for the music!’          Margaret Vermette