Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus has said in the past that he and his former bandmates don’t need reunion cash, and a recent concert arranged by the Kremlin would seem to bear that out: Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin had to fly in the British tribute band Bjorn Again in order to quell his Abba jones at a recent private concert. How private? How about eight guests?
The tribute group Björn Again was flown to Moscow from London, then driven 200 miles north by bus to a remote location near Lake Valdai, where they were kept at a military barracks. It was only as they prepared to perform in a tiny theatre the following night that they learnt who would be in the audience.
Aileen McLaughlin, who performs as Abba’s blonde Agnetha Fältskog, said that Mr Putin and a woman companion were sitting on a sofa that was veiled by a lace curtain. Half a dozen other guests were present at the hour-long show on January 22 as the group sang 15 Abba hits including Waterloo, Gimme Gimme Gimme and Dancing Queen.
“It was the smallest audience we have ever performed to but Mr Putin was really enjoying it, shouting ‘bravo’ and clapping with the others,” said Ms McLaughlin. “He was dancing along in his seat to Super Trouper and raised his hands in the air during Mamma Mia when we asked the audience to.” Björn Again performed despite the distraction of a burly security guard who sat in front of the stage watching their every move. Band members were under strict instructions never to leave the stage during the show.
They were not invited to meet Mr Putin when it was all over. Instead, the band was taken back to their barracks while the Prime Minister and his guests watched a fireworks display.
“Everybody was dressed up – Mr Putin was in a bow tie and the woman was in a really pretty, long, cream dress,” said Ms McLaughlin. “I assume it was his wife but I only got a glimpse of her because of the netting.”
The show reportedly cost the Kremlin £20,000. You’d think they could have saved some money by just buying the Mamma Mia! remake on DVD, but I guess they got advance word that the flick was something of a stinker.
Vladimir Putin flies in Bjorn Again for Abba tribute concert [Times of London]