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Speaking With... Arrival From Sweden 10.26.12

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♦ 8 p.m. Oct. 31

♦ City Winery Chicago,
1200 W. Randolph

♦ Tickets, $38-$58

♦ (312) 733-WINE (9463);

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ABBA’s “Arrival” may have been an instrumental offering, but for one tribute band, the song spoke volumes. So much so, that Arrival From Sweden — perhaps the ultimate ABBA tribute band in the world — took its moniker from the aforementioned cut (and title of the fourth album from the real Swedish foursome) — and took to the road in homage to the iconic pop band.

Arrival (the singing group) consists of Vicky Zetterberg as “Anni-Frid” and Jeanette Norlander as “Agnetha” (both on lead vocals), Leif Olsson as “Benny” on keyboards and Fredrik Bjorns as “Bjorn” on guitar and vocals. To add authenticity, Arrival tours with several members of ABBA’s bandmates including Mike Watson, Janne Schaffer, Roger Palm, Janne Kling and Ake Sundqvist, among others.

They bring their ABBA stylings (and nearly 25 ABBA songs) to City Winery on Halloween night. We spoke to Zetterberg via e-mail from Sweden.

Question: When did the band come together?

Vicky Zetterberg: I started the band 1995 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Q. Why did the music of ABBA resonate with you so deeply that you wanted to be a tribute band?

VZ: I have always loved ABBA’s music and I wanted to do a proper ABBA show to [do] them justice! I have seen so many bad ABBA tribute acts out there.

Q. Have any of the members of ABBA seen you perform?

VZ: I have met Benny Andersson about 10 times and Bjorn Ulvaeus three times. Yes, they have seen us perform.

Q. How long does it take each of you to perfect the hair, the costumes, the dance moves?

VZ: It takes about 1½ to 2 hours to prepare for the show.

Q. You have performed around the world with symphony orchestras. What is that like?

VZ: Oh yes we have done symphony concerts with about 50 different symphony orchestras all around the world. For example, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra … about 40 different symphony orchestras in the U.S. since 2007 … and we have done concerts with symphony orchestras also in Sweden Denmark, the U.K., China, etc. It is fantastic; so powerful with a symphony!

Q. What are your three favorite ABBA songs and why?

VZ: My favourite sings are “If It Wasn’t for the Nights,” “Kisses of Fire” and “Dancing Queen” … masterpieces … perfect in every way!

Q. Why do you think ABBA’s music is still so popular today?

VZ: [It’s the] QUALITY and great singing and musicians … and the songs are fantastic!

Q. You took your band name from the fourth studio album by ABBA. Why?

VZ: It was the [biggest-selling] album for ABBA and we can use the “R” backward... just like ABBA did with the “B.”

Q. How does Sweden feel having both the original ABBA and your band, which has been called the best ABBA tribute band out there today?

VZ: Sweden is proud of us and that we are touring with this show [for 17 years] … and that we promote both Sweden and ABBA.

Q. Did you see ABBA perform live, and what was it like when you first saw them in concert?

VZ: Yes I have seen ABBA live five times in Sweden … amazing …fantastic!

Q. What’s the largest venue/crowd you’ve played?

VZ: In Wroclaw in Poland, 50,000 people. In Madison, Wis., 35,000 people. At the Jamaica Festival [in] Montego Bay, 30,000 people. At Red Rocks in Denver (in various concerts between 2007-2012) [we] sold out every year [with about] 10,000-15 000 people [each time]!

Q. Do you like playing relatively smaller venues such as City Winery, as opposed to arenas or festivals? How is it different?

VZ: Oh yes we LOVE that. That makes us closer to the audience and it gets more intimate… We can look the audience in their eyes. That is wonderful.

Q. Other than ABBA, what kind of music do you listen to?

VZ: I love hard rock music like Symphony X, Evergrey, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Mother’s Finest, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Kiss, Styx, Grand Funk, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc.

Q. How long did it take the four of you to perfect your whole ABBA persona?

VZ: I have done the show for 17 years… and the most important [thing] on stage is the energy, passion, love, getting the audience into the show and feeling the love and power of ABBA’s music, and to [do] ABBA justice and show them respect! ABBA is the world’s biggest pop group ever with almost 500 million records sold. “Mamma Mia!” [has been] on Broadway for 11 years and still sells out.

Q. In a smackdown between an ABBA tribute band and a Beatles tribute band, who would win?

VZ: ABBA x 10!

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