“Whether you like it or not, everyone has heard ‘Dancing Queen’ at least once,” says Christian Fast.
The lead guitarist for ABBA The Concert, an ABBA tribute act, has no reason to doubt that fact. ABBA is the second-highest selling pop group of all time, behind only The Beatles. The Swedish group’s songs have inspired a musical, a film based on said musical, and kept ’70s discos thriving across the globe. And all this from just eight studio albums released over the band’s short ten-year career. The reason for their enduring success?
“It’s pop evergreen,” says Fast. “Benny Andersson is so advanced harmonically, he’s very innovative when it comes to creating melodies. You can hear it’s all well-crafted songwriting. If you redress the songs today with modern production, they would still stand the test of time.”
That enduring quality of ABBA’s music is replicated in the success ABBA The Concert have enjoyed with their tribute act. Fast was one of the group’s founding members in 1996, and since then, they’ve played to crowds in over thirty countries and regularly sell out venues such as the Hollywood Bowl and Wolf Trap, where they’ll perform this weekend.
“We benefit from them not being around anymore,” Fast acknowledges, noting that the real ABBA completed just three tours — only one of which visited the U.S. — and have refused to reunite since their split in 1982. But the concert’s success hasn’t come simply because of a dearth of official ABBA performances. “We get good reviews and word of mouth. Most people who come to our concerts want to remember the ’70s, and now they’re bringing their kids. This is the closest thing they can get to ABBA. We have fun on stage. It’s not just a couple of mannequins playing. It’s the real deal.”
After twenty years of non-stop ABBA, Fast has understandably tired of a couple of songs. “One song, ‘Ring Ring,’ I’ve had it with that,” he acknowledges with a laugh. But Fast keeps his love for the biggest hits alive with his burgeoning songwriting career — he’s penned tracks for Australian artist Tina Arena, South Korean boy band EXO, and has enjoyed five million record sales in Japan from artists using his tracks. That second career, the “gravy on top” of performing as ABBA, allows him to continue to appreciate their music.
Perhaps appropriately, Fast’s favorite track is one from near the end of ABBA’s career, which signalled that the group’s personal troubles were insurmountable.
“I would say ‘When All Is Said and Done’,” he says. “I really love that song. It’s a nice moment in our concerts.”
ABBA The Concert plays Sunday, Aug. 16, at 8 p.m. at The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna. Tickets are $25 to $42. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit wolftrap.org.
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