Review Cassandra Hale
It was leather and feathers on parade as I entered the recently refurbished Palais Theatre for a night of fun and frivolity with Bjorn Again and The Village People. It was a full house with some very colourful characters happily dressed as their favourite ‘village’ person or ABBA member. The eighties tunes were pumping and the atmosphere was one of nostalgia and warm memories from years gone by. While it was an older demographic, there were a few children dotted here and there whose parents were trying to pass their love of music down through the generations.
Bjorn Again is well known for being one the most successful ABBA tribute bands, and it comes as no surprise that they are still wowing the crowds after 28 years in the business. If like me you grew up spinning ABBA Arrival on your record player, this is the show for you. It has all the seventies glitz and glamor a girl (or a guy for that matter) could ever want, blue eye shadow, white leather boots, mini skirts and silk robes. The costumes were pure ABBA perfection, the iconic blue and yellow cats we grew up with brought back to life once again. A set of fifteen ABBA classics played out over the next hour much to the delight of the fans who were happily grooving in their seats. Opening with Waterloo, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! and Super Trouper it was obvious that this was as good as you are ever going to see in lieu of the real deal. Knowing Me, Knowing You, SOS, Chiquitita, Fernando, they just kept coming and it is then that you realise just how many hits ABBA had.
The fabulous Swedish banter between the four was hysterical and gave a fresh light overtone to the show, with lots of fun and laughter all round. Then it was time for a quick dance lesson with Ring Ring, everyone was up and spinning their dialing digits with gusto. Rock Me, Money, Money, Money, Take a Chance on Me, Mamma Mia, all perfectly performed and enjoyed by all. The classic ABBA dance moves were flawlessly performed and matched with a spectacular light show worthy of any 70’s disco. Dancing Queen was the perfect finale and I think we were all a bit sad when it was over. If you are looking for a really entertaining show with great music and a few giggles along the way, I can highly recommend Bjorn Again.
After a brief break, American disco stars The Village People made their presence known. With only a black curtain for a backdrop and six microphones, it was all up to them to entertain us, and that they did in fine fashion. The 40th Anniversary Tour (yes 40 years!) brings The Village People back to Australia for the 39th time, a clear indication that they love us, and we love them in return. Macho Man had everyone quickly up on their feet, trademark spins, gyrating pelvises and bicep kissing performed in unison by this red hot sextet. Policeman Ray Simpson’s vocals were stand out as he fired off hit after hit including a terrific cover of The Doobie Brothers Listen to the Music. Milkshake and Can’t Stop the Music were so much fun and I was taken back to being 9 years old and the excitement of watching the movie for the first time. In the Navy complete with an Australian and American flag waving frenzy had us all chanting along, ‘we want you, we want you, we want you as a new recruit’!
Music royalty Molly Meldrum was front row and received a well-deserved standing ovation from all of us as The Village People thanked him for his years of unending support. It was great to see him out enjoying the music that he worked so passionately to bring to Australia all those years ago.
Go West was the first song of the encore, with lots of flashy synchronised dance moves, it was also when a young lady took it upon herself to make a break for the stage, and while it was hysterical to watch I don’t think the ‘mature’ age usher who had hold of her pants was laughing. It took a second security member to haul the young lady back off the stage before she could make it to her target, cowboy Jim Newman.
Time for a Y.M.C.A. dance lesson direct from the creators themselves, soon we were all on the same page and ready to smash it out for the final song of the night. Native American Felipe Rose was dressed in a spectacular red headdress for the occasion and it was a marvelous finish to what was a wonderful trip down memory lane. If you missed them this time, never fear I am certain they will back again real soon.