Fans are trying to squeeze their way to the front of the Pyramid, t-shirts are being thrown into the crowd and you can barely hear the band on stage over the roaring sing-a-long. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a boyband arena show, but no, instead the band on stage are ABBA tribute act Björn Again, and they’re opening the legendary Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2019.
Before they begin, fans eagerly flock to stage, “we got here early especially,” Paddy tells me. He’s joined by his younger sister Cleona and mum Jane, and they’re looking forward to the “timeless classics, especially on a sunny day like today”.
Couple Sarah and John echo their sentiments, “It’s quite well known, and everyone knows it, it’s good for the crowd,” they say, “it’s just a bit of fun really, gets everyone out of bed!”
And “just a bit of fun” is the perfect way to sum up Björn Again’s outlandish, hour-long set. Marching on stage in their brilliantly tacky, ‘80s outfits, the cover band blitz through a collection of ABBA classics.
The band are clearly as delighted as the audience to be there. Benny Anderwear (the Benny Andersson impersonator, obviously) scampers across the full length of the stage, addressing his “biblical multitude” warmly and giving shout outs to hardcore fans who seem to have put their request in beforehand (“Happy 40th Birthday John! I don’t really care, but I think your girlfriend does!”)
For the most part their versions of ABBA tunes are carbon copies of the originals, but at times they add their own twist. Benny includes a brilliantly bizarre Limp Bizkit-style rap in ‘Take a Chance on Me’, and the band mix in The Police’s ‘Message In A Bottle’ to ‘SOS’.
At one point Agnetha Falstart and Frida Longstokin (the Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad impersonators) disappear off stage, leaving just the men. “Benny, place both hands upon your organ and play some of the devil’s music,” Björn Volvo-us (Björn Ulvaeus) tells Benny, before adding “or failing that some American ‘80s hair metal!” before they launch into a cover of Van Halen‘s ‘Jump’.
The only blip comes when Frida tries to stop the music for a moment (“Benny we’re going to stop the music for one song”) but the band keeps playing and she quips “maybe not”. But maybe Björn Again were just committing to the impersonations and adding in a bit of the infamous tensions the band were known for.
Finishing with an arena wide sing-a-long of ‘Dancing Queen’, which saw even your cooler-than-thou pal who’s just here ironically to dance, Björn Again milk the applause and take a bow. Unapologetically cheesy? Totally. The most wholesome start you could have to your Glastonbury weekend? Absolutely. Would we see it again? You can bet on it.
Björn Again’s setlist was:
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
SOS (with ‘Message In A Bottle’)
Lay All Your Love on Me
Jump (Van Halen cover)
Money, Money, Money
Take a Chance on Me
Does Your Mother Know