Friday, May 13, 2011

BPO takes a chance on ABBA

Pairing the sounds of a symphony orchestra with music from the largest group in the history of dance-pop is a bit like slathering your steak with Funfetti - as bad as it sounds, I ask you what he knows.

Therein lies the appeal of Saturday night "ABBA: The Concert", in which the Swedish cover band Waterloo Kleinhans had a sellout crowd back to the dance floor of the 1970 with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on the trip. The band of the moment, covering a dozen singers and musicians, is committed to covering everything we've come to expect from a good cover band. Besides offering a faithful re-creation of the ABBA sound, and trot out a couple of original members (drummer and saxophonist), Waterloo imitate the fashions, too. Quick lead guitarist Christian always just feathered hair, bell bottoms, tight costumes and monster platforms, and lead vocalist Marika Lindell Linde and Matilda went through several costume changes, which included matching poncho, a blue suit, the satin and mesh combined cowboy, and a sort of disco bullfighter.

If I'm focusing too much on fashion, is because the songs of ABBA issues tend to be empty, and tonight was no exception. Things begin well, however, with an interpretation of the nugget gum glam "Take a Chance on Me." Brilliant, catchy and repetitive in a good way, this is one of the best sweet ABBA. Another first was the presence sound more BPO, brass claw in the first game to the xylophone nifty runs in the otherwise anemic disco cut "Money Money Money."

But unfortunately, that was the last time I heard from the orchestra until the end of the first series - a stretch of five songs that left us nothing but focus on some smaller ABBA material. When the group was not making crazy dance songs hummable, they were writing material that is more reminiscent of the over-the-top choir singing Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow. And Waterloo gave a series of them, without the orchestra to be interesting, including "Chiquitita," a melodramatic ballad with a large choir, Diamond-ish and a rare Hoedown outro that was hard to take seriously.

Things picked up again with a merciful one-two "Waterloo" and "SOS", both well-crafted hooks, and both the BPO back into the fold. And the closer to the first series, "Mamma Mia", was the best example of two different styles of working together.

The second set was very similar, with the opening of the disco-hippie nonsense of "Eagle", but also gives us an exuberant parody of the imitation of classic flamenco "Fernando", which was supported by the orchestra, adding beautiful and rest pizzicatos flute in the morning to accentuate the "pleasure" in the "guilty pleasure."

Overall, this was more or less beef cake than I expected. But it was not me. Waterloo exists for ABBA fans happy. And there was a deep and loving tribute that had a room full of people dancing down the memory lane.
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