TATI: Tony, you’re a fan of videogames, virtual reality and other cool modern ‘toys’, aren’t you?
TONY: Pretty much! If it involves joysticks or pixels then count me in!
TATI: Oh, I hoped for this answer. Another question: Do you like ABBA?
TONY: I love ABBA!
TATI: Have you heard they’ve reformed for the Voyage tour in 2022?
TONY: I have, and I’m very excited about it too! I can’t wait to see them on stage again, and to hear their new songs!
TATI: I bet millions of people would agree with you on this. To see their idols live again? To hear their voices? People are clamouring to pay hundreds—even thousands—of dollars for the tickets! Will you and Cassy go to their new show if you have the chance?
TONY: Hm. Depends on whether or not we can actually afford it, I guess.
TATI: Imagine that you can afford tickets for the show.
TONY: Well then it’s a hard YES!
TATI: And now imagine that you bought the tickets, are looking forward to the show, and maybe even prepared some silly t-shirts with ‘I love ABBA’ to wear to the concert.
TONY: I wouldn’t wear such a t-shirt but everything else tracks so far!
TATI: No matter—then silicone bracelets. You’ve recharged your phone so that you can take some cool photos and videos to post on Instagram. Why? Because everyone should know you were there!
TONY: Should they? Or should I just go along with your scenario? It sounds like you’re building up to something…
TATI: Okey dokey. So, you’re there. Everyone’s excited and full of anticipation. Light slowly fills the stage, the chords of your favourite song starts to play, you and Cassy are jumping and yipping on the parquet like two teenagers.
TONY: Okay, I’m seeing this in my head now. Pretty cool!
TATI: You’re ready to finally meet the legendary band. After so many years they are together again on stage. But…
TONY: But… what? Now you’re beginning to worry me.
TATI: Perhaps you didn’t remember to read the disclaimer in tiny letters on the last page of the brochure. Who reads that stuff anyway? But, you see, it says that there’re no Benny, Anni-Frid, Agnetha and Björn on the stage.
TONY: What the dum dum diddle FUCK?!
TATI: Well, they are mere holograms, their young digital avatars on the stage. It is not them in person. So… what do you feel?
TATI: Do you feel excited? Do you love pixels now?
TONY: Well… I…
TATI: Come on, boy! You did say that they could count you in!
TONY: Well, no! Not if this is all I’m paying my hard earned cash for!
TATI: And what’s the difference, Tony? Why are you suddenly so tight-fisted? I believe your beloved PS5 cost a lot of money too.
TONY: Yes, because I know I’m going to be playing some of the finest videogames ever made on it! I’m not expecting ABBA to also be videogame characters! I’m expecting them to actually be live on stage! You know… in the flesh?
TATI: Oh, I hoped for this answer!
TONY: Did you now?! Well, bully for you! What are you hoping to achieve with this conversation? Other than to break my heart? I was really hoping to see ABBA live!
TATI: Sorry, Tony. I promise to stop tossing these concepts around for now. Actually, I wholeheartedly agree with you on this. I don’t want to see a digital ABBA. I prefer to see them live even though they’ve grown old, gotten some grey hair, wrinkles and put on excess pounds.
TONY: Exactly! If all we’re gonna get is a glorified digital show then I’d much rather stay at home and watch some of their old concerts on DVD. It makes more sense!
TATI: Yes, and even if their voices aren’t so clean and powerful now, they’ve got lived experience and the feeling of passing years. I bet every song will sound different now. 1972 to 1982 versus 2022. A whole life lies between those dates, huh?
TONY: Yes, that’s part of what I enjoy about following certain singers and bands. It’s the pleasure of seeing how their artistic expression evolves and matures over time. It would be a shame if they remained static and only did the same kind of thing over and over and over again.
TATI: Why do you think they are doing this? Of course, it’s not about the money—and they’ll still get millions from this anyway. Are they afraid to present themselves as they are now to their legions of faithful fans who probably remember them when they were young and beautiful? Or do they hope to gain a new generation of fans through the use of modern, gimmicky technologies?
TONY: It’s hard to know really. Like you say, they don’t need the money, so I’m assuming the hologram angle is more for personal creative reasons. But what would those creative reasons be? What artistic satisfaction could they possibly derive from this rather than the more traditional live on stage approach?
TATI: Perhaps you can consider me cynic but I vote for the age option. They’re scared of showing themselves as they are now and don’t feel confident.
TONY: Perhaps vanity does play a part in this. If it’s true then I personally would find it hard to fault them. I always think twice before committing my face to film too. It shouldn’t matter at the end of the day but unfortunately that’s not the world we live in. But let me ask you something: Do you think the kind of concert they’re going to stage in 2022 is ever going to be as good as just appearing as themselves live on stage?
TATI: I have no idea if it will be a great show or a total fuck up. Let me put my answer this way: I’d prefer an imperfect live show than a perfect digital one.
TONY: Yes, I agree. I mean, sure, they can put on whatever the hell kinda show they want. They’re artists after all, and that’s what artists do. They buck expectations and try to give the audience what it never knew it wanted. Hopefully that will be the case here.
TATI: So, ultimately, would you pay you money for the digital ABBA?
TONY: No. I would save that money for something else. I assume your answer would be the same, yes?
TATI: Absolutely! And now, I feel this is a perfect place to end our discussion and pass the baton to our Dearest Readers. What do they feel about this? Would they pay money for tickets to this new ABBA show?
TONY: Excellent! Well, I’m off to play some more ‘Metroid Dread’. I gotta help Samus defeat some creepy robot to get a morph ball upgrade.
TATI: Great! I’m off to do some yoga. I believe it will be more useful for keeping my mind and ass in a good shape. Let’s have another look in forty years and see which of us will be more prepared for a live tour. Who do you bet?
TONY: Oh, that’s easy. Samus!