Meet Abba clones: Bjorn Again

Swede dreams: (from left) Bjorn Volvo-us, Agnetha Falstart, Frida Longstokin and Benny Anderwear are Bjorn Again.

As a tribute band, Abba clones Bjorn Again take their job very seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that the members refuse to reveal their real names and ages, and conduct media interviews as their alter egos.

They take their first names - Frida Longstokin, Agnetha Falstart, Benny Anderwear and Bjorn Volvo-us - after those of the original Abba members and give an irreverent twist to their last names.

Longstokin, whose name is a spin on Swedish children's book character Pippi Longstocking, claims she is "ageless" in a telephone interview from Melbourne.

Like their stage act, she even adopts a fake Swedish accent during the interview, reinforcing the band's reputation for not breaking character in media interviews.

The Australian tribute band will perform at Sands Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands today and tomorrow.

"I never get tired of singing Abba songs. They make me so happy and joyous," says Longstokin, whose role in the group is to channel real-life Abba member Anna-Frid Lyngstad, 67, better known as Frida.

The original band split up more than 30 years ago.

Bjorn Again, the most enduring and successful Abba tribute band, have been keeping songs such as Dancing Queen, Super Trouper and Money, Money, Money alive since 1988, when they first plied the Melbourne pub circuit.

Their first overseas tour was in Sweden, Abba's home country, in 1990. Since then, they have played in more than 80 countries, putting on about four shows in a month.

Longstokin says Abba are an institution in Australia because of their "perfect pop songs".

"Abba's music is something that is deeply ingrained in this country," she says. "We have a love affair with their music. One out of three Australians owns Abba's Gold album."

The group have the Abba stage show down to a pat, even the gaudy 1970s-style costumes favoured by the original quartet.

"Before every show, we spend a lot of time trying to get into our tight jumpsuits. As you can guess, there is a lot of stretching involved."

She used to worry that she will get tired of having to sing the same Abba hits again and again but not anymore. "Every time I get on stage, I can't deny how great their songs are. And they have so many songs to choose from."

Bjorn Again have the distinction of being the only tribute band to be endorsed by Abba.

In 1999, former Abba member Benny Andersson, who is now 66, said in an interview with a British radio station that his old group will never get back together and that Bjorn Again is "the closest you can get to seeing Abba".

Bjorn Again have appeared as a support act to music artists including fellow Australian singer Kylie Minogue, American singing and acting veteran Cher and American pop-punk band Green Day.

In 1992, grunge icons Nirvana saw Bjorn Again perform at a club in Melbourne and subsequently invited the quartet to perform at Reading Festival, one of Britain's most prominent music festivals.

Describing each of the three performances in Singapore as "one huge party", Longstokin says she expects the audience to sing along to the Abba hits.

"We want the audience to be part of the whole Abba experience and, yes, we want them to come dressed in 1970s fashion too."

dinohadi@sph.com.sg

Book it

BJORN AGAIN

Where: Sands Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands

When: Today, 8pm and tomorrow, 2.30 & 8pm

Admission: $45, $65, $95 and $105 from Marina Bay Sands box offices, www.baseentertainmentasia.com, www.marinabaysands.com/ticketing or call 6688-8826, or from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

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