Date: 18 January, 2004
: The Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver

Reviewer: John Jane



I have always found something a little quirky in watching copy bands, more politely referred to as tribute bands. If they’re too accurate, it can be a bit eery. If they miss the mark completely, they can appear comical. The two bands performing at the Dragon Boat Festival fund-raiser in the Commodore Ballroom last Sunday (18th Jan.) fitted comfortably somewhere between the two.

The current local penchant for tribute shows is perhaps easily explained: Many of us who lived through the seventies find ourselves with a proclivity to revisit the past at every opportunity that presents itself. Recent years have seen such bands evolve from mere covers performers to picture-perfect imitations of original songs and stage shows. Like Toronto based ABBA-Mania's tongue-in-cheek retrospect at the Swedish supergroup, ABBA. The four band members, plus back-up musicians, transported us back through the years with all the ABBA favourites: ‘Fernando’, ‘SOS’, ‘Mamma Mia’, and ‘Waterloo’.





ABBA are best remembered for being a four-piece band, with the two guys, Björn and Benny often performing songs on their own. Björn especially was the consummate showman, introducing the songs and playfully jesting with his band-mates and the audience. With ABBA-Mania, this responsibility was left entirely to the two female members. Mississauga native Suzi McNeil, who actually did bear a passing resemblance to Agnetha Fältskog, seemed to revel in the role of leader.

Warm-up act, Staying Alive, with their slightly edgy arrangements of the Bee Gees tunes, were closer to a cover band. However, the lead-singer’s imitation of Barry Gibb’s falsetto was ‘bang-on’. This nine-piece group delighted the capacity crowd with songs from the Bee Gees disco period.

If you missed this show, or still not had enough of the ABBA revival, you can catch another tribute band, ABBA-Cadabra at the Croatian Cultural Centre on February 13th.

© 2004, John Jane