‘My life’s passion’: superfan’s Abba shrine recreated for exhibition

‘My life’s passion’: superfan’s Abba shrine recreated for exhibition

Andrew Boardman shares 44-year devotion to supergroup as part of O2 immersive show

Andrew Boardman with his collection of almost 2,500 items of Abba memorabilia on display in London.
 Andrew Boardman with his collection of almost 2,500 items of Abba memorabilia on display in London. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex/Shutterstock

Andrew Boardman is overcome with emotion as he stares at the cornucopia of Abba singles, albums, cassettes, videos, DVDs, posters, magazines, books, dolls, mugs, calendars, pendants, mugs, T-shirts, badges, posters, baubles, colouring books, games and dolls assembled behind glass windows at the O2 in London.

“It does look phenomenal like that, I must admit,” he said. “It is amazing to see it out like it is … it’s 44 years.”

Boardman, an Abba superfan, is looking at a collection that normally lives, shrine-like, in the front room of his mother’s house in Manchester. “I’ve missed it. I spend hours with it at mum’s when I go round.”

The room has been recreated as part of an immersive show that tells the story of the Swedish supergroup and its four members: Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson.

The exhibition charts Abba’s music, lyrics, creative process and influence, and features personal items from each member.
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 The exhibition charts Abba’s music, lyrics, creative process and influence, and features personal items from each member. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex/Shutterstock

The exhibition, which opens to the public on Friday, takes up 1,300 sq metres (14,000 sq ft) of space which has previously been used for popular culture shows on Elvis, Prince and Star Wars.

Boardman has been a fan since hearing the intro to I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do on the radio as a 12-year-old in 1975. “There was something … it’s stuck with me for the rest of my life, it just really clicked. There was a sound and from then on I was hooked.”

He soon got morning and evening paper rounds for money to spend on anything Abba-related. And he has not stopped since: “It has been my life’s passion, you could pick any item and I could tell you where I got it, when I got it.”

When video recorders came in, his mum would shout “they’re on”, and Boardman would run down to tape any Abba TV appearance.

Boardman thinks he has about 2,500 items and has spent about £50,000 over the years. He listens to Abba all the time. “It upsets everyone, but so what? I travel all over the north and I have them on constantly,” he said.

A replica of the helicopter that graced the cover of Abba’s Arrival album.
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 A replica of the helicopter that graced the cover of Abba’s Arrival album. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex/Shutterstock

The O2 show opens with a room of newspaper headlines and film clips giving people a sense of Britain in 1974. It will either be a jolt of nostalgia, or an education.

The snapshot clips include footage from the Daily Mirror gala super girl beauty contest in Stoke-on-Trent; Eddie Waring presenting It’s a Knockout in the rain; alien metal monsters chuckling at primitive humans for eating potatoes rather than dried nuggets; and Edward Heath warning people “in terms of comfort, we shall have a harder Christmas than we have known since the war”.

The Ring Ring room has 30 interactive 1970s telephones.
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 The Ring Ring room has 30 interactive 1970s telephones. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex/Shutterstock

The exhibition, which includes an audio guide narrated by the broadcaster Gemma Cairney, tells the Abba story though the band’s eight studio albums. The Ring Ring room has 30 interactive 1970s telephones, for example, while Voulez-Vous has a nightclub disco vibe.

Abba split up in 1983 but with a museum in Stockholm, a theatre production, two movies and a recently opened dinner and theatre party experience, also at the O2, the band’s profile seems to have grown rather than diminish.

One of the displays at the exhibition.
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 One of the displays at the exhibition. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

In a statement, Lyngstad said she could not wait for fans to enjoy the exhibition’s surprises. “From our Eurovision song contest win in Brighton in 74 to the present day, the UK has long held a special place in Abba’s heart, and we have always strongly felt the love and support of our British fans.”

 Abba: Super Troupers the Exhibition is at the O2 in London, from 6 December 2019 to 31 August 2020

 

Collecting all things Abba? Explore what’s in stock at eil.com today

EIL.COM Favourite Music Update Rare CDs, CD Singles, Rare Records, Vinyl Records, Albums and Music

  • Abba - Greatest Hits - 2nd - UK - vinyl LP - £10.00, $12.50, €11.20 (New Item) (arrived 12-Aug-2020 15:08)
    on August 13, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    ABBA Greatest Hits (1976 UK second issue 15-track LP compilation on the yellow Epic label including Fernando, gatefold picture sleeve with tracklisting not split into sides & incorrectly sequenced. The sleeve shows some light edge scuffing, whilst the vinyl looks barely played EPC69218)

  • Abba - Take A Chance On Me - US - 7" vinyl - £10.00, $12.50, €11.20 (Back In Stock) (arrived 30-Jul-2020 06:39)
    on August 13, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    ABBA Take A Chance On Me (1978 US solid centre 7" vinyl single, also including I'm A Marionette, plain die-cut paper sleeve SEPC5950)

  • Abba - The Studio Albums - Coloured Vinyl Collection - UK - vinyl box set - £149.99, $187.49, €167.99 (New Item) (arrived 23-Jul-2020 14:02)
    on August 13, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    ABBA The Studio Albums (2020 UK/EU limited edition 8-LP box set, collecting together for the first time on coloured vinyl, and with replica LP artwork, each of the studio album releases: 1973’s Ring Ring on red vinyl, 1974’s Waterloo on orange vinyl, 1975’s ABBA on silver vinyl, 1976’s Arrival on white vinyl, 1977’s ABBA: The Album on green vinyl, 1979’s Voulez-Vous on blue vinyl, 1980’s Super Trouper on gold vinyl and 1981’s The Visitors on yellow vinyl. Taken together, they represent one of the most stunningly creative runs in pop music, setting the bar for those that followed in their wake. Factory sealed & brand new. Recommended!)

  • Abba - The Albums - UK - cd album box set - £35.00, $43.75, €39.20 (New Item) (arrived 23-Jul-2020 15:49)
    on August 13, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    ABBA The Albums (2008 UK 99-track NINE CD box set containing their eight studio albums & a bonus disc of single sides and additional tracks. On early albums such as 'Ring Ring' and 'Waterloo', we witness Agnetha, Björn, Benny & Frida'sfirst steps as they are trying to figure out just what ABBA were about. The journey continues with 'ABBA', 'Arrival', 'ABBA – The Album' and 'Voulez-Vous', capturing the band's glory years as one of the most successful musical entities on theplanet. Finally, there is the winding-down on 'Super Trouper' and 'The Visitors', as the story reaches its inevitable end. The 'Bonus Tracks' CD collects the single hits that never made it onto one of ABBA's original albums: 'Fernando', 'Summer Night City' and 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)', to name but a few, a number of rare single B-sides and Swedish-language album tracks, complete with forty page illustrated booklet in an attractive title box. The box does show just a little very minor shelfwear and the contents are 'as new')

  • Abba - S.O.S. - 1st - Solid - UK - 7" vinyl - £8.00, $10.00, €8.96 (New Item) (arrived 24-Jul-2020 11:18)
    on August 13, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    ABBA S.O.S. (1975 UK first issue solid centre 7" vinyl single, also including Man In The Middle. Issued in an Epic company die-cut paper sleeve, the vinyl remains in excellent condition with only minimal evidence of play SEPC3576)

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