When Abba chose to launch their North American tour in ... Edmonton
Alberta capital chosen for its 'forgiving' audiences, as Abba got used to touring again
In 1979, Swedish pop supergroup Abba embarked on their first North American concert tour, and their choice of city for the launch was apparently not a random one.
It was carefully chosen — and it was Edmonton.
They arrived to great attention from local and international press, and as CBC reporter Christopher Walmsley described it "you could tell this was going to be interesting right from the start."
As Walmsley explained, the Sept. 13, 1979 concert was the group's first in over two years, and they needed a venue where they could "shake the bugs out of their show before hitting the big U.S. market."
"And there stands the reason why Abba chose Edmonton to launch their first-ever assault on the North American concert tour," Walmsley said.
"Edmonton audiences are forgiving and appreciative," he continued, and they provided the "morale boost" the group needed.
'A tingle down my spine'
In the audience that night was 18-year-old Wayne Gretzky, a teenager whose early career as a player with the Edmonton Oilers was drawing superlatives.
He was asked how he felt when singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad danced on the stage in a No. 99 Oilers sweater.
"I was sitting there watching the concert and next thing you know one of the girls is coming out with my sweater on," Gretzky said.
"It got pretty good applause from people in the stands, and you know, it sent a tingle down my spine."
A need to tour
The group met with the press and explained why they had decided to tour North America.
Andersson told reporters they recognized that they had been doing television and radio, but without any touring.
He noted that "it seems like not being available here in North America is definitely a disadvantage."
"We're sitting up there by the North Pole and not really realizing what's going on," he continued. "We're here to try to change that, when it comes to North America."