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Waterloo Station: ABBA exhibit explores band's 1970s rise

Last Updated Dec 13, 2017 at 10:20 am PDT

Bjorn Ulvaeus, former band member of the group ABBA, poses for photographers in a recreation of the Polar recording studio in Sweden, where the group recorded many of their notable albums including Super Trouper. The photo call is to promote the exhibition 'ABBA: Super Troupers', in London, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

LONDON – ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus says a new London exhibition about the Swedish pop group took him right back to the 1970s — and he realized some things haven’t changed.

Abba: Super Troupers includes reconstructions of the hotel room in England where band members stayed after winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo,” a ’70s recording studio and a typically drab British living room of the era.

Ulvaeus said Wednesday that a television set in the exhibit “showed footage from 1973-74, how the Brits were hesitant about Europe back then, in the very same way as they are now, which is really sad, I think.”

He said Britain’s departure from the European Union was “like losing — not losing a friend because you’re still there — but somehow you don’t want to be in the team, and I think that’s sad.”

The exhibition at London’s Southbank Centre features items from the ABBA museum in Stockholm and private archives, including costumes, handwritten notes, photos and musical instruments.

It sets the rise of the spangly Swedish superstars “against the shifting socio-economic and political conditions of the time” — a period when Britain was beset by strikes, power shortages and financial crisis.

At a preview of the show, Ulvaeus said it brought back old memories. But he said the four members of ABBA would never reunite for live concerts, because it “would be such hassle.”

“It would be enormous. And it would take such… you cannot imagine the tension and the attention from everyone,” he said.

“So it would be like robbing yourself of, perhaps, two or three years out of your life when I could be paddling on my surf ski in the archipelago of Stockholm instead.”

The exhibition opens Thursday and runs to April 29. Fittingly, the nearest train and subway station is Waterloo.