ABBA made a historic landing on September 17, 1979, when they played their first-ever concert on American soil – during the only international tour they ever did.
ABBA: The Tour had arrived in North America two days earlier, as the Scandinavian superstars started their itinerary with Canadian shows in Edmonton and Vancouver. But when they stepped out on the stage of the 5,000-seat Seattle Centre Arena, it was the first time they’d ever played for an American audience. This was fully five years after their international breakthrough with “Waterloo.”
It began a run of 14 US shows, followed by two more in Canada, before the quartet and their touring entourage headed for Europe. It was the leg of the tour that would include the six-night run at Wembley Arena that was commemorated with the 2015 release of a CD, limited edition digibook and a 180 gram triple vinyl set, courtesy of Universal Music Catalogue.
With their sixth studio album Voulez-Vous on release, ABBA were undergoing a big promotional push in the States at the time of the debut date. Billboard magazine had published a 50-page special on the group earlier in the month, and after a Top 20 American hit with “Does Your Mother Know,” Atlantic released the double-sided “Angeleyes” and “Voulez-Vous” as a single there. It made the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of that first gig, but would only climb to No.64. The album, though, reached No.19 and went gold.
The set for the Seattle show, and the whole tour, featured just about all of the many hits ABBA had amassed by 1979, as well as key album tracks like “As Good As New,” “Rock Me” and “Eagle.” The shows ended with an encore of “The Way Old Friends Do,” “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo.” After Seattle, it was on to the Portland Opera House, as the ABBA machine rolled across the States for the only time.