It was during a Port Moody show for Nearly Neil — Bobby Bruce’s tribute to the legendary Neil Diamond — when Jonas Falle first met Toshi Takahashi.
Then, the Port Moody secondary graduate was playing guitar in the band while Takahashi, a Centennial secondary grad, was on the percussions.
The two musicians clicked and soon Takahashi was recruited to Falle’s entertainment company, Moon Coin Productions, for other tribute projects.
More than two decades later Falle and Takahashi are still at it, performing in a number of Moon Coin’s Vegas-style stage acts around the world.
With ABRA Cadabra — of which Falle portrays Bjorn Ulvaeus from the Swedish pop group — the pair has performed before royals and at top corporations, covering hits like Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, Waterloo and Take a Chance on Me.
They’ve opened for Kool & The Gang in Florida, for Boney M at the QE Theatre in Vancouver and even headlined on Port Moody Day in 2014.
But it’s Malaysia that continues to call them back.
They’ve performed before the prime minister and toured the Malaysian royal family’s home; as well, they played before 20,000 guests in a nationally televised concert at the Penang Fair and appeared at a a magazine awards gala at the Shangri La in Kuala Lumpur.
“Not many people can say they’ve been invited to the royal palace in Malaysia eight times,” Falle said. “It sounds so incredible and unreal.”
But their international tours have also had some wake-up calls.
While on an Asian tour in 2004, a promoter took the cast and crew to the beach on Boxing Day when a tsunami grew from an earthquake under the Indian Ocean.
Luckily, the company members were unharmed but were shaken from the scene that left 230,000 people dead in 14 countries.
The experience “is a reminder to live my dreams now,” Falle said. “You have to be grateful for each day that goes by. It’s a gift.”
Now, the South Surrey resident performs up to 10 times a month at public and private events, and manages Moon Coin with his wife, Jeanette O’Keeffe.
It oversees a dozen stage shows including ABRA Cadabra; The Piano Man, an Elton John tribute; and the Moon Coin Show Band — all of which will be presented at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver in Coquitlam on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31.
Falle promises a full show with dancers, costume changes and an 11-piece band for guests to boogie to. “There’s going to be lots of crowd interaction and, at midnight, we’ll have a balloon drop and confetti. It’s going to be the best time.”
As for playing before their hometown crowd, Falle and Takahashi are stoked.
“It’s going to be high energy and a genuine love of the music and performance,” Takahashi said. “We’re going to do what we do best and give respect to the music. People want to hear the hits and that’s exactly what we’re gong to give them.”
Added Falle, “The music of ABBA seems to transcend age and culture. It doesn’t matter where we go, people know all the words to the songs…. We don’t impersonate ABBA. We celebrate them and keep their music alive because we’re fans, too.”
• For tickets at $69.50 to the New Year’s Eve show in the Molson Canadian Theatre at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver (2080 United Blvd., Coquitlam), visit hardrockcasinovancouver.com. Tickets to the buffet dinner and concert are $109.50.