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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Mamma Mia! Abba tribute’s new recruit

An Abba tribute band from Alsager that is playing a charity concert in Congleton this summer has decided to “take a chance” on a new Benny.

Software developer Darren Roberts, (48), of Middlewich, plans to join UK Bjorn as the keyboard player, taking the role of Benny Andersson, and will start performing with the band in the summer.

After saying “I do, I do, I do, I do, I do” to the role, Mr Roberts will need to learn 25 songs from the band’s repertoire before performing on stage for the first time at Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival in June.

He told The Chronicle he was “excited about the challenge”.

Kerri Robinson, (46), who plays the part of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, explained that they sent out their first SOS last summer when their current Benny, Jeremy Jones, decided it was time to hang up his flares after turning 64 this year.

She said: “It was all getting a bit too much for him. It’s an awful lot of lifting and carrying. He loves it otherwise and he would have stayed, but it was just too tiring.”

Mrs Robinson, whose husband Steve Robinson, (54), plays Björn Ulvaeus in the band, said it was important for them to take their time finding a new member.

She said: “We weren’t just looking for a keyboard player, we needed someone who could perform and not be stagnant. The real Benny was a bit of a headbanger on stage, so that’s where it’s been a real struggle to find the right person.”

The Super Trouper singer continued: “We also wanted to find someone based locally, because we try to keep performances no more than two hours from home.”

But the most important thing for Mr and Mrs Robinson and fellow performer Cat De Sousa, (45), who plays the role of Agnetha Fältskog, was finding someone to fit in with the group socially.

“With band members, you spend so much time together, you have to be able to get on and bounce off one another,” she said. “So, it was important that we met for a drink first.”

She added: “We’ve seen lots of videos of him playing. He’s clearly a great musician and he fits in the costumes, too, which is a bonus.”

Mr Roberts was made aware of the position by friends, who showed him the post on social media, saying it would be “perfect for him”. After performing for many years at venues around Middlewich, the keen keyboard-player had been wanting to join a band for a while and jumped at the chance.

“Everyone loves an Abba band, don’t they?” he said.

“I do a bit of pop, rock everything from Elton John to covers of Madonna or Michael Jackson, and a few of my own original songs as well.”

The software developer added: “I haven’t ventured much further than Middlewich. The main stage at the folk and boat festival is what I’ve always wanted to do. I never thought I’d actually get there, so that’s just a bonus.”

The band will perform at the Georgia Leigh Ogden Foundation charity event on Friday, 7th July at Rumba in Congleton. All proceeds from the Mama Mia Party will go to the foundation, which helps to support young people in Cheshire and Staffordshire.
Georgia, of Congleton, died aged 17 when the car she was a passenger in collided with a truck on the A34 at Astbury in 2020.

Photo: Kerri Robinson.

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