Since their first performance on Canada Day, ‘ABBA Soo’ members Mark Allemang, Kerry Beacock, Janet Brown and David Repath have been raising sold-out audiences
They’ve got the look, they’ve got the sound, and most importantly, they’ve got the fun.
The four members of a burgeoning ABBA tribute band are quickly making a name for themselves in the city since their first performance at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion on Canada Day.
Called “ABBA Soo”, singers Janet Brown and Kerry Beacock, along with keyboardist Mark Allemang and guitarist David Repath, have come together to recreate the musical styles of the popular Swedish supergroup.
The tribute band was formed almost three years ago by literally putting two and two together.
Beacock and Allemang have played together in “Touch of Class” for more than 30 years, while Brown and Repath hail from “Encore,” a local party rock cover band.
Allemang first considered the idea of an ABBA tribute in the summer of 2019, but it didn’t come without hesitation.
“We thought about doing ABBA songs before, but it was too complicated,” he says. “I started listening to their songs and playing keyboards. I then talked to Kerry about the possibility of forming an ABBA tribute band.
“I texted him, ‘you caught my eye,'” Beacock says.
A friend of Allemang contacted Brown to see if she would be interested in being one of the singers in the group. She then contacted Encore member Repath and hired him to be the band’s guitarist.
Once the group was formed, its members began to channel their inner ABBA.
“Some of the songs they had never heard before,” Allemang says. “I’m really passionate about harmonies, so I would give them their harmonies and then figure out who’s going to sing what. I even sent them ABBA documentaries so they could learn more about the band.
“With ABBA, there are so many different harmonies,” Beacock adds. “We are only four. You have to choose some parts to make it fit together, and there are still parts missing. But the parts we managed to put together make it complete. It’s a fun challenge.
Allemang says it was the harmonies and keyboards that first got him interested in ABBA’s music.
In the early months of 2020, the band was ready to start practicing when COVID disrupted their momentum. Although they’ve been apart for months, that hasn’t stopped them from finding creative ways to work out.
“We did a lot of things remotely during COVID,” says Allemang. “I would do the track and the keyboard parts and send it to the band, and they would take the track, play it through headphones, sing into their phones, and send their vocal recordings back to me. Dave would do the same on guitar. Then I would put it all together.
The quartet began meeting in the fall of 2021, holding in-person practices weekly.
“We really enjoy the band’s rehearsals,” Repath says. “We accomplish a lot of things.”
After learning 23 songs and building a lighting system with Bluetooth interface, ABBA Soo made his debut at the Pavilion on Canada Day.
Performing classic hits like ‘Waterloo’, ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Mamma Mia’, the tribute band had audience members – young and old – dancing and singing throughout the evening.
“The audience moves from the second bar of the first song,” Repath says. “It’s almost emotional.”
Towards the end of their first live performance as a group, ABBA Soo received a standing ovation and the hundreds of people in attendance demanded that they play an encore song.
The bandmates were amazed.
“We were blown away,” says Brown. “What we got from the audience – the standing ovation – it was just amazing.”
“We’ve played together for a long time and we’ve never had this before,” adds Allemang. “When you watch ABBA tributes on YouTube, they don’t have as much fun as we do.”
The band have received a similar reception at some of their most recent shows like the Summer Concert Series, as well as two back-to-back sold-out nights at the Water Tower Pub last weekend.
The band members credit their teamwork skills and genuine love for one another as the catalyst for their early success.
“These three are amazing, everyone contributes so much,” Beacock says. “Our families have been so supportive of everything we do. We’re so lucky, it’s just a fantastic hobby.
“Music can be a gift for life whether you can sing or not,” adds Repath. “It can take you to different places in your own life. I have the impression that with these three people, I create new moments of life all the time.
ABBA Soo hopes to perform on New Years Eve at the casino, and they have had discussions about expanding their network by attending summer festivals in Northern Ontario in the future.