By Theo Destin
After an eight year hiatus, UB40 returns to North America. The Grammy nominated reggae/pop band UB40, formed in 1979 within the cultural hotbed of Birmingham, England, gained initial acclaim for their ‘new wave’ twist on conventional reggae. This notable sound, along with a humble image proved to be a success critically and commercially, evidenced by their selling of over 70 million records worldwide. Their current US tour, notable for featuring the return of the original ensemble of the unmistakable vocalist Ali Campbell, exceedingly talented percussionist and vocalist Astro, and outstanding keyboardist Mickey Virtue. Their tour kicked off September 19th earlier this year and continues to serve as both an introduction to younger generations and a pleasant reminiscence for those already familiar.
L’Etage Magazine joined the legion of lifelong fans over the weekend of October 24th in Fort Lauderdale’s atmospheric Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center of The Performing Arts, to celebrate the comeback of “Britain’s Favorite Reggae Band”. One would expect a band within the last few dates of their extensive tour to be sapped of that necessary energy and charisma, leading to a contrived, but adequate night. This assertion was promptly dismissed as the group made their way to the stage to perform a charismatic outing of the Labor of Love II hits “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)” followed by an equally enthralling “Homey Girl”.
The crowd was treated to an elaborate mixing of fan favorites, deep cuts, and even material from the respected member’s solo album (Ali Campbell with the title track of his 2014 album “Silhouette” and also “Cyber Bully Boy”). Among the tracks presented included “Cherry O Baby”, the oft-covered “(I Can’t Help)Falling in Love with You”, “One in Ten”, “Food for Thought”, “Rat in Mi Kitchen” (a notable lead vocal by Astro) and the night was closed by encore performances of “Kingston Town” and the instantly recognizable and concert staple that is “Red, Red Wine”.
Given a band that has been together for over 35 years, one can ultimately make the unfair assumption that whatever show the band can put on will not match the energy of their earlier days. UB40 has done what few of their contemporaries have managed to do, which is not only matching their prior shows, but arguably exceed in terms of entertainment and interaction with their beloved followers.
A few lucky fans were granted the opportunity to attend a meet and greet with the band before the show, during which fans were able to take a picture with Ali, Astro and Mickey. Those lucky few were also presented with an autographed photo, autographed CD copy of UB40’s new album:
UB40 Greatest Hits – Live and a limited edition tour shirt. During the meet and greet, Ali told L’Etage Magazine that “they were having a great time on tour”, and after the highly successful performance from the dynamic trio South Florida are looking forward to the band stopping by again soon.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge pictures)