• Mark Fraser

UB40. Gosford Entertainment Grounds. Feb. 9, 2019

UB 40

Reggae is the flavour of tonight and a thousand odd Maori UB40 tragics peppering the crowd, can’t be wrong.

It’s a great outdoor stage setup...with bar queues from here to Rotorua at times…but the AC and the front-on stands are a very civilised means for enjoying a gig. Summer is well and truly here, and tonight it feels damned good. 

To bring you up to date, this is UB40, featuring original members  Ali Campbell and Astro. Ali scored the lead vocalist spot when the band first started way back in 1978/79…a role his brother Duncan also went for. 

Fast forward to 2008 and Ali leaves the band, with brother Duncan stepping in. A few years later, Ali is back on the road together with Astro under the same UB40 banner. Thus, we now have two UB40s touring.

A lawsuit didn’t really change things, so to this day, two UB40s continue to tour.   

But screw politics, this is about a piece of history centred around The UK’s pop reggae stalwarts. Ali was always the voice of UB40 and tonight the fans are out en masse. A lackadaisical stage setup…and casual is the flavour of the night.

If It Happens Again is pure UB40, and as an opener it sees the crowd go nuts. There’s a comforting warmth in Homely Girl’s more laid back caress, ahead of One In Ten’s brass etched allure. Cherry Oh Baby sets it all on fire...true feel good reggie pop, complete with obligatory crowd singalong.

Astro pulls some killer facials to Just Another Girl…an infectious rendition that plods along at just the right pace. White man reggae is the modus operandi here and Campbell and crew do it so effortlessly well.

Sax riddled singalongs keep it sweaty as Ali has a break and Astro works the crowd.  A plug for the new album ,The Real Labour of Love and it’s the pure UB dripping ska-nificence of She loves Me Now that proves the timeless UB40 magic is still alive and kickin'.

Silhouette’s Marley-ish feel throws out more of that mellow seduction, whilst Fijian Sunset’s summery reggae wash is the perfect inroad to the classic infection of Kingston Town…in my mind, the true UB40 signature tune.

No UB show would be complete without Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers to Cross. Classic UB40 and the perfect one to end on.

The encore kicks in with an extended drum solo... suitable crowd frenzy…and it’s Food For Thought’s kickarse brassed reggae that keeps the hits a comin. Can’t Help Falling in Love never grows old and with that classic Jamaican flavour and its beautiful  sweeping throes., what’s not to love?

And then it’s the one they’ve all been waiting for, as Red Red Wine pops the cork for the perfect sign-off. If one song alone personifies the longevity of UB40, then this is it.

In all, an awesome smorgasbord of UB40-fied classics. The legend lives on!

Mark Fraser- redbackrock.com 

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