UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017

UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017UB40 @ Genting Arena, 15 December, 2017

UB40 have been playing their smooth yet rootsy blend of music together for over 30 years to critical global success, and it shows.

Heralded by the band’s signature pulsating drums and lazy sax, the show opened with ‘Food for Thought’. Although Duncan Campbell is not an exact replica of his brother, the vibrant tones of his vocals were more than good enough for the Genting crowd who responded with raucous applause to this seminal track; this vibe seemed to characterise the evening. Duncan Campbell referred to the crowd as ‘friends’ and it certainly did feel like a party with the crowd dancing and singing along to tunes like ‘Come Back Darling’ and ‘Cherrio Baby.’

After skimming the high notes, the band introduced new tracks showcasing a fresher, more modern tone in tunes such as ‘Midnight Rider’, which included a spotlight on Travers’ and his mesmerising saxophone solo, and ‘Blue Eyes’ which demonstrated a slower, more mature pace.

Following this however, it was the turn of the dazzling horn section to bewitch the crowd with ‘Bring Me Your Cup’ and ‘Sing Our Own Song’. And indeed it did feel as though the band had won the right to sing their own song. From their humble Birmingham roots to global success on their own unlikely terms, UB40 are still managing to entertain and enchant this multi-generational crowd.

The ability of the band to perform in such an array of different tones was most striking, from the laconic drums and bass portraying the signature melancholy yearning familiar to UB40 to the upbeat rhythm of ‘Sweet Sensation’. The tightness of the band, honed over decades of playing together, felt like a coming together and this was no more apparent than in their rendition of Robert Palmer’s ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ .

The show built up to its climatic end with a much-appreciated burst of energy with ‘Reggae Music’, ‘Baby’ and ‘Boom Shaka’ which really kicked up the party atmosphere. Everyone on stage seemed to enjoy a time in the spotlight and it felt far more equal than in days gone by. Gone are the egos, it’s all about the music and having a good time.

But of course, no UB40 show would be complete without a performance of ‘Red Red Wine’, the band playing those familiar lyrics and chords that come so easily after all these years. The crowd went wild and you could almost feel the triggering of old memories and indeed the creation of new ones.

Seeing the remaining original members of the band together on stage together represented something so quintessentially Brummie and, although the synthesised keyboards seem somewhat out of date in modern music, it felt oh so right, like a well-worn reggae adorned glove.

Reviewer: Sharon Green

Photographer: Chris Bowley

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