Gallery & Review: UB40, Wolverhampton Racecourse

Over 6,000 people packed out Wolverhampton Racecourse to see reggae legends UB40.

The band played hits old and tracks from their new album Getting Over The Storm.

The venue’s annual music offering away from the function room circuit last year featured Scouting For Girls which, for attendance, the 2014 upgrade nigh on doubled.

If left managing director David Roberts delighted with a resounding success for his brand, after a conscious choice paid off in spades.

They are getting innovative in their plans to broaden the minds of their nearby audience - and haven’t ruled out bringing future plans past the confines of this year.

He said: “I think we have provided value for money, which is most important in this day and age. It was £25 to get in the door and £10 for under-18s with the racing,too.

“We were pleased with what we managed to door with live outdoor music last year, but we really wanted to provide something special this year.

“We chose the band, UB40 where who we wanted and I believed they are absolutely perfect for the venue and so it proved.

“It’s nothing new, live music on a race ground, but it’s more likely to be in a function room. We could be tapping into a different market.”

There’s a turf war going on between the original members of UB40, inspired by the unemployment benefit code they used to claim.

So there’s now two versions of the band, the other of which comprises original lead singer Ali Campbell, ‘Rat In Mi Kitchen’ rapper Astro and Mickey Virtue on the keyboards.

It’s left doubt whether what’s left of the starting line-up are still authentic. They have downsized, true, but there’s still only two who weren’t there to begin with.

Trumpeter Laurence Perry joined the band in 1994, so it’s not as if he doesn’t know the beat. Lead singer Duncan Campbell is Ali’s brother.

It’s the blend of reggae and old school rhythm 'n' blues that made them what they are and they all have a share in that, the unsung heroes Brian Travers, Earl Falconer and Norman Hassan.

And on Friday they didn't disappoint their crowd.

They performed classics including Watchdogs, Sweet Cherrie, Cherry Oh Baby and Higher Ground to start with, which saw the crowd reciting every word.

They also played some of their more recent songs off their newest album including Midnight Rider and Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain.

See also: Interview: Brian Travers, UB40

Homely Girl was followed by saxophone player Brian Travers dedicating Kingston Town to his ‘Wolverhampton brothers and sisters’, which was received with a roar of applause and the crowd leading the singing.

Bassist Ernie was thrown into the spotlight when he rapped on Reggae Music, which followed with percussionist Norman Hassan leading on Boom Shaka Laka and hyping up the crowd by getting them to shout with him.

And it was the most recognisable hit, Red Red Wine, which spanned the generations, with young children in the audience singing along with as much passion as people twice their age.

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UB40 were pleased to play on ‘home soil’ saying that it was ‘dead nice to be home’ and still got fans screaming despite original lead singer Ali Campbell departing from the group leaving his brother Duncan to take over on lead vocals.

An encore of Love Is All Is Alright was also rapturously received, while the Wolverhampton crowd were left wanting more and singing their favourite reggae hits in the queues out of the racecourse.

By Jody Ball and Craig Birch

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