UB40 performing their Cities And Towns Tour at The Genting Arena Birmingham on Friday 15th December 2017.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

In late 1978 two brothers and their friends from Birmingham got together to form UB40 which went on to become one of the most celebrated British reggae and pop bands of all times, selling over 70 million records worldwide. Since then founding members, Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue have all left the band, leaving brother Duncan to fill the lead vocals spot. And what a great job he did.

Last night it was a genuine welcome that saw the band return to Birmingham to play the Genting Arena, and from the start they belted out their instantly recognisable songs. Four years after the release of their last album, Getting Over The Storm, the band are currently back in the limelight with an extensive run of UK concerts as part of their Cities And Towns Tour, and they invited the Genting Arena to party along with them.

Whilst Duncan Campbell’s voice is never going to be the same as that of his brother Ali, what he does do is make their famous songs his very own. He was ably assisted by founding members Robin on guitar, bassist Earl Falconer, drummer Jimmy Brown, percussionist Norman Hassan and the absolutely subliminal Brian Travers on saxophone. Along with touring musicians, Parry, Meredith and Mullings the stage was crowded with talent.

Opening with Food For Thought, everyone including the band was instantly dancing. Partying to some of their old favourites, between Maybe Tomorrow and a rousing Come Back Darling, Robin gave a big shout out to the crowd, telling them that ‘it was great to be back’ as he described the Genting crowd as being one big happy family.

And that family were certainly happy to be there, as songs like the all time classic Cherry Oh Baby got them all in the groove before they went back to the reggae basics with a foot stomping new song, Midnight Rider which saw Brian Travers owning the stage with his magnificent sweet sounding saxophone.

Other new song Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain was instantly recognisable, whilst Sing Our Own Song was a particular highlight and when everything was slowed down for the delightful Sweet Sensation, it was clear why this band still has so many fans as their mellow guitar, drums, brass section and lyrics reverberated around the arena.

There was a beautiful rendition of the late Robert Palmer’s I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight which showcased just how far Duncan has come in taking the lead, whilst Here I Am (Come And Take Me) and Red Red Wine defied anyone to keep still. With Travers taking centre stage with his subliminal saxophone playing, the fans simply lapped up the current group’s repertoire of quality songs.

For the encore there was the lovely Don’t Break My Heart before Travers stood on the stage with his arms outstretched to say ‘there’s no place like home’ before the instantly recognisable notes of Kingston Town had everyone singing. Delighting everyone with a fantastic cover of (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love the party was brought to a reluctant end.

This iconic band who named themselves after an unemployment form, and who will celebrate their 40th anniversary next year, certainly knew how to please from start to finish. This appreciative crowd left the arena to go home in a cold rainy night already waiting for their next party invite.