UB40 performing their Bigga Baggariddim Tour at Rock City Nottingham on Friday 2nd December 2022.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Forty four years ago, eight friends from Birmingham got together to form one of England’s most successful reggae bands, UB40, who went on to sell over seventy million records. But a lot of water has flowed under that bridge since then and this appearance before a packed Rock City crowd on Friday night.

After thirty years Ali left and was joined by Astro and Mickey Virtue to form their own version of the band, and the brilliant saxophonist Brian Travers passed away in 2021. Ali’s successor, his brother Duncan also retired in 2020 due to ill health.

With the remaining hard core line up of Jimmy Brown, Robin Campbell, Earl Falconer, and Norman Hassan, Matt Doyle, former lead singer with Kioko was asked to step up to the plate to replace Duncan, and the band were given a whole new lease of life. So not only were they reinvigorated on Friday night, they were on fire.

Opening with Present Arms, all that was needed were the streamers and poppers to get this party started. Touring to also promote their twentieth studio album, Bigga Baggariddim, there was a smattering of new songs such as Champion, a song written for The Commonwealth Games and The Keeper.

But with a stage filled to capacity with an additional four touring musicians, and guest Pablo Rider who dipped in and out on several songs, it was hard for the crowd to keep still. Playing songs that the crowd wanted to hear, a cover of Al Green’s Here I Am (Come And Take Me) came early in the set as did Come Back Darling.

It was impossible for the crowd to keep still for the likes of I’m Alright Jack, Bring Me Your Cup, and Cherry Oh Baby while set closer Red Red Wine had the crowd belting out the words.

With an encore that included Food For Thought, Kingston Town and Can’t Help Falling In Love, this version of UB40 showed that with their infectious energy and excellent musicianship and vocals, that they have at last steadied the waters.