UB40 featuring Ali Campbell performing their Hits Tour at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Tuesday 16th April 2024.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

The group of family and friends from Birmingham who got together in 1978 to form a band named after a government employment form, have had their well publicised and acrimonious disagreements which has resulted in founding member and front man of the original line-up touring under the banner of UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and he brought his Hits Tour to the Motorpoint Arena on Tuesday night.

Up first was the reggae, lovers’ rock and ragga singer, Bitty McLean who has previously toured with the original UB40. With a full band that included a very talented brass section, his mellow voice entertained with the likes of his hits, a cover of The Shirelles’ Dedicated To The One I Love, and Fat’s Domino’s It Keep Rainin’ (Tears From My Eyes). Other songs entertained the crowd such as We’ve Only Just Begun and Let’s Make Up which finished his too short set.

Opening with If It Happens Again to a sparse but appreciative audience, Ali’s voice has lost none of its distinctive quality. And the hits continued coming as the Arena was filled with the sound of reggae music as the likes of Food For Thought, King and Present Arms all set the pace for the rest of the set.

There was a mass sing along for The Chi-Lites Homely Girl which continued for the classic Cherry Oh Baby. Backed by a fantastic band that included a brass section that UB40 are renowned for, mid set included a number of covers such as Honey Boy’s Impossible Love, The Slickers Johnny Too Bad and Shep & The Limelites’ Stick By Me. There was a beautiful version of Would I Lie To You? which saw Bitty McLean join Ali on stage after The Way You Do The Things You Do, The Temptations 1964 timeless classic saw the crowd on their feet.

But it was the UB40 songs that are so familiar as Come Back Darling, Bring Me Your Cup and Don’t Break My Heart were all given an outing. Finishing the main set with the awesome Many Rivers To Cross, the encore saw the whole crowd singing as the familiar sounds of One In Ten, Kingston Town and Red Red Wine, the reggae infused rendition of Neil Diamond’s song filled the Arena.

Finishing with the band’s well known and loved cover of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love, Ali must have considered hanging up his guitar after the departure of Mickey Virtue and the passing of his long time friend Astro, but like many of UB40’s songs, he’s likely to be around for some time yet.