Did you know there are two UB40’s out there? I know, confusing, right? And with Duncan (original frontman Ali’s Campbells brother) looking very much like Ali on the posters, for those who didn’t know the history and hadn’t done their research until shortly beforehand *head down in shame* you might think you were seeing the original lineup.
With management disputes being cited as the reason for Ali leaving back in 2008, along with Mickey and then Astro it appears things have not been peachy in the UB40 camp for some time. Things didn’t improve when Robin Campbell invited in Brother Duncan to replace Ali on the stage, this was not cool in Ali’s eyes and he has since reformed with Mickey and Astro. This long long standing feud between both bands has meant that they both are now claiming stakes to the name UB40 and touring as such. It seems we are all a little confused as to who UB40 actually are.
But putting aside my recent findings of the family dramas, the excitement of seeing a band who own the soundtrack to one of my first childhood memories, was enough for me to begin wailing ‘Red, red wine’ at anyone who asked me what I was doing that night. Yep, I’m a big fan and as it was being held at Hard Rock Hotel I was sure the gig would be as stand out as I’d heard the setting was.
The venue is beautiful, no doubt about that but the stage seemed pretty uninspiring, especially as the warm up act, DJ Gold, barely got the atmosphere past luke warm. When the music suddenly stopped while he fiddled around behind the decks, the thin on the ground crowd were left to engage in their own conversations and sing UB40 tracks across the dance floor at each other.
At 22.30 the lights went down the camera phones went up and UB40 made their grand entrance. Brian Travers was pretty spectacular and a real showman on his saxophone, working with the crowd to get the atmosphere to finally pick up. The crowd were loving it, singing each classic back at the band and pulling off some of their reggae moves in time. Duncan gave a great effort, but soon enough rumour’s went round the crowd that he was miming and as the sound system was so bad, I didn’t even need someone to heave someone tell me; I could hear it from the conversation across the other side of the dance floor.
Over the next 90 minutes they brought us some of the tracks from their new album, which the crowd responded well to but of course it was the old classics, Red, Red Wine, Homely Girl, Kingston Town, The Way You Do The Things You Do, that got the much fuller crowd into a reggae fuelled frenzy. It was great to be at a performance where you could sense that the songs meant something to each person in the crowd. Yes the sound system was naff and me watching Duncan’s lip synching like a hawk did make it lose some of its edge for me, but having such a legendary group (even if it was half the band) performing in Ibiza was a real treat. Chatting to the crowd afterwards and they all had a similar response; that it was just great to be at a gig where even if the bands might be fighting. The great songs could still win through.