A group that has helped define several generations, from late Baby Boomers to early Millenials, UB40 knows how to mix it up and sing it out. Having been performing for over 30 years, these British reggae artists, who named their group after an old unemployment form in the UK, have had #1 albums, multiple Top 10 gold and platinum-selling albums, and several Grammy nominations.
Their rising popularity meant they couldn’t help selling a total of 70 million plus albums. A German website, laut.de, even called them the “worker bees of the international music market.” Why? Because by the time they had released their 2008 album TwentyFourSeven, UB40 had produced a new album roughly every 15 months for a total of 24 albums. (And they didn’t stop there either.)
The original UB40 group split a few years ago into two. The group performing at the Centre includes Ali, the iconic lead singer whose voice you hear in your head when you sing their hits, vocalist Astro, and keyboard player Mickey Virtue. Their 2015 tour sold out, Toronto 2016 has sold out, and now Kitchener is the second-last stop on their 6-week 2016 tour.
Here’s an interesting fact, though: According to songfacts.com, “Red, Red Wine” was actually a cover of a Tony Tribe reggae rendition from 1969, and not of Neil Diamond’s 1967 original. Who knew?
The happy beat of reggae has spread to audiences everywhere. A reviewer for last year’s UB40 Tampa Bay show wrote, “And boy did [“Red, Red Wine” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”] go over like gangbusters on Friday night. Spontaneous dancing and sing-alongs were prevalent throughout and one audience member was even so inspired as to make his way onstage during the dynamic encore to hop up and down and express his sincere enthusiasm … before being gently escorted off and away.” (Please don’t get any ideas!)
A reviewer for UB40’s concert in Manchester earlier this year wrote, “Ali ‘s voice is as flawlessly soothing live as it is on record.” The reviewer finished with these comments, “UB40 may be 38 years old but like the red, red wine they extol the virtues of, they’ve matured to perfection.”
UB40 audiences are a rare breed: they can be in their 20s, they can be in their 70s, but all they want is to have a good time singing along with their favourite band who’s performing right in front of them, on stage, live. The show is next month, on September 1. Get your tickets now.