With poor Joe Jackson out of the way, finally the UB40 boys! As Joe was finishing up his last songs, I had noticed in the corner of the stage Robin Campbell, Ali`s older brother (the former lead singer of the reggae fusion band who left recently), smoking a ciggie. I approached him, and looking at the venue (it looked sort of like a country fair fete with a large tent next door where one could eat and drink), said (in English): “Kinda strange that just a few years ago you guys were in front of thousands and thousands of people at Hyde Park for Live 8, and now you`re here in front of about 500 folks (n.b. That extraordinary event, staged again by Bob Geldof, had some pretty BIG performers, such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, The Who, Madonna, Coldplay, the original Pink Floyd members, Bill Gates, David Beckham and Robbie Williams, just to name a few!). He looked at me and said, “We play anywhere”! I also told him that I had first seen them some 20 years ago in Montreal at the St. Denis theatre, and again twice in Rome. He kind of chuckled when I said Montreal. I wished him good luck with the show, and what a fine show it really was!
The band, which dates back to the late 1970s , made up of 10 members this time at the Azzano concert, has sold some 70 million records (the name`s band comes from the British unemployment form code. The designation UB40 stood for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40). Many of the band members were unemployed at the time, ergo the reason for the band`s name). After 30 years with the band, Ali Campbell left due to “management difficulties”. The band's new album, “Twentyfourseven”, UB40's last with the original lineup, was released in 2008. One of the artists with whom they`ve also worked with has been Chrissie Hynde, the former wife of Ray Davies of the Kinks (and I saw Hynde some years ago in Rome with her old band, The Pretenders!).
One of their more loyal band members was banging away with extreme precision on the drums, James (Jimmy) Brown (n.b. off to the side Jackson`s drummer was talking to his bass guitarist and commenting on Brown`s unique drumming technique).
Songs: I was QUITE satisfied as I got to hear to of my all-time fav UB40 songs, “Rat In The Kitchen” (sung by Astro on lead vocals) and no doubt everyone`s other favourite song, “Red Red Wine”, which is a cover version of a Neil Diamond song. This was on their no. 1 album (UK charts), “Labour Of Love”. “I Got You Babe”, which was once made famous by Sonny and Cher, is also one of their best (with the duet by Chrissie Hynde and Ali Campbell), not to mention also Their most successful worldwide single release is the cover of the Elvis Presley balad, " (I Can`t Help) Falling In Love With You” which was also the main title to Sharon Stone`s 1993 movie “Sliver” and was a number one hit across Europe and the U.S.
Always a very, very classy act UB40 , NO matter where you see them (all pics by M. Rimati)!