Gig review: UB40 at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Since the beginning of their career in 1978, UB40 have gained a massive number of fans worldwide, quickly becoming one of the most celebrated British reggae bands.


Following the release of their debut album “Singing Off” in 1980, the band have continued to hit one success after another, scoring their first UK chart-topping album ‘Labour of Love’ in 1983, followed by ‘Promises and Lies’ in 1993.

Four years after their last record, “Getting Over the Storm”, the band are currently back in the limelight this month with an extensive run of UK concerts as part of their ‘Cities and Towns Tour’.

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OK, it’s not the original line-up without legendary frontman Ali Campbell, but this was a brilliant night of live music nonetheless played out in a wonderful, happy atmosphere.

The iconic Birmingham-based outfit, who named themselves after an unemployment form and will celebrate their 40th anniversary next year, know how to please their crowd from start to finish.

We were fully entertained by all their old favourites and a couple of tracks from their new album.

Much-loved songs such as Red Red Wine, I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You and Kingston Town went down a storm, prompting a mass singalong from the adoring crowd.

The band retains its key founding members Robin Campbell (co-lead vocals and guitar), Earl Falconer (bass and vocals), Brian Travers (sax and keyboards), Jimmy Brown (drums), Norman Hassan (percussion and vocals) and since 2008 they have been joined by lead singer Duncan Campbell who took over singing duties from his brother Ali.

The band also features Martin Meredith (sax) and Lawrence Parry (trumpet), who have both been in UB40’s touring line-up for over 20 years, and Tony Mullins (keyboards).

Between them they create a genre-defining synergy of horns and rhythm that are uniquely UB40.

Other notable hits such as Food For Thought, Cherry Oh Baby and Here I am were similarly rapturously received during a memorable evening.