Vulture Hound was at The Birmingham Institute on the 18th April to see “UB40” amid a confusing whirlwind of childish bickering, tension and litigation.
Ignoring the drama for the moment, and concentrating on the show itself, the night went off without a single hitch. The crowd were in, with both feet. Filling the exquisite and lavishly detailed room to bursting, the audience were having a blast! At the end of the night there had to be some swollen feet, judging by the constant swaying of the crowd. Dancing even when there’s no actual space to, but obviously.. no one’s complaining..
The tunes, although to an unfamiliar ear each song sounds the same, were executed with clarity and pizazz, props to the wind section, which kept the energy up throughout the set. Eyes often focused on the especially enthusiastic Bongo player aka Wagner look-a-like, who was dancing and singing throughout the entire show. The vocals, were flawless, sounding just like you’d expect UB40 to sound, the performance noted by some, was subtle and unassuming, which is both endearing and slightly anti-climactic of a front-man at a live show. A few may have mused, this isn’t the way I remember UB40 looking.. So after the show research began..
25TH FEBRUARY 2014
“FOLLOWING THE STATEMENT BY OUR EX-COLLEAGUES AND CO-MUSICIANS IN UB40, WE WOULD LIKE TO REPLY WITH A CLARIFICATION OF THE SITUATION.
Ali Campbell and Astro Wilson are the two longtime vocalists who sang on all the previous UB40 albums and UB40 hits, (prior to the Country and Western album that the remaining members saw fit to record a matter of months ago). Campbell and Astro ARE the voices of UB40 – they created the sound on record and on stage. Anyone going to a concert by the remaining five will be treated to merely a karaoke version of how the band did indeed sound, with a replacement singer who has never recorded a previous UB40 album and is no part of the UB40 history. There is only one vocal sound for UB40 and only two genuine vocalists and it is us.
We have a legal right to use the name UB40 and we intend to do so. The only deception being committed here is by them, purporting to be a band that recorded the albums and songs that our loyal fans have bought over many years.
We sing reggae, songs we recorded as UB40, plus new material. UB40 is who we are and the fans can judge for themselves.”
JANUARY 23RD 2014
“FOLLOWING THE ANNOUNCEMENT BY THREE FORMER MEMBERS OR UB40 OF THEIR INTENTION TO ‘REFORM’ TO RECORD A NEW ALBUM AND TO PERFORM LIVE UNDER THE NAME UB40, THE FIVE FOUNDING MEMBERS OF UB40 WISH TO MAKE THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT”
“We are outraged at this latest desperate attempt by our former band mates to hijack UB40’s band name, business and legacy. As UB40 we have worked continuously for the last 35 years touring the world with our live show and promoting our recorded albums. “
“As our fans know, Ali Campbell left UB40 six years ago citing issues with the band’s management, and has since pursued a solo career. In that time Ali has repeatedly attempted to discredit his brothers and former band mates, through the media and otherwise, but this latest attempt to confuse and manipulate UB40‘s fans is, frankly, pathetic. We are disappointed that he feels it necessary to behave in this way and equally disappointed that Astro has joined with him.”
“UB40‘s five remaining founding members Robin Campbell, Brian Travers, Jimmy Borwn, Earl Falconer and Norman Hassan will be touring extensively throughout 2014.”
“As for Ali, Mickey and Astro, the matter is now in the hands of our lawyers”.
This situation raises a long standing question- the Axl Rose conundrum- does a front-man a band make?
To the audience that night, it didn’t seem to matter. Every tune was received with familiarity and love, and the sound was UB40.
Both on tour now, check out the UB40‘s at www.ub40.co.uk and www.ub40.org.