UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue at Arena Birmingham - review

By Kirsten Rawlins | Birmingham | Music | Published:

They’re one of Birmingham’s biggest exports - and last night it was clearly A Labour of Love when UB40 put on a tremendous show in their home town.

Ali Campbell

The lively concert saw thousands of reggae fans get their weekend started with a bang; springing to their feet, singing and dancing from the moment the music began - and not stopping until the near two-hour gig had ended.

This great energy, from the band and crowd alike, made for a superb atmosphere and a most memorable evening.

Filled to the brim with beloved hits, the Arena Birmingham show formed part of an international tour marking the band’s 40 years in the music industry and the release of 2018 album A Real Labour of Love.

And though he may have been in the business for four decades, frontman Ali Campbell was every bit the singer and performer he always has been; his voice impressing at every turn with stunning tone and wonderful range.

Fellow founding member Astro looked and sounded great too - and both of them were clearly delighted to be back performing in Birmingham.

"Birmingham made me," beamed Ali, aged 60. "I love Birmingham. It's great to be back."


Astro, meanwhile, paid tribute to late Brummie star Ranking Roger from two-tone band The Beat, while also welcoming fans and encouraging them to ‘party’.


Each and every rendition was faultless and performed with passion, from early 80s hits Food For Thought and One In Ten, through to a selection of covers from their latest album, including superb performances of Beres Hammond’s She Loves Me Now, International Herb by Culture and Telephone Love by J C Lodge.

The encore saw the band play some of reggae’s biggest hits; Kingston Town, Many Rivers To Cross, Falling In Love With You and, of course, Red, Red Wine, each of them going down an absolute storm with the adoring crowd.

“Thanks for coming, thanks for dancing,” said Astro, as the show drew to a close.

“We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.”

An outstanding evening of excellence and effortless perfection - and certainly a show I won’t forget any time soon.

Kirsten Rawlins

By Kirsten Rawlins

Digital Content Manager for the Shropshire Star and Express & Star. Also reviews concerts and events, as well as writing features and celebrity interviews. E-mail me at, or phone 01952 241440.


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