Founding UB40 trio back together and heading for Sheffield

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Three founding members of one of Britain’s biggest reggae bands are reunited and coming to Sheffield.

UB40 have survived more than 30 years in the music business, clocking up more than 70 million record sales worldwide with songs such as Kingston Town and Red Red Wine.

However, recent history has been chequered.

Lead singer Ali Campbell and keyboard player Mickey Virtue quit the band in 2008, with Ali replaced by his brother Duncan, although the band continues to perform – and will play Doncaster Racecourse this summer.

Another founding member – rapper Terence ‘Astro’ Wilson – quit in 2013 before reuniting with Ali and Mickey to perform, also under the UB40 name.

And it is ‘UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue’ who play Sheffield City Hall on Monday.

The trio says: “We can’t wait to get back on the road. The response from the fans has been overwhelming and we can’t wait to play new material from our new album Silhouette, as well as all those classics – 100 per cent reggae, 100 per cent UB40.”

And Ali has no plans to reunite with his brother and former bandmates in ‘the other UB40’.

“I am very happy with the way things are going,” he says.

“The other UB40 did a Country and Western record, which did hideously badly. I am still promoting reggae.

“Astro and me are back together. It feels like UB40 again. We coming out to play to very passionate crowds that are really happy we’re back together.

“And I think I have got the hottest reggae band on the road. I’ve been enjoying playing with these guys for years now.”

Promising a show to belie his age, the 56-year-old says: “There’s a lot of energy and they energise us, We feed off their energy and it’s a very energetic set.

“It’s a set of greatest hits. In the 80s and 90s we had 40 top 20 hits, so there are plenty to choose from. It’s a great set that everyone can enjoy.”

“The people who come out to see us want to hear Red Red Wine and Kingston Town and the like and that’s what they get, but there’s always four or five new songs from the new album.”

Ali has a lot of affection for Sheffield, going back to the early days.

“We used to have a little crew that used to follow us around from Sheffield,” he says. “They became friends of ours. We picked them up the first time we played and they came around with us. We had all this little mobs travelling around for us.

“I talk about it with affection, but they were hard old days, living in bedsits.

“We became more successful and now touring is a very different thing. We stay in five-star hotels, fly first class. It’s still a lot of fun, but it’s a lot more comfortable, but it needs to be, because we’re a lot older.”

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue play Sheffield City Hall on Monday, April 20. For tickets, priced £32.50, see

www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk