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Live review: UB40 at the O2 Academy Bristol

Birmingham reggae band UB40 finally made it to Bristol earlier this month (8 November) for a sold out show at the O2 Academy.

Having missed out on the last couple of UB40 tours, Bristol has been long-overdue a visit from the legendary group and judging by the fans queuing up around the block to get in early, demand to see them remains high.

Inside the venue a 45-minute technical delay certainly got under the skin of a lot of those supporters, but once the academy crew managed to sort the problem out, the raucous atmosphere quickly turned more joyous.

Nearly two hours of tropical vibes followed with a setlist pretty evenly split between new and old tunes.

Among the ‘new’ tracks from their latest offering, Getting Over The Storm, versions of “Midnight Rider”, title track “Getting Over the Storm” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” lent themselves particularly well to reggaefication.

The loudest cheers predictably came for the deep and heavy UB40 back-catalogue with the likes of “Red Red Wine”, “Kingston Town” and “(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You” singalongs during the encore.

Among the big hits, songs from the band’s early musical style were also aired including “Love Is All Is Alright”, “One In Ten” and “Dream A Lie,” the first song the band wrote together.

Front of stage performances from percussionist Norman Hassan and bass player Earl Falconer came as a welcome meander during the show. The latter’s energising mic skills were a counter-point to the more leisurely, laid back style of frontman Duncan Campbell.

Despite a cracking set, the band was clearly also frustrated with the technical delay, and in particular Brian Travers and Robin Campbell took it upon themselves to apologise for an issue that was out of their hands.

Around 2,000 UB40 fans were spitting feathers that evening, but by curfew time I’m pretty sure that most of those had forgiven or forgotten any earlier grumblings.

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