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UB40's Forthcoming Birmingham Shows

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Original members reunite for UK tour
These are confusing times for fans of Birmingham reggae legends UB40 as there are currently two bands touring with that name.

Six years ago frontman Ali Campbell quit UB40, leaving the rest of the band to continue recording and performing in concert with his brother Duncan as singer.

Ali has now linked up again with keyboardist Mickey Virtue, who also left the band in 2008, and toaster/ rapper Astro, who quit at the end of 2013, to record and tour once again as UB40.

This second UB40 line-up plays Birmingham's O2 Academy on December 19 and Birmingham NIA on April 17, 2015, promising a setlist of greatest hits plus tracks from their forthcoming album, Silhouette, released on October 6.

UB40, Ali Campbell, Mickey Virtue, Astro
Reunited UB40 trio: Astro, Ali Campbell, Mickey Virtue

The original band formed in Birmingham in 1978 and clocked up more than 70 million record sales worldwide with songs like Kingston Town and Red Red Wine.

Taking their name from the British unemployment form, the band played their first local gig in Birmingham in 1979 then spent the rest of the year performing at pubs and clubs around the UK.

Radio legend John Peel was so impressed with the group's first demo tape he invited them to perform on his Radio One show in 1980. At the same time UB40 was asked to support The Pretenders on their triumphant national tour.

They released albums Signing Off in 1980 and Present Arms in 1981. Their breakthrough came with the hit single, a cover of Neil Diamond's Red Red Wine. The song topped the British singles charts in 1983 and, after renewed promotion following the 1988 Nelson Mandela Concert, the single reached the number one spot in the US.

UB40, Ali Campbell, Mickey Virtue, Astro
UB40 Mark 2: Mickey, Ali & Astro

Touring America and Canada in 1985, the group celebrated another hit single, I Got You Babe, recorded with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders.

1993's platinum selling album, Promises and Lies, spawned the hit Can't Help Falling in Love, which topped the US chart for seven consecutive weeks. The subsequent tour culminated in a series of shows in South Africa, with them dedicating their anti-apartheid anthem, Sing Our Own Song, to President Nelson Mandela.

Getting Over The Storm: 2013's UB40 line-up before Astro (right) left (pic: Tony Mottram)

Since 2008, when Ali and Mickey left, the original UB40, which includes Ali and Duncan's brother Robin on guitar, have toured, performing Signing Off in full, and released a country-orientated album, Getting Over The Storm.

Relations between the two UB40s remain frosty but fans now have a choice and if they like both outfits it's a case of double the benefits.

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Why? Three founder members of UB40 reunited.
When: December 19, 2014 & April 17, 2015
Phone: 0121 622 8250 (O2 Academy); 0121 780 4141(NIA)
Where: Birmingham O2 Academy & Birmingham National Indoor Arena
Cost: 37.20 plus fees (NIA); O2 Academy - returns only
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