UB40: Here I am

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Round two: (from left) Mickey, Ali and Astro

Come hell or high water, this time UB40 will play their first Queenstown concert.

After the resort turned on the waterworks earlier this year their gig at Waitiri Creek Winery had to be canned.

But they were adamant about coming back to play.

Ali Campbell, who fronts the band with his silky-smooth voice and guitar in hand, is joined by Astro (Terence Wilson) on the trumpet and Mickey Virtue on keys.

The Red Red Wine Vineyard Tour, the same name last summer’s tour, took a while for Campbell to get off the ground.

For about six or seven years nobody was interested in promoting it”, he says.

But now the show has wings – concertgoers are obviously loving it.

In January more than 35,000 turned out for their gigs, including a sold-out Auckland show.

Campbell: “The winery tour was a stroke of genius on my part because I’ve never had such fun, stayed in the most beautiful places and lodges – so it’s all good.”

He reminisces times touring in the back of a bus compared to now when “luxury” travel and accommodation is the norm.

The Waitiri Creek gig wasn’t the only show that was cancelled on their last tour. They had to pull out of a concert in Columbia as well.

It’s always nice, if something goes wrong and you have to cancel, to go back and do it.”

Campbell reassures the combo of rain and lightning could have been lethal.

No gig is worth dying for – even though we’re the best reggae band in the world.”

This year they’ve got a better canopy for their stage should the weather turn foul.

But if it completely rains on their parade there’s a back-up option.

By the time UB40 arrive in the resort they will be fresh off the plane from their New Year’s Eve gig in Taupo and Martinborough on January 2.

That follows a South African tour.

Campbell: “By the time we get to New Zealand we’ll be well-rehearsed and ready to rock n’ roll.”

With a heap of hits up their sleeve the tour is all of their greatest hits “and maybe a few surprise songs”.

The band released an unplugged album in November covering off their big hits from days gone by.

UB40 play Waitiri Creek – Gibbston, January 5, general admission tickets available on Eventfinda – $99. All ages.

mandy.cooper@scene.co.nz