They’re arguably one of Birmingham’s biggest exports – and last night it was clearly A Labour of Love when UB40 put on a tremendous show in Nairobi graced by President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga.
Words: Embukane Libosso
Pulling into the Carnivore grounds on Saturday night to an uplifted and inspired group of concertgoers and reggae lovers cutting across generations was the perfect way to kick off the weekend and start February, the month of love with a bang! Kenya’s reggae crooner, Lavosti is quick to meet us up. He just left the stage and we are so bummed for missing his set. With the music breather, the crowd springs to its feet once more, singing and dancing from the moment the music begins as we anticipate the headliners. There is something about this great energy, from the crowd, that makes for a superb atmosphere and without a doubt the most memorable evening.
While the threat of rain existed, the showers of blessing were not holding anyone back from attending this historical moment. UB40 with Ali Campbell and Astro brought the people of Nairobi exactly what they needed–some celebration of the real labour of love!
“UB40’s number one fan is in the building,” beamed the celebrated media personality host, Jeff Koinange. “Mr. President, we are going back 40 years in time. Nairobi, are you ready?”
An outstanding evening of excellence and effortless perfection awaited us once the band decked on the dark stage, full of energy and ready to kick-start the show. The band which includes a brilliant horn section covering every inch of the stage are first to take the stage with Ali Campbell and Astro greeting the crowds. The lights come on and the show, the party kicks off and the crowd is once again on their feet.
The band finds its connection with the full voice sing-along audience, encouraging singing, clapping and dancing. Those who came to hear the band’s most recognized songs got what they wanted. For the younger generation, the sense of satisfaction from the music is overwhelming. Astro’s mic issues rectified, the emotions and beautiful harmonies, coupled with the hit after hit delivery proves a point. 40 years on and they still got it.
Ali Campbell’s quick switches from singing on the mic to taking the background and rocking his guitar is quite incredible. He leaves Castro bouncing up-front and strutting about from one edge of the stage to the other. One of the highlights of the night was when the band honoured the legendary Eric Donaldson with “Cherry Oh Baby.” Ali’s vocals on the magnificent “Fijian Sunset” love song remains etched in our minds. Hits like “Bring Me Your Cup,” “Red Red Wine” and “The Way You Do the Things You Do”remain some of the best sing-along from concertgoers we have seen in a long time.
Their stage exit is abrupt. There was no goodbye – only this statement from Astro:”Nairobi you have been beautiful. Thank you.” The crowd continues to thunder,”Red-Red-Wine!” They make a return on stage to a thunderous applause and take the party tempo a notch higher with their classic, “Kingston Town.”
“Until we meet again Nairobi, peace!” Astro waves as he exits the stage, followed by Ali, who had stayed on a few seconds playing his guitar. The remaining band, with the horn section now pulling forward, maintain the tempo with the crowd hailing them up!
DJ D-Lite is ready to take us to the after-party and we are super irie!