UB40 featuring Ali Campbell: Sheffield City Hall hosts a wonderful tribute to Astro - review

Nothing takes you back to a time or a place in your life like music. When you hear a certain song you have to stop, take stock – even forgetting where you are and the moment you’re in – because you're transported to another time and place, but more importantly to another emotion: sometimes good, sometimes bad.

By errol edwards
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 9:19 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 10:17 am

Rob Wellington, a great DJ, plays music from all genres from all eras.

He plays reggae from the 2000s, and people love it; he plays R&B from the 2000s, and everyone loves it.

When he plays a track from Bob Marley, going back to the 1970s, everyone responds to it, singing at the top of their voices – and I believe its because Marley’s music really transcends generations, ages and races. Everyone knows Bob Marley.

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Ali Campbell at Sheffield City Hall

Not many bands or artists can live up to this accolade.

UB40 formed in Birmingham in 1978 taking their name from the Government Unemployment Benefit, form 40 – surely the most-known trivia about the band?

The multi-award-winning band’s national tour pays tribute to Astro, a founding member of the band.

Astro – real name Terence Wilson – who died after a short illness in November.

UB40 Fans

He was named so for his love of wearing a brand of Doc Martin boots called Astronaut. This was shortened to Astro and the name stuck.

Ali and Astro reassembled the touring band remotely to record a lockdown single – a poignant cover of the late Bill Withers’ Lean On Me, in aid of NHS Charities Together.

On Sunday, Sheffield City Hall was consumed with anticipation and high spirits before this long overdue concert. I definitely felt the love and excitement in the air.

People had been waiting a long time for this event and they came from near and far. I spoke to fans who had travelled from Hull and Bradford and other destinations further afield. The anticipation was high.

UB40 at Sheffield City Hall

After a great warm up by sound system Reggae Roast, UB40 made their appearance.

For a split second I didn't notice Ali Campbell finally appeared on stage, it was a surreal moment for me.

He was definitely there and everyone knew it.

The band has so many iconic tracks it was a case of letting them wash over you and take you to a different time and place, where the sun shone and you were among loved ones, while you waited for your favourite track. But while waiting for your favourite track, your ‘other’ favourite track would be playing – they did not disappoint.

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell

It was a great night to remember when you first started listening to UB40 and where and what you were involved in.

For me I was living in Gibraltar and music was a massive part of my life, and while my wife and I listened to UB40 the sun always shone.

During the concert UB40 paid tribute to Robbie Shakespear who passed away in December.

Although he never played with the band, he was clearly well respected by UB40, and in the music world, playing with many great artists including Sheffield’s Joe Cocker.

Midway through the night the band gave an insight into their new album: Unprecedented, featuring Ali Campbell and Astro to be released in June.

Toward the end of the night the large stage backdrop was illuminated by a video of Astro and UB40 performing Wear you to the Ball, then A Rat in the Kitchen, followed by several candid photos of Astro – ordinary people doing extraordinary things sprung to mind.

Ali Campbell at Sheffield City Hall

I bet there were a few tears shed during that section of the night.

A wonderful tribute and reminder of a man, who was such a huge integral part of the band and clearly shaped who they are today.