UB40 has been a frac­tured force in re­cent times but its reg­gae power is charg­ing up a new al­bum. In the lead-up to its re­lease next year, Gold Coast au­di­ences will hear a few of the old hits on Sun­day

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE & LOUD - KERSTIN KEHREN

It would hardly be sur­pris­ing to learn that tour­ing has changed greatly since the early days of UB40. But for Brian Travers, key­boardist/sax­o­phon­ist for the reg­gae group, it seems to be a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same.

“It seems to me like mu­sic’s come full cir­cle,” he says.

“When we started out, you could play any­where, any night of the week, in any joint.”

Then, as he points out, the record era came about.

“But it’s all come back to be­ing a mu­si­cian again, get­ting up and stand­ing on stage and play­ing your songs to peo­ple.”

Play­ing their songs is what UB40 – th­ese days Travers, Robin Camp­bell, Earl Fal­coner, Dun­can Camp­bell, Nor­man Has­san and Jimmy Brown – will do when they start their Aus­tralian tour to­day.

The band, which formed in Bri­tain, will launch the 10-date tour in Cairns tonight be­fore play­ing a sold-out show in Bris­bane on Satur­day and vis­it­ing the Gold Coast on Sun­day.

There is a wealth of ma­te­rial to choose from: Red Red Wine per­haps? King?

Travers says he doesn’t yet know just what fans will hear from the nine-piece out­fit (Martin Mered­ith, Lawrence Parry and Tony Mullings are also on the tour as part of UB40).

“We’ve had 40 top 30 hits (in Europe), but we can’t just go out and play hits all the time,” he says.

“We try and keep the set a lit­tle bit eclec­tic and chal­lenge the au­di­ence a lit­tle.

‘‘But we’ll play big hits and we’ll play some new stuff and hope­fully we’ll sur­prise peo­ple with a few things.”

There is, of course, a mat­ter that needs to be clar­i­fied in re­la­tion to UB40.

Sev­eral years af­ter his de­par­ture from the orig­i­nal band in 2008, singer Ali Camp­bell and two other former mem­bers, Micky Virtue and Astro, be­gan per­form­ing to­gether again. They also call them­selves UB40.

Travers and his band­mates haven’t ig­nored that.

Asked about this, Travers says: “We’re in court and some­where we’d rather not be.

‘‘We’d rather not be spend­ing our money on lawyers, but then this is our busi­ness and we em­ploy a lot of peo­ple. “It’s a bizarre sit­u­a­tion. ‘‘I’ve never heard any­thing like it be­fore in my life.”

Still, ac­cord­ing to Travers, UB40 are aware of how lucky they are.

“We feel re­ally priv­i­leged, just hav­ing this job, you know, be­ing in this po­si­tion,’’ he says.

‘‘We get to travel to lovely, won­der­ful coun­tries, travel round, stay in great ho­tels and meet peo­ple, new peo­ple, ev­ery day and play mu­sic.’’

Those at their gig at Mi­ami Mar­ketta on Sun­day will likely hear mu­sic from their lat­est al­bum Get­ting Over the Storm (2013).

Though Travers sees the project as “a reg­gae al­bum”, he also recog­nises its coun­try in­flu­ences.

“We took some clas­sic coun­try songs and re­worked them, and then I wrote five, six new coun­try songs and then I brought them to the band and they turned them into UB40 songs,” he says.

UB40 has been on the mu­sic scene for decades but its ap­proach to mu­sic is any­thing but old school.

The band is us­ing PledgeMu­sic, a web­site that is al­low­ing fans to pre-pur­chase the band’s forth­com­ing al­bum in the lead-up to its ex­pected 2016 re­lease – and take ad­van­tage of spe­cial of­fers.

“Peo­ple kind of com­mit to buy­ing the record be­fore they’ve heard it, which is the way it usu­ally goes any­way,” Travers says.

“When you go to a shop to buy a record, you gen­er­ally haven’t heard the whole record when you buy it, you know, if it’s just on re­lease. It’s work­ing re­ally great so far. Peo­ple are com­ing on board, they’re join­ing us for this jour­ney.”

Reg­gae group UB40 will start an Aus­tralian tour in Cairns tonight be­fore reach­ing the Gold Coast on Sun­day. The new al­bum is ex­pected to be out next year.

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