Interview with Ali Campbell – UB40 Frontman


What should we expect to see when you perform in Nottingham in April?

We are in the middle of a world tour actually at the moment and what we have done is due to popular demand as we sold out our British dates we put some more in, in April, that’s where Nottingham comes in. We do a set of hits basically, in the 80’s and 90’s we had something like 40 top 20 hits so we got plenty to choose from. Anybody that comes along will know the songs that we are singing basically we will do 3 or 4 from the new album Silhouette, but generally it’s a set that we have been honing down through this tour and its basically greatest hits.

How long has it been since you’ve played in Nottingham?

I don’t think I’ve been there for 3 or 4 years as I’ve been touring constantly since last December; we started the world tour when Astro came back to us. So yeah about 3 years ago.

Are you looking forward to coming back here? Artists normally say they love the crowd in Nottingham.

Yeah I love the crowds everywhere we go to be honest we haven’t had a bad show; especially with Astro back the shows have got a different dynamic now. It’s almost as if the audience is giving a sigh of relief; it’s a bit like a conclusion to all the nonsense that has been going on, you can feel it that the crowds are really happy that me and Astro are back together.

How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

Erm…well one of the things that I found really difficult were lyrics, we have done so many songs and have written so many songs, 24 albums worth, only 3 out of those were called Labour of Love and those were albums of covers so there’s 21 albums of self-penned stuff that we did and my problem is always remembering lyrics. It’s horrible when you are coming to do a line and you forget it, you go all hot inside and think oh god what am I going to do now! What I used to do was just verbal nonsense you know? But what I do now is, I do have an autocue and its made my life so much easier having an autocue, not that I stand there and read the lyrics but to have the lyrics there if I need them is like a security blanket and it really does make my job 50% easier having an autocue at hand so there aren’t really that many mistakes now.

If you could dabble in another genre of music what would it be?

Well I lived and I’ve grown around reggae music and I was there at the beginning when reggae music started in 1968 I was a baby and reggae was only 13 years old when I started UB40. So that is a really young music form, I think if I was to dabble in any other type of music it would probably be ill informed jazz. I do love Miles Davis, you know the old stuff, I never really got my head around John Coltrane but I like Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. So I am into that era of jazz especially Miles Davies, I love his stuff, not that I would be able to play it! I would probably bullshit my way through somehow.

Ali Do you have any hidden talents?

Well I’m a very good cook, my bolognaise I think it was in the Sunday Times my bolognaise I like to use a lot of wine and a lot of garlic. As long as there is basil and tomatoes I think we are ok.

Are there any songs that you have done that you wished you hadn’t?

Haha erm… I think do you know the little program called You and Me? It was in the 80’s and 90’s it was a children’s program, I did the song for that “ You and Me, Me and You, Lots of things to do” I wish I hadn’t done that. Haha. Originally the song was done by Patti Labelle a Nigerian lady then they came to us with these big puppets and said isn’t this lovely would you like to do the theme music and stupidly I said yeah why not and then they used it for about 25years, so it was highly embarrassing.

Whats the most embarrassing song on your Ipod right now?

Erm…. I don’t think it’s embarrassing but it might be embarrassing that I’m listening to it at my age but my favourite tune at the moment is Megan Trainor’s All about that Bass, it so catchy and I love the sentiment, Mama says don’t worry about your size, young men love something big to hold on to, I think its wicked, haha, so yeah good old Megan Trainor she should keep it up.

Absolutely well thank you and good luck with the rest of the tour and we will see you in Nottingham in April.

Well you come along to party with us as that’s what we are going to do.


Grab the last few seats at now for April 9th date on the UB40 tour in Nottingham

Interview by Anna Underwood

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