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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

One night with UB40: Reggae in the air

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The Ali Campbell-led version of UB40 came good with a night of nostalgia.

The reggae legacy of 35 years and counting of British band UB40 certainly stretches far and wide, and well across the generations.

That was the picture at KL Live in Kuala Lumpur last Wednesday when a Malaysian crowd (plus a significant expatriate showing) were treated to the return, of sorts, of this iconic Birmingham-raised band.

There were those who very likely remembered or were at the full group's first Malaysian concert at Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur nearly 20 years ago (May 7, 1994). Arguably there were those in the KL Live audience who were barely out of their diapers back then.

In recent years, the line-up changes in UB40 have been drastic. It must be noted that there are two versions of UB40 on tour these days.

Band feuds can be messy affairs. There is an ongoing version of UB40 led by Robin Campbell and band regulars on the touring circuit, while a new version of UB40 emerged recently with Robin's brother Ali Campbell leading the line-up with some old boys.

So I hope I can be forgiven if there was a tinge sadness in me, when I stepped into the KL Live concert hall realising that this Ali Campbell-led splinter group was far from the original posse. However, when the voice of original vocalist Ali, 55, came into play on the first tune, most of my fears were wiped away.

So it didn't matter too much in the end that this was Ali's group, informally known as UB40 Reunited, and formed in January along with co-original vocalist/trumpeteer Astro Wilson, 56, who left the original group just last November, and original keyboardist Mickey Virtue, 57 (who left along with Ali in 2008).

This version of UB40 brought along a new group of musicians, expanding the line-up to an 11-piece, complete with brass section!

Both Ali and Astro's presence made it a special night in Kuala Lumpur concert. For over 90 minutes, there was a singalong collection lifted from the group's back catalogue.

UB40 can boast over 40 British Top 40 hits spanning 16 studio albums.

At KL Live, you had the group's hardcore fans (the ones with the Signing Off and Present Arms albums) right to those who swear by the more commercial Labour Of Love and Rat In The Kitchen records. Everybody came to experience the best of UB40.

The show kicked off with an instrumental from the band (with Virtue on keyboards) before the vocalists came on stage. The audience clearly lapped it up when the hits arrived.

Right from So Here I Am and Homely Girl to Stick By Me and One In Ten, this was a skanking night of Midlands reggae-inspired nostalgia. Real working class dreamers here. Then it was time to stomp the work boots as the group unleashed Cherry Oh Baby, Rat In Mi Kitchen, before simmering it down with a little pop number called Can't Help Falling In Love.

If ever there were encores to leave the fans with broad smiles, then you had to rate UB40's hits Kingston Town and Red Red Wine as top-drawer send-offs.

Despite some glaring ommissions (King, Food For Thought and The Earth Dies Screaming), there was still a lot of entertainment value to take home. A handy reggae cover of Prince's Purple Rain, and a new track called Sillhouette certainly got the crowd interested in the group's future material.

From front to back of this KL outing, it was still Ali Campbell's vocals that stole the hearts. Let's hope, as this "splinter" group heads back to Britain for more live appearances this summer, that there will be some family patching up (with the other UB40). All said, we walked away from KL Live sated for the time being.

Partying all night long with Lionel Richie

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

It was one mega sing-along party at Lionel Richie's All The Hits All Night Long concert on Sunday night.

As promised, it was one mega sing-along party at Lionel Richie's All The Hits All Night Long concert at the Arena of Stars in Genting, Pahang on Sunday night.

Backed by his five-piece band, the Grammy award-winning singer-composer showed us once again why he continues to pack out arenas worldwide.

"Hello, is it me you're looking for?" he asked as the lights came on and the audience screamed in delight at the concert venue. Despite having concerts in Kuala Lumpur in 2006 and 2010, Richie is still the man to thrill the masses – young and old.

With his wit, humour and passion, the singer was on form as he churned out hit after hit, pacing the night with ballads and dance numbers. Richie began the show with Just For You, a tune from his 2004 album of the same name.

Of course, he didn't wait too long to hit the 1970s and 1980s classics. Out came the crowd favourites Penny Lover (1983), Easy (1977, Commodores), Ballerina Girl (1985), You Are (1982) and Truly (1982).

Once Richie warmed up, he picked up momentum and got the 5,000 fans on their feet with Running With The Night. That was a blast from the past from his classic Can't Slow Down (1983) album. Remember Richie in that wedding party dance scene in the Running With The Night music video? He was in that sort of party mood last Sunday in Genting.

He didn't miss a beat and at 64, sounded better than he ever.

Richie, looking dapper in black, was a true entertainer. He told plenty of little stories, and how people would always turn to his songs when there was a disaster or devastation, heartbreak or were in love.

Those were stories he shared before carrying on with the romantic push of ballads like Still, Oh No and Stuck On You.

No Richie concert is complete without him singing some early hits from the Commodores. There were fans in the crowd who wanted the funk/soul side of this artiste.

Much to the delight of the older fans, he brought out the funk with Brick House, before rolling back the years with the 1970s Motown-era treats like Three Times A Lady (which he wrote for his mother after his father made a toast to a wonderful woman), Sail On, Fancy Dancer and Sweet Love.

He then tried to trick the audience into believing that Diana Ross would appear to do a duet. Some unsuspecting fans actually expected her to walk in as Richie pointed to the stage wings.

"I asked her but she said ... no!" he said, trying to keep a straight face. "I told her this was going to be the best concert in Malaysia and she still said no. But we don't need Diana Ross. There are 5,000 of you here who can be Diana Ross!"

With that, he launched into the ballad Endless Love, which was originally released in 1981. It was used in the movie Endless Love that same year. A time when actress Brooke Shields was the hottest thing on the planet.

With the help of the Arena of Stars audience and lyrics flashing in the background, Richie made it a karaoke fest to remember.

Just when you thought he couldn't raise the temperature further, he did. Dancing On The Ceiling had everyone grooving, and throwing "shapes" in the aisles.

Richie performed 21 songs without a break before wrapping up with Hello, All Night Long and the encore, We Are The World, which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson.

"I didn't invent this saying but, I'll be back," he promised as the audience cheered wildly.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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