UB40 At 3Arena – Review & Photos
When UB40 last played in Dublin, no one expected them to return so soon (and frankly, no one is complaining). Tonight they kick off their ‘Labour of Love I & II Tour’ in Dublin in the 3Arena which can be quite a difficult arena to fill, but UB40 manage this, no problem. It makes you think how many people could not get tickets for their previous show here in the Olympia Theatre. Well, for those who missed out last time, they are certainly in for a treat. Before UB40 play, we meet some familiar faces: Radio Riddler.
Anyone who saw UB40 when they played the Olympia in October 2014 will remember this band (and how could anyone forget this band?!). Radio Riddler is a band who takes a modern twist on reggae and absolutely owns it. They’ve worked with UB40’s Ali Campbell and with Ireland’s own Sinéad O’Connor and even perform ‘I Would Die 4 U’, a song they did with the ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ singer. Their set tonight was somewhat similar to their last visit here, including two Prince covers (‘Take Me With You’ and, of course, ‘Purple Rain’). This time however, there is a lot more passion and meaning behind these covers after the recent passing of the musical icon. This passion rolls into the rest of their set, making it a massively enjoyable and memorable performance once again from the trio. It’s easy to assume smaller bands won’t get on as well in an arena as they would in a smaller venue but Radio Riddler did just that and more, and their return is greatly anticipated.
The Labour of Love I & II are two of UB40’s greatest albums, full of covers honouring those who inspired the band and push them to make the music they do, so it is no wonder they have decided to tour them and show Dublin exactly who they are from the bottom of their hearts. Tonight, like last time, is mesmerising and hypnotizing but on a much larger scale (and a much larger stage). Tonight’s two hour set is definitely not something to be missed, but where does one even begin? Their set tonight was mostly based on these two albums, playing crowd pleasers such as ‘Cherry Oh Baby’, ‘Kingston Town’, ‘Homely Girl’, ‘The Way You Do the Things You Do’ and, of course, their flawless cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’, while also playing songs from their previous album such as ‘Silhouette’. The latter song leads onto the next mesmerising and at times definitely hypnotizing aspect of their performance: their stage setting. Unlike the Olympia, the 3Arena allows artists to become a lot more creative with their stage setup, and UB40 take advantage of this very well, including a white background and little or no lighting to make the entire band look like silhouettes for ‘Silhouettes’. They take every opportunity they could to make this show as unique of an experience as possible. Musically, they cannot be flawed, with the brass section in particular getting the recognition they deserve. Tonight’s final song (and definitely the highlight of the night) comes in the form of ‘Red Red Wine’ which has everyone singing at the top of their voices and dancing like no one is watching. They finish their night on this, with the band left playing their outro ending what can only be described as a total mesmerising party of a night.
Review by Shauna Collins
Photos by Tudor Marian