Upbeat Manchester band Kid British are the support tonight, they comprise drums, keyboards, bass, lead guitar and three vocalists and play a lively mish-mash of hip hop, ska, and Brit pop with an obvious nod to bands like The Specials and Madness. They’ve been around for a couple of years and I’ve regularly seen their name on tour slots in that time, so it was good to finally catch their show. It’s good time, infectious dance music and they project the sort of blokey charm that you’d expect from seven guys in a band. They keep the crowd entertained for the whole of their set which is good for a support act, but it’s upbeat skanking music so that’s always going to be a winner with me.
The only song I didn’t like of theirs was one called “Social network” in which they say we’re all spending our time on social network sites and not physically interacting with each other. Speak for yourselves fellas. I’ve got back in touch with people I haven’t seen in over twenty years thanks to Facebook, and subsequently met up with them (and gone to gigs with them) so I’m not sure what you’re talking about with that song. Aside from that – top support act. I think they’ve already been dropped by their label in these X Factor, quick-return-on-an-investment record industry times, but they’re a talented bunch so hopefully will keep going.
UB40 are celebrating thirty years of their debut album “Signing Off”, and the multi-platinum selling reggae band have amassed a legion of fans in that time. I don’t even think the UB40 form for claiming unemployment benefit still exists, so that’s a measure of how long they’ve been around. I’ve never been a massive fan of the band, I just always thought they were ok, but I wanted to hear them do this album again so that’s why I’m here. Lead singer Ali Campbell left after an acrimonious fall out over money and management and has been replaced on vocals by his brother Duncan. His voice is slightly deeper than his brother’s which is no bad thing as I always found Ali Campbell’s nasally vocals a wee bit irritating.
Apart from a change of vocalist, the gig is as I expected, they still clearly enjoy doing what the do and they can’t put a foot wrong in front of their fans. The old songs from the album still sound good, and songs like “Burden of shame” written about apartheid in South African and that ludicrous “lady’s not for turning” sample from an arrogant Maggie Thatcher speech encapsulate the time period in which these songs were recorded. Definitely good to hear the whole of this album played live again.
After a ten minute break and a change of outfits, the band come back on and do some more songs from their long career. They always had a healthy amount of cover versions as a nod to the roots of their influences and we get a fair few of these, of course including their cover of the Neil Diamond (then Tony Tribe) song “Red, red wine” which got to number one in the UK and US. The up for it crowd sing along to every song played and after nearly two hours the set closes. With their huge fan base they’ll be around doing what they do for a good while yet, but for me it was good but not great.
So that’s October done for me. Managed to get to ten gigs this month. Roll on November…