Each year the Forestry commission put on a special selection of gigs at seven forest locations across England and this year they have the likes of Jake Bugg, Tom Jones, James Bay, UB40, Kaiser Chiefs, Rudimental, John Newman, Guy Garvey, Paul Heaton And Jacqui Abbot and Simply Red playing shows across the UK and like every year the shows are a major success with many selling out well in advance with the attendees making a proper day out of the occasion thanks to the relaxed rules which allows people to bring in camping chairs and their own selection of food and drink as long as it’s not in a glass bottle and not an excessive amount.
We headed down to the Arboretum in Westonbirt tonight for day three of their forest concerts to catch UB40 and it was quite a special occasion as tonight marked the tenth anniversary of when UB40 last graced the stage of Westonbirt Arboretum making the show a special reunion in more ways than one.
We got to the Arboretum just before 7pm and the fun was already flowing with many people at the front of the field waiting for the music to start and hundreds of others spread across the field in massive groups of friends and family having a picnic and a chat whilst watching the sun go down on this beautiful summery Saturday night and before you knew it the support act Radio Riddler took to the stage.
Radio Riddler are friends of Ali Campbell and the UB40 guys and were handpicked by them to support them at Westonbirt tonight and they were the perfect act to warm the crowd up tonight are they are Reggae act who spent their 40minute set honouring Prince and covering songs from his legendary’ Purple Rain’ album.
Through their set Radio Riddler played the likes of ‘When Doves cry, ‘I Would Die 4 U’, ‘Baby I’m A Star’, ‘Take Me With You’ and the song everyone was waiting for ‘Purple Rain’ and it was ever so pleasing on the ears with Radio Riddler recreating Prince classics in a reggae way. The only downside to Radio Riddler’s set was the fact that there was no bass player or drummer with the three piece being made up of a keyboard player, dual guitarist and lead vocalist.
After Radio Riddler’s set came to an end there was 40 minute wait for UB40 which gave everyone chance to grab a drink, get some food, go to the toilet, check out the merchandise and get ready for the legendary UB40.
UB40 took to the stage just before 9pm with Ali Campbell taking to the stage a few minutes after the rest of the band and being met by huge cheers from the crowd as he wasted no time in laying down his deep, powerful vocals which sound as good or if not better than when the band were at the top of their game in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
The band spent a lot of time interacting with their fans between songs with Astro doing the majority of talking and that went down well with both the fans and the band with Campbell saving his voice for the big unique vocals that everyone was here to experience tonight through this massive greatest hits set.
The crowd were in their element through the bands 1hour and 30minute set with people at the front dancing like there life depended on it, people in the middle being a bit more relaxed standing up from their foldable chairs singing along and the people right at the back of the venue having a perfect view of the whole field whilst also in perfect location for a good getaway at the end of the set when the mad stampede happens when the set comes to a close.
When it came to picking a set list UB40 really brought out the hits tonight as they played a massive greatest hits set which consisted of many chart hits such as ‘Kingston Town’, ‘Cherry O Baby’, ‘Groovin’, ‘Just Another Love’ and the massive sing-a-long ‘Red Red Wine’ to name but a few.
By the time the UB40 show came to an end the night had turned chilli and the sky had turned dark yet the majority of people were still warm from dancing the night away to UB40 dressed in their brand new groovy UB40 tie dye t-shirt.
Overall tonight was perfect night out with everything from the location, music and atmosphere being spot on and it is not every day you get to see a legendary band who have been in the music industry for over 30 years, sold over 70 million records and had over 50 singles in the UK chart a couple of miles from your home, and now I can’t wait to see what the Forestry Commission have instore for 2017.
Radio Riddler 4/5
Review By Trigger