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Ali Campbell Discusses Grandslam Tour

16 December 2016

British Reggae Legends UB40 To Play At Bloomfield Road

UB40 featuring original members Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue will play Bloomfield Road, the home of Blackpool FC, as part of their Grandslam UK tour next year. 

Having split from the original band in 2008, Campbell has teamed up with the two co-founders, as well as an ensemble of eight musicians, to form the new group.

Celebrating sold-out shows around the world since, they are now gearing up for a number of predominantly open air shows across the UK.

The Blackpool date takes place on 16 June, 2017, with support from Level 42, The Original Wailers and Raging Fyah. 

Ali, how does it feel to be gearing up for the tour?

Well, I’ve never been off the road actually. I’m enjoying doing touring more. I left UB40, the band I started, in 2008 and started my own band with Mickey [Virtue] – the keyboard player – and three years ago Astro joined us. That’s when we called ourselves UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey. Since we’ve done that the fans have voted with their feet and we’ve sold out everywhere we’ve played.

Then we went off to North America and did two sold-out tours in 10 months, and we’ve got more coming up this year. I’m just loving it. For eight years after I left the original UB40 I played a lot of gigs but didn’t do any tours. We went all over the place; I did a stint as a judge on New Zealand’s Got Talent. Even while I was doing that I was flying to South America and doing shows at the weekend.

I’m really happy to be doing proper tours again, banging around on a tour bus for five or six weeks at a time. It’s what I’ve spent my adult life doing.

And the new tour takes you to big, open spaces…

We’ve just done all the arenas with the last tour, and it was fabulous. To do it again a year later would have been kind of boring. This one is off the beaten track. It’s basically cricket grounds and racecourses, which is fine by me because it means we get away from the normal arenas in major cities.

How has the new band changed the way you work?

There’s a lot more energy. I’ve kind of reinvented UB40 inadvertently by leaving. What you have is a slicker, and a better band. The old band was self-taught and weren’t really solo musicians, whereas all of the musicians in this band are session players.

We’ve been together now for eight years, so we’re a proper band, but they all just don’t have to rehearse. We can run it once with these guys and they are ready to go. It’s a joy to be with this band. When Astro joined us he said it was so much easier.

You’re taking Level 42 and The Original Wailers out on tour. How did the support line-up come about?

The Wailers have played with us all over America, well, a different version of The Wailers. This is The original Wailers with Al Anderson, and they are also brilliant. We’re very happy to have them. And Raging Fyah, who are an up-and-coming roots-rock reggae band with great conscious lyrics. We love them; they are our band of the moment. We’re really happy to have them on the bill.

Level 42 are old friends of ours. Mark King is a good old mate, you know. We’ve known them since the 80s; our paths have crossed many times. Mark’s dad thought he was in UB40 at one time.

Basically that’s a day of hits. The Wailers have got something like 15 hits, Level 42 have got a dozen, and our whole set is hits. It’s a perfect festival – songs that everybody knows.

UB40 Grandslam tour dates:

19 May – Northern Meeting Park, Invernell
20 May – Slessor Gardens, Dundee
26 May – Racecourse Ground, Wrexham
27 May – Butts Park, Coventry
28 May – Northern Echo Arena, Darlington
2 June – Brunton Park, Carlisle
3 June – The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury
10 June – Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli
11 June – Taunton Racecourse, Somerset
16 June – Bloomfield Road, Blackpool
17 June – Riverside Park, Newark
30 June – Open Air Theatre, Scarborough
12 August – City Racecourse, Chelmsford, GB

Tickets for the Grandslam Tour are available to purchase from Ticketmaster now. 

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