UB40, July 13

UB40 at the Rhythm City Casino Resort Event Center -- July 13.

Saturday, July 13, 8 p.m.

Rhythm City Casino Resort Event Center, 7077 Elmore Avenue, Davenport IA

With more than 100 million albums sold, and with their 50-plus charting singles in the United Kingdom including their trademark number-one hits “Red Red Wine” and “(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love with You," the reggae/pop legends of UB40 headline a July 13 concert at Davenport's Rhythm City Casino Resort Event Center, the artists enjoying their 45th-anniversary celebration this year, as well as their forthcoming 45th-anniversary album featuring new songs and reworked classics.

Formed in Birmingham, England, in December of 1978, UB40's musicians found their inspiration in the reggae music that the major swell of Jamaican immigrants brought to Birmingham in the late '60s and '70s. In their multi-cultural hometown, the band members were also surrounded by Indian film music, including Bhangra and pop/Bollywood scores. The music they created – featuring insightful sociopolitical lyrics, tight reggae rhythms, dubby instrumental passages, sax solos and Jamaican scat vibes – became a quick favorite of a young, mainly blue-collar and student crowd.

Aside from their ability to capture the zeitgeist of the era they launched in, one of the keys to breaking UB40 to mainstream success was their association with Chrissie Hynde, who saw them perform in a small venue and invited them on a six week tour with her fast-rising band the Pretenders just before the release of UB40’s double sided debut single “King/Food For Thought.” The exposure helped lift the track to number four on the UK singles chart, and by the time they finished the Pretenders tour, UB40 was selling out as headliners of the same venues.

Catapulted from bars to large theaters practically overnight, UB40 quickly became an unstoppable force, spending more time on the UK charts – and the “Top of the Pops” – in the '80s than any other UK band. Their later duets with Hynde were hugely successful; their 1985 cover of “I Got You Babe” hit number one and 1987's “Breakfast in Bed” reached number six. Their inimitable re-imaginings of classic pop, R&B and reggae songs – including the Jackson 5’s “Maybe Tomorrow,” Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross,” “Please Don’t Make Me Cry,” The Chi-Lites’ “Homely Girl,” “Kingston Town,” The Manhattans’ “Kiss and Say Goodbye” and of course, Neil Diamond’s “Red Red Wine” and the Elvis originated “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You” – launched them to global superstardom.

Yet as UB40 bandmate Robin Campbell points out, “We’ve only done a few albums of covers and close to 20 of original material. I can see how the popularity of the covers makes people think that’s all we do, but there’s so much more to our band.” Equally responsible for building their legend at home in the UK were their self-penned '80s hits “Food For Thought,” “1 In 10,” “If It Happens Again,” “Don’t Break My Heart,” “Sing Our Own Song,” and “Rat in Mi Kitchen,” as well as “Higher Ground” in the '90s.

“We continue to make albums for the simple reason that we love doing it and we’re forever inspired by the reactions of our multiple generations of fans,” says Campbell. “Playing ‘Red Red Wine’ and having thousands of people sing back to us every night is fantastic, but we never want to become a cabaret act or do a Vegas residency where we only play decades-old hits for nostalgia’s sake. There’s always an incredible buzz when we present new material and get the stamp of approval from the audience.”

UB40 plays their Event Center headlining engagement on July 13, admission to the 8 p.m. concert is $45-85, and more information and tickets are available by calling (563)328-8000 and visiting RhythmCityCasino.com.

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