There really is nothing better than a picnic, in a beautiful park, on a perfect Summer’s day in Jo’burg.
Well, except a picnic in a beautiful park on a Summer’s day in Joburg, with the added value of really great music playing for you and a couple thousand other people.
That was the scene at Emmarentia Dam for the UB40 feat. Ali Campbell show, and what a wonderful scene it was! The crowd was an eclectic mix of fans – there were the die-hard 45-years-and-over fans, the “my parent’s always listened to UB40” 20-35 year olds (myself included), and there were the young kids; most of whom have no idea really, who UB40 are, but hopefully when they’re older will realise that their parents were awesome enough to take them to see musical legends live in S.A!
Warming up the stage that afternoon was Michael Lowman, Freshlyground and Mango Groove.
I missed Michael Lowman’s performance, but I have heard great reviews about it! Very reliable sources have assured me that he commanded the big stage and large crowd with amazing confidence, which is something I love hearing about solo performers! I will have to make up for missing this set in a very big way.
Freshlyground, a firm favourite were up next and they got the crowd up and dancing with the one and only – “Wakka Wakka”. (I doubt South Africans will ever get bored of that song and all the 2010 memories it is attached to!)
Zolani’s voice is as captivating as ever and I really love the new direction the band has taken. Their sound is just as unique as always, but there’s definitely a new twist in it all… And it’s a good twist!
Then we had Mango Groove. Man, they are just so awesome! Seriously, even if you aren’t a fan of their music (although if there’s anyone like that out there, SHUN!) you really can’t help but tap your feet and hum along. There is so much South African-ness in their music and it’s infectious from the minute they step onto stage, until the end of the last song. I can’t help but love Mango Groove, and Claire Johnston has definitely still got her groove!
And then it was finally time for the legends themselves – UB40! These guys may have been around the musical block for a few years now, but damn, they have still got it. Ali Campbell even gave a shot at some winding and grinding in their sexier songs. Turns out that’s actually a bit strange to watch from a guy that age, no matter how much you digging the song! But besides those few awkward moments, the band was amazing to watch. Their interaction with the crowd was a little less than I would have imagined, but they still kept everyone captivated. Oh, and they really know how to save the best for last! Kingston Town and Red Red Wine, were kept until the very end of the encore… Talk about suspense!
The best part about seeing such a large audience for a band like UB40, is that you are reminded of the power within good music. I mean really good music. The kind of music, like theirs, that is timeless.
In the reggae spirit – Peace and love to everyone 🙂
– Gerry Kent
[All photographs by Gerry Kent and Rob Bruyns]