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It was like 1989!

Publishing Date : 27 November, 2017


The much awaited UB40 concert was totally out of this world this past weekend. Thousands of people thronged the National Stadium to bear witness of the timeless and multi-hit producing group which was here for their second time after their maiden performance in 1989 at the same venue.

UB40 is such an underrated group. Their jams are unlike any other and their sound is simply sublime. There sound never really grows old, which is why “we found it fit to invite them back to Gaborone. Their music blends everything the band stood for, and it’s magical,” revealed Lesego Matenge, the organizer of the concert.

As evidenced by the performance at the National Stadium, I can attest that UB40 is still going strong today, and their music has empowered all of us to grab some red, red wine and take a look at the world around us! 

When the group finally took the stage on Saturday, one moment stole my heart. I was standing next to a lady, she looked like she was in her 60s. She had the time of her life from the very first song to the last one they did in their two hour set.

The lady was dressed in all white, the entire time she had her eyes closed and her hands firmly holding her chest as if she was holding her heart in place. The lady was a mixed bag of emotions. At one moment she smiled, the smile would later turn into a burst of laughter. You look away, only to find her crying this time around. The process was repeated in no particular order as the band prolifically dished classic hit after hit, much to the excitement of the charged up crowd! The old lady sang along and danced the night away, totally oblivious to her surroundings.

I found myself intrigued by this dear lady, I wanted to get inside her mind and see the beautiful picture she saw. I wanted to borrow her eyes and have a glimpse of the painting she saw, her heart so I could feel the warmth and the seemingly awesome episode of nostalgia she was going through. There was a place which this band took this Mama. A place only she can describe, she had paused for a minute about life as we know it and allowed music to transcend her memories and emotions, landing her in a realm only she can describe. She was in a beautiful space, she had found peace.

My heart was happy, I had the privilege of witnessing something really special, a rare occurrence. It was amazing how I had my own personal experience full of childhood memories of the group and their music, and somebody else in a different age group also had the time of their life, both experiences woven together by the fabric of music. What a beautiful thing music is.

“Red Red Wine” is the song many people think of when they think of UB40. It was a song that was ahead of its time and funky in its delivery. It’s soulful, but funk, punch is what makes “Red Red Wine” a classic in the new wave era, and it’s UB40’s best song. Period. I really enjoyed the performance.

Real music fans know that UB40 are an English reggae and pop band, formed in December 1978 in Birmingham, England. The band has had more than 50 singles in the UK Singles Chart, and has also achieved considerable international success. To have such a renowned group perform, for the second time, in our country is such an honour, we have Lesego Matenge to thank for this gesture. It was a beautiful outing. Security and logistics were on another level.

Just as a personal observation, nobody would have thought that a band named after a British unemployment form would go on to be one of music’s largest acts. UB40 went from being virtually unemployed to being one of music’s best-selling bands, and their blend of pop and reggae has been a hit with fans for over 36 years. Hopefully some of our local musicians take a leaf from this group, though it went on to split, it kept the recipe of the music intact, hence 2017 felt like 1989 to many!



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