WORDS ANNA RAWHITI-CONNELL / PHOTOS SHAUN ROSS + SUPPLIED
At 2018’s One Love Festival, musician George ‘Fiji’ Veikoso led the crowd in a spontaneous singalong to the waiata E Papa Waiari. It was just one of many goosebump-inducing moments that sum up the spirit of this event, which is now in its fifth year.
There’s no risk of being crushed in a mosh pit at One Love. Hands reach out, bodies sway in unison and attendees spend two days wrapped in the warm embrace of a relaxed and wholeheartedly good vibe.
The festival attracts a high calibre of international stars and local favourites. Some of the names on the bill this year are Bob Marley’s son Ky-Mani Marley, Maxi Priest, Rebel SoulJahz, Stan Walker, The Black Seeds and Katchafire. Headlining is iconic Birmingham reggae troupe UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue. Fans may be aware that there are two versions of the reggae band that tours as UB40, but happily we’ll be treated to the line-up starring three of the group’s original members – and Ali’s inimitable vocals.
The band have been frequent visitors to New Zealand. “It’s the fans – they’re the reason we keep coming back,” says Astro (pictured above, centre). “Plus the country’s natural beauty and culture. Besides, you can’t do a world tour and exclude New Zealand. That’d be madness!”
He says he keeps a close eye on our local music scene. “I’ve been following Salmonella Dub for quite a few years. Also Katchafire, Fly My Pretties and The Black Seeds.”
Their performance at One Love is part of their Labour Of Love tour, named after their latest album. It’s also the group’s 40th anniversary tour (yep, that means we get to party with them as they celebrate their UB40th). It includes an eight-piece band and all their best work, including Higher Ground and Come Back Darling.
“Fans can expect as many hits as we can cram into our set,” says Astro. “We’ll be playing a few tracks from A Real Labour of Love, but we’re not self-indulgent – we know that the fans want to hear the hits, and ultimately what the fans want, the fans get.”
UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue produce a true and authentic sound that’s full of heart – just like the One Love Festival. Whether you’re swaying to Red Red Wine urging it to “stay close to me-eee-eee”, or skanking to Rat in Mi Kitchen like a true Brummie, this gig will offer you the triple rainbow of sharing a very special milestone with a very special band at a very special festival.