Concert Review: UB40 with Ali Campbell and Astro with Shaggy Bring Irie Vibes to Boca Raton

Both Shaggy and headliner UB40 with Ali Campbell and Astro performed Sunday night to an uplifted and inspired group of concertgoers at Mizner Park Amphitheater on a beautiful full-moon night in Boca Raton.

It has been a very unpredictable past few months in Florida with regard to the constant threat of hurricanes to the area, and the locals are tired, stressed, and ready for a change. Shaggy brought the people of South Florida exactly what they needed–some celebration of peace. While the threat of rain existed, fortunately it didn’t, but with mid-90s high temperatures and above normal humidity, it brought those who attended plenty of sweat-soaked hours of nostalgic reggae music by two of the biggest names in reggae.

UB40 – Photo: Rick Munroe MFN

Although not the headliner, Shaggy served up a great blend of his most recognized songs combined with a few covers that kick-started a dance party that the thousands in attendance participated in where they sang out loud, danced and waved to the reggae star for nearly the entire set. Attending a Shaggy concert is much like going to carnival, Jamaican style, with the heavy “bump-bump” bass and high-energy fun-filled concert atmosphere where the party doesn’t stop until Shaggy drops the microphone.

Shaggy – Photo: Rick Munroe MFN

The powerful Jamaican-accented voice of Shaggy combined with his backup singers brought out the soul of the “Bad Boy” from Kingston. Shaggy didn’t disappoint; he finds a way into your heart; whether it’s his dancing, gyrations, or charm, he gets to you one way or another. For those who came to hear the Jamaican native’s most noteworthy songs, he delivered, including “Bombastic,” “Angel,” “I Need Your Love,” “Turn Down For What,” and “In The Summertime” He calls out for Jamaicans, and the crowd erupts; he calls out for Caribbeans, and the shouts get even louder. Shaggy delivered an engaging and entertaining show. It was time to wrap up, but he couldn’t leave his audience without the song that defines his “bad boy” image, so Shaggy closed with his biggest and fan-favorite hit “It Wasn’t Me.”

After such an enchanting set, UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro were up for a challenge to deliver a performance of equal or better than Shaggy’s. Certainly, the two have different styles, but the best way to describe UB40’s performance was “chill.” UB40 came complete with an eight-piece band that included a brilliant horn section. Those who came to hear the band’s most recognized songs got what they wanted. The party began with the Al Green cover “Here I Am (Come And Take Me),” which had the audience immediately on their feet.

This version of UB40 includes Ali Campbell and Astro who were key members of the original band that split up some time ago. Having played as a unit for over 30 years, they have helped to define reggae music for several generations. Although being on tour can be exhausting, this show wasn’t about anything loud and crazy or screaming; this was after all a “chill” show. Ali Campbell brought a measured energy on stage as he bounced about in his well-known “J-walk” style of strutting about the stage. This was not a high-energy show; it wasn’t supposed to be, more of a smoke-a-little-ganja-and-sit-back-and-chill type of show. People moved about slowly as they danced in front of their seats, listening to their favorites. The music was satisfying. Both Ali Campbell and Astro still have it. Through the entire show, however, it seemed everyone was waiting for Ali to cut loose and go for it.

UB40 reached mainstream success by re-working very well-know covers from artists like Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Al Green and The Temptations. One of the highlights of the night was when the band played “Fijian Sunset,” a magnificant love song that was recorded with both Astro and Mickey.  Ali’s vocals on this song were superb and got everyone going, even just for a little bit. The band played a solid set, sounding great, and had one song left to deliver to their most loyal reggae fans, “Red Red Wine.” As the song ended, Astro waved as he walked off the stage, followed by Ali, who had stayed on a few seconds playing his guitar through the rhythm section. As Ali walked off, the remaining band played out the song, maintaining the tempo and vibe that had been a part of the night.

Astro Photo: Rick Munroe MFN

Whether you just love getting your dance on to reggae music or you genuinely want to celebrate these accomplished music acts, this concert provided those who attended a chance to connect with friends, make new ones, and forget about all the things that divide us as a society. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from. The only question was, did you know the words to “Red Red Wine”?

UB40 Setlist

If It Happens Again, Wear You to the Ball (John Holt cover), One in Ten, Groovin’ (Byron Lee & The Dragonaires cover), Cherry Oh Baby (Eric Donaldson cover), Homely Girl (The Chi‐Lites cover), The Way You Do the Things You Do (The Temptations cover), Bring Me Your Cup, Strive (Shinehead cover), Impossible Love (Honey Boy cover) Fijian Sunset (Ali Campbell song), Here I Am (Come and Take Me) (Al Green cover), Rat in Mi Kitchen, I’ll Be There , Many Rivers to Cross (Jimmy Cliff cover), Encore: Kingston Town (Lord Creator cover), Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley cover), Red Red Wine (Neil Diamond cover)

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