Headline act UB40 proved a very big draw on the Saturday night, putting on a 90-minute show which surpassed their previous Daytripper outing on the Bolton Street stage back in 2015.
Lead singer Ali Campbell and the Birmingham-based band worked the crowd really well, rocking the audience with an array of their hits, including ‘Falling In Love’, ‘Cherry Oh Baby’, ‘Kingstown Town’ (demonstrating their reggae and multi cultural roots) and ‘Ivory Madonna’ before rounding off their superb set with ‘Red Red Wine’.
The crowd was rocking throughout the set, and UB40 brilliantly stoked up the crowd on a great, feel good night on The Waterside, with young and old dancing in the car park.
With a brilliant brass section accompanying their instrumental numbers, UB40, who play the 3 Arena in November, kicked off the night with ‘One in Ten’, an early 80s hit which focused on the recession and unemployment crisis in Britain at the time, a song which has lost none of its power and has in fact retained its relevance in this Brexit environment.
The two tone reggae sound which brought UB40 to international prominence sounds as fresh today as it did three decades ago, and it was great to see Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue gigging in Waterford, some 32 years on from their first gig here at the Bridge Hotel. And if you didn’t make it on the night, you really missed out on a greatest hits extravaganza drenched in nostalgia, which also included ‘Many Rivers To Cross’.
Prior to that, the best sound to emerge from Ringsend, The Blades, another great 80s act, also played a great set, adding to the feeling that this was very much a renaissance night for bands many in the crowd loved back in their youth.
Front man Paul Cleary got better as the set deepened, as the band glided through some of their best known numbers, including ‘Those Were The Days’, ‘The Great Wall of America’ and the near tropical ‘Last Man in Europe’. They’ll play Dublin’s Academy in December and we’d love to see them perform an indoor gig in Waterford in due course. It’s great to see these rockers re-connecting with old fans and a new, younger audience and we look forward to seeing them again.
Prior to The Blades, the dozen-strong Waterford band Propeller Palms played a very entertaining set, and their original tracks went down well with their home audience. They also played a new song in advance of the All-Ireland Hurling Final which the crowd loved, and it’s great to see the band doing well in prominent venues such as Whelans.
On the first night of the festival, the ‘Smash Hits’ crew proved popular with the younger crowd (17 to 25), as did 2FM’s Jenny Greene and Clean Bandit before an audience estimated at just over 2,500-strong.
The new location went down well and represents an improvement on the Bolton Street venue, according to satisfied festival organiser Mick O’Keeffe.
Facilities available on site went down well with gig goers, security was good and John Street proved a welcome nearby addition to the weekend, with the revamped Apple Market entertainment district buzzing on both nights.