UB40 make “surprise” appearance at Taste of Dubai

Singer Ali Campbell and keyboard player Mickey Virtue at the VIP Lounge at Taste of Dubai on March 13. Courtesy British Airways
Singer Ali Campbell and keyboard player Mickey Virtue at the VIP Lounge at Taste of Dubai on March 13. Courtesy British Airways

There were two celebrity surprises found hanging out backstage at Taste of Dubai.

The first wasn’t such a surprise after all. After lots of frantic emails and phone calls, every guest we met seemed to know well in advance that UB40 would be making an exclusive appearance at the British Airways VIP Lounge at 2pm.

And they did. Well, sort-of: technically there are two UB40’s in existence right now, and technically this was the “unofficial” one.

But still, we did get original frontman Ali Campbell, plus keyboardist Mickey Virtue and sax man Astro, performing to less than 100 people in a small, grassy garden area hidden round the back.

Oddly Astro seemed to forget his sax, so instead he was left to interject rap-style aside and exclamations, while Campbell sung largely over a backing track and Mickey’s off-the-beat key stabs.

Watching them up close and personal, sweating in the summer sun, it was hard to believe these were the same men who sold more than 70 million records way back when. A both bizarre and unique experience.

A collective, mumsy “aaah” went out when, at the close of a 40-minute set, they broke out Red Red Wine before being escorted away.

A better end than this outfit’s last Dubai appearance, at the Irish Village in April 2014, which was rained off midway.

Later, there was a far more genuine and spontaneous encounter when celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli was spotted chilling out in the lounge, chatting gamely with guests and posing for snaps.

• Taste of Dubai continues until Saturday March 14 at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre

rgarratt@thenational.ae

Published: March 14, 2015 04:00 AM

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