UB40, The Rainbow Courtyard, Birmingham


They have had number one singles across the globe and sold millions of albums. But this week, UB40 - a band more used to playing to packed stadia, stepped out onto the stage of a much smaller venue, the 350-capacity Rainbow Courtyard.

The Raise the Roof gig at the closure-threatened Digbeth concert venue was a bid raise funds to soundproof its roof.

"In effect, we are raising money for the church roof," said UB40 Saxophonist, Brian Travers. "Because this, for many young people is like a church. This is where they come to worship some of their idols," he added.

"They like to build up the tension," said one seasoned UB40 fan and he was proven right as the band walked on stage one-at-a-time before opening with the song Travers said was written about the high rate of unemployment in Birmingham, One in Ten.

The audience was a mix of die-hards and their children. Fans, many of whom were seeing the band for the fourth or fifth time, said they had been looking forward to watching their heroes up close.

"I very first saw the band around 35 years ago when they were just starting out and tickets cost 50p," said 56-year-old Margaret Delaney. "It was fantastic to see them back playing in such a small, intimate venue in their home town considering they normally play in stadia all over the world," she added.

Her 25-year-old daughter, Lisa Delaney, on the other hand, was attending her first UB40 concert. "I grew up with this band on the radio and it is wonderful to get a chance to see them live," she said.

Louise McCarthy, a 52-year-old interior designer, said she had been impressed by the band "in the flesh," but added: "What really made the gig for me was the atmosphere."

Much of the pre-gig talk among punters was on whether new singer Duncan Campbell could fill the shoes of his older brother Ali on lead vocals. Band-members intimated after the show that they hoped he was not only able to "slot in and imitate Ali for the sake of the fans, but to add something to the role as well."

Most fans agreed after the band had left the stage that it was mission accomplished on that front. The pillar right in the centre of the stage which obscured Campbell from view throughout did not help his cause, but then, this was not the O2 Arena after all (I think that was the point).

All the same, artists including La Roux, The Prodigy and Joss Stone have graced the iconic Rainbow Courtyard stage in recent years. Reason-enough, Travers said, to try to save the venue from closure after neighbours' complaints about the late-night noise.

"This is not about celebrity or even promoting UB40, this is about the bands who want to entertain people being able to carry on doing what they always have done," he said.

Contrary to when the band plays arena shows, a lot less "smoke and mirrors" were involved in this week"s gig, where the musicians got much closer to their audience than they normally would. "We could see the whites of their eyes and hear what they were saying between songs," band-members joked.

"They could also see us in detail, I would imagine we were a little older and a little fatter than they might have thought. There was no makeup artist here, this was just us doing what we do - entertaining people," said Travers.

The Rainbow and the adjoining music venue, The Rainbow Courtyard, have been live music stalwarts in Birmingham for years. It started out as one of many pubs in an industrial area which had live music on.

However, as other more central venues closed down one by one, it became more and important to the local music scene.

Now, like many others across the country, it is under threat from a Noise Abatement order. The Digbeth area of Birmingham was mot traditionally a residential one, but a recent influx of people looking for an inner city flat resulted in noise complaints.

Recently, Newcastle Quayside's The Cooperage was closed down after residents in newly-built flats complained. The move saddened the band, who said that they had played there during the early days of their musical careers.

In the present though, and closing the show, Guitarist Robin Campbell urged the audience to sing along to the classic Red Red Wine, reminding them: "This is about raising the roof after all" (geddit)?

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own