UB40, featuring founding members of the band Ali Campbell and Astro, are Dorset-bound. Ali Campbell tells the Guide how excited he is to play a home gig.

HE’S the legendary voice of eighties reggae band UB40 – one of the most widely travelled bands in Britain. Ali Campbell is the first to admit they have purposely chosen some of the world’s most exotic locations to play over the years.

But he won’t have to travel far for his next big gig in Bournemouth on Monday, March 25, as he only lives up the road in Highcliffe.

“In January we fly to Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, the Cook Islands and end up in Hawaii for February, then we start the March arena tour in England and that’s when we head to sunny Bournemouth, my local town!”.

Ali has been living in Highcliffe with his wife and four children for 12 years. “I love it here, “ he says. “Around 90 per cent of the population are over 70 which means you can walk around and everything is cool. Some people say hello, but you don’t get any hassle – it’s very different if you try to go shopping at Tesco in Birmingham [where Ali grew up] believe me!”

He adds: “All four of my kids went to Brockenhurst College, I’ve still got two there now. My missus is from Fulham originally, and she misses London, so I think she would like to move back eventually.

“But we have been very happy bringing up the kids here, especially as there’s so much going on everywhere else - it’s a pretty dire situation at the moment. Kids are either indoors playing on computers or they’re in gangs. In fact it’s a pretty dire state of affairs all round with British politics at the moment.

“We’ve been writing lyrics about these sort of issues for 30 years and nothing’s really changed - if anything it’s getting worse.”

(The name UB40 was chosen in reference to a form issued to people claiming unemployment benefits).

Ali left UB40 in 2008 citing business management issues and was then reunited with Astro when he left in 2013. To avoid confusion with 'the other UB40' (the band that carried on using the name UB40 after 2008, made up of other founding members and new members), Ali and Astro make it clear they are a separate entity.

Although Ali loves his peaceful home life, he says he does look forward to getting back on the road for a while.

“I can’t believe its going to be our 40th anniversary tour though – it feels absurd.”

Their latest album, A Real Labour Of Love, is their most successful album for 25 years reaching number two in the charts. So what is the secret of the band’s longevity?

“It’s reggae, “ says Ali. “When I started UB40 in 1979 we chose reggae as our genre which was one of the youngest music forms in the world back then, and 40 years later, reggae is more influential than ever. Justin Bieber and Katy Perry are using reggae beats now.

"CDs don’t have the same impact that they used to have. My kids like vinyl but they just download music - they don’t own anything

"I have Bob Marley and the Wailers on vinyl and used to listen to it like a religion every day and would hold the cover and read all the lyrics and study the artwork.

"But you have to adapt - music is a cyclical thing - there's always something new coming along - you have to play live to make money."

UB40's The Real Labour of Love tour features some of their greatest hits plus songs from the new album. Fans will be able to enjoy hits including Red Red Wine, Cherry Oh Baby, Rat In Mi Kitchen and Kingston Town. Ali and Astro will be joined on-stage by an eight-piece reggae band. The band recently performed a headline show at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Ali said: “We’ve had more hits than any other act in the eighties so we’ve got a big back catalogue to choose from.”

Looking back over his long career in the music business, Ali says he feels very lucky.

“I’ve got a lovely wife and wonderful kids, and I’m still doing what I started doing all those years ago.

“As long as people still want to keep seeing us, we’ll keep turning up!”

*UB40 featuring Ali Campbell and Astro play the BIC on Monday, March 25. UB40 featuring five founding members Robin Campbell, Brian Travers, Jimmy Brown, Earl Falconer and Norman Hassan, and long-time members Duncan Campbell, Martin Meredith, Lawrence Parry and Tony Mullings will play Lighthouse, Poole, on Thursday, April 4. Call the respective box office for tickets.