If you go down to the woods this weekend, you’re sure of a big surprise.
For Sherwood Forest is playing host to three nights of live music as part of the Forestry Commission’s annual Forest Live concert series.
Forest Live sees top acts perform “special concerts in seven fabulous forest venues throughout England” – with a trio of shows set for Sherwood Forest in north Nottinghamshire this weekend.
Tomorrow sees Sheffield favourite Paul Heaton take to the stage near Edwinstowe alongside Jacqui Abbott – with special guest Billy Bragg.
And on Saturday night, fresh from a sell-out show at Sheffield City Hall, it is the turn of Take That star Gary Barlow, with another sell-out performance.
On Sunday, the trees will shake to the sound of reggae as UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey perform.
Lead singer Ali Campbell and keyboard player Mickey Virtue quit the original UB40 in 2008 – although the band, “the other UB40”, still featuring Ali’s brother Robin and now fronted by another Campbell brother in Duncan, continues to perform.
Another founding member, rapper Terence “Astro” Wilson, quit in 2013 before reuniting with Ali and Mickey to perform, also under the UB40 name.
Little love is lost between the two UB40s – Ali has told The Star in the past “he other UB40 did a country and western record, which did hideously badly, but I am still promoting reggae”, as well as adding in another interview “I keep seeing Duncan singing my songs on YouTube and words fail me, I think he’s destroying the legacy of the band and the worst and most embarrassing thing is that people think it’s me” – but Ali is looking forward to dusting off the old tunes at Forest Live.
He says: “We love the Forest Live gigs.
“We hope to see you there, so you can join in with the hits in such a beautiful location.”
The trio will be performing a “set of classic hits that a generation of fans grew up with”, such as Food For Thought, One in Ten, Red Red Wine, Please Don’t Make Me Cry, Kingston Town and (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You, “acknowledging UB40’s status as Britain’s most successful reggae band of all time”.
Astro says: “The show is a celebration.
“We’d be in big trouble if we didn’t play songs like Can’t Help Falling in Love, Red Red Wine and Kingston Town – there’d be riot on our hands.”
Fans can also expect some tracks from the trio’s latest album, number-two hit A Real Labour of Love, featuring more covers of reggae classics loved by the band and the fourth UB40 Labour of Love reggae classics long-player since the original topped the charts back in 1983.
Astro, aged 60, says: “A Real Labour of Love is all reggae classics to us.
“It takes us back to the first one.
“We’ve started doing some tunes from the new album in the live shows as well, which are going down well.”
And Astro is excited to return to a woodland setting to perform.
“We did a few Forest Live shows a few years ago,” he says. “It’s just a fabulous day out.
“Families can come out with picnics, kids can have a dance, all set in beautiful scenery – and we have got a great set as well, but it’s always dependent on the weather.
“Hopefully it will be absolutely beautiful.”
And the forecast is looking good, with sunny intervals forecast for a breezy Edwinstowe and temperatures set to peak at about 23C in the early evening.
Support for UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey comes from Radio Riddler.
For tickets, priced from £39.50, see forestry.gov.uk or call the box office on 0300 068 0400.
Tickets for Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, priced from £33.50, are available from the same places.