Elation and frustration at UB40 gig

By Doug Laing

4 comments
Traffic came to a standstill as thousands  of people attempted to get to the UB40 show on Friday night. Photo / Paul Taylor
Traffic came to a standstill as thousands of people attempted to get to the UB40 show on Friday night. Photo / Paul Taylor

Hosts of Friday night's UB40 concert east of Hastings are promising to brush up on arrangements for any future concerts which may be held at the Black Barn Vineyards "off-site" venue after dozens of complaints during the weekend.

Complaints targeted traffic congestion, a decision to curtail liquor sales during the night and the level of service for VIP ticketholders at the Kahuranaki Rd paddock venue to which the concert was transferred to cater for demand after the original Black Barn winery venue off Te Mata Rd was sold out within hours when tickets went on sale last May.

The change of venue enabled Black Barn to cater for more than three times the original capacity, with more than 9000 making their way to the Tukituki Valley for the big show.

Black Barn events manager Francis de Jager could not be contacted late yesterday by Hawke's Bay Today, but in earlier reports said this was the first show of its size they had at the venue and "we did have a few teething problems...but we will learn from this when staging concerts here in the future".

Announcing the change of venue last June, Mr de Jager said that while the winery's Te Mata Rd amphitheatre would remain the focus of its events, it was "great to also be able to introduce larger events with international acts on an ongoing basis".

"We really want to make this a legendary venue," he said at the time.

Posting on social media, concertgoers seemed agreed the performance was everything that was expected from the chart-topping reggae veterans, fronted by founding member Ali Campbell.

But access down a country road and to the paddock created lengthy queues for traffic going to the concert, with some reporting they were snarled-up for as much as two hours.

The arrival of UB40 on stage was thus delayed by over half-an-hour, which may have contributed to another problem, with one Napier concertgoer saying that when she arrived many in the crowd were already "schickered", which led to concert management accepting the advice of police to tighten restrictions on wine and beer purchases.

"It was closed about an hour before the end of the show and some people were not happy about this," Mr de Jager said. "But the police were monitoring the levels of intoxication and the problem is some people pre-load at home or in the car park before events like this."

Liquor and food sales were also hit by cash machine problems, thought to have been caused by the nil-to-limited mobile reception in the area interrupting signals for ATM and eftpos use, particularly as thousands of fans also tried to text-message and phone each other around the venue and send gloating messages and concert images to friends who weren't there.

Central Hawke's Bay woman Trish Moke-Ludlow, who was at the concert with husband Marc and their 12-year-old, said they all enjoyed the concert "immensely ".

"Everyone was swaying and enjoying themselves, apologetic if they bumped you, happy people from 12-year-olds to like 80-year-olds," she said. "The sound was crisp, UB40 have a distinct sound, you hear it through the background in their songs. It was great.

"When we were arriving there was a long queue of traffic, but that's expected if you don't get your patch of grass early. I would definitely go again."

UB40 were late yesterday playing at New Plymouth's Bowl of Brooklands, also a second-choice venue after a winery site was unable to cater for demand. The seven-show Red, Red Wine Vineyard Tour, which opened at Kerikeri on Wednesday, ends next weekend with concerts near Queenstown, in North Canterbury, and in West Auckland.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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