Not only will you see a world class band featuring original UB40 members Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue and nine other top-notch musicians, you’ll also enjoy the best sound system setup ever seen in the Cook Islands, in a venue that will bring you close to the action on stage.
And if you don’t yet have a ticket, you’re in luck. They are certainly selling fast, but some excellent seats are still available for the January 29 concert in the National Auditorium if you get in quickly.
As New Zealand promoter Jackie Sanders of Jacman Entertainment points out, even the seats towards the back of the hall are exceptionally good, even by world standards.
There’s still also still some room in the general admissions area, where there will be plenty of space to let loose and dance to one of the best reggae bands of all time.
Sanders, who was recently in Rarotonga with a team of experts to make sure the auditorium can sound its best for the concert, says the fact that there will be a UB40 concert in Rarotonga at all, is thanks largely to the help of generous sponsor Bluesky and the team at Rehab helping to get this off the ground.
With the concert barely viable financially, the well-seasoned promoter says it couldn’t have been held without Bluesky’s support.
“We have looked at staging a concert here in the past, but it just hasn’t been feasible. Previously we looked at a couple of outdoor venues but they needed very specific requirements for staging - and much bigger sound systems are needed outdoors.
“There was also the question of timing, but they are coming to New Zealand in summer, which is also the best time for them to come to Rarotonga.
“When I saw the National Auditorium I thought, if you could see UB40 in that setting in New Zealand it would be considered absolutely stunning. The venue has perfect tiered seating. And there are amazing views of the stage from the back – which is nowhere near as far away from the front as any venues we have seen in either New Zealand or Australia.”
For anyone concerned about the auditorium’s sound quality, Sanders points out that UB40 have international stature and everything has to be done right terms of their requirements for sound.
“The sound system will involve both UB40’s production team and our own production team in New Zealand. If you have the right engineers, they can make it sound amazing.
“We’ve already been out and had a look and our team will be regularly up on Raro to tweak the system here. There are some good things we can do to vastly improve the sound and add to the quality of what’s already there.”
With 11 musicians in the band including the three original members, punters will be in for a “phenomenal” night, Sanders promises.
“The publicity has been all about the main guys, but some interesting musicianship will support them. And to see musicians of that calibre here in the Cook Islands is just amazing.
They’re all highly experienced and have toured with world-famous bands. For people with their depth of knowledge and musicianship to come here to Rarotonga, is just mind-blowing.”
Sanders says band members will be on the island for two and half to three days.
“One arrival day, one day off and then it’s show day. They depart the day after the concert to continue their tour of Australia, then it will be back to New Zealand. We (Jacman Entertainment) have 10 or 11 shows with them. It will be a full-on two weeks.
“The band will at least get some time relax when they get here. We’ll try on the Monday (January 28) to get them out on lagoon cruise, etcetera. There’s not a lot of time, but just being here and being able to experience the food and the island will be great.”
A long time visitor to Rarotonga (“double figures”) Sanders travelled from the United Kingdom 23 years ago to join her parents, who had recently emigrated to New Zealand.
“I spent a couple of weeks here on Rarotonga and did lots of diving. And I’ve been back multiple times since.”
With a long background in sound management at theatres and multi-purpose venues in the UK, she says there wasn’t much theatre work in New Zealand when she first arrived, so she ventured into band management. She also organised a series of sellout concerts at Auckland Zoo featuring bands such as the Black Seeds and Dave Dobbyn, raising money for conservation causes and raising awareness of the zoo.
Five years later she became redundant and with two young children and no job, thought she’d have a go at concert and music festival promotion on her own account.
“That was 10 years ago and it was tough. I didn’t know how hard it would be. The first tour I organised was Spandau Ballet with Paul Young and it was a success. I worked for the Ragamuffin festival for few years and our own festival, ‘Reggae by the River’ for five years and worked with UB40.
“We used to operate just in New Zealand but now its Australia and the Pacific.
Sanders says the UB40 concert will see the National Auditorium turned into a “proper” world class auditorium.
Glenda Tuaine of Motone Productions who is providing Jacman Entertainment with promotions support, says the National Auditorium will be transformed into something “quite different”.
“We’re catering for an audience of 2500 people, but there will be plenty of room for a boogie, and with Rehab delivering the VIP and hospitality and event support this concert will be outstanding.
“No matter where you are seated in the auditorium, you’re going to be able to see UB40 so incredibly close. The stage will be world class too and it’s safe to say you wouldn’t be able to do this anywhere else in the world. All the other sponsorship partners aboard is making it even better.”
The concert setup will include VIP tent area adjoining the dance area. The VIP tickets sold out within a few hours of going on sale in July, the “A Reserve” seats sold in a few days and as of last week “B Reserve” was about half sold, says Sanders.
“Then there are these C Reserve seats at the back and around to the sides. They’re great, because they give a good view and it’s easy to get out – plus they are the cheapest seats. I would go for those seats.”
The general admission standing area will accommodate 500 to 600 people – and it will be a good place to be, says Sanders.
“It’s not far back from the stage, if you want to dance. I wouldn’t be sitting at a UB40 concert.”
One special aspect of the concert is that the audience is coming from “all over” says Sanders, including Australia New Zealand and Pacific countries. And in the meantime, the number of ticket outlets on Rarotonga has also increased. They’re available from Rehab, Chantelle’s, Captain Tamas Cruizes and Bluesky.
“So there’s still good seating available. General admission would be fantastic if you want to dance. Tickets are still available but be quick because the whole venue is going to sell out.”