The Alarm Gathering Twenty Two - Llandudno, Venue Cymru - 31st Jan - 2nd Feb 2014 Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 03:00

Gathering poster

Friday Night


I can't believe it's been over two decades that I've made the long trip from South to North for the Annual Gathering of all things Mike Peters and The Alarm. Two decades. And before anyone says, I know, I hardly look old enough...but I am.


Spread out over a weekend Friday sees Mike Peters strap on the familiar acoustic guitar and play in the round (although technically it's a square) surrounded by excited fans awaiting the acoustic set list whilst the beer flows and the requests get shouted. Tonight Peters begins with a rousing version of 'The Stand'. Mike introduces the next song as the first song The Alarm ever played live as he struck up the chords for 'Shout At The Devil'. With it being the Thirtieth Anniversary of the debut long player, and arguably the finest hour in the band's history, Mike is playing pretty much everything from that period but with many of the songs having new arrangements and original lyrics added.


Mike is joined onstage by the walking music player that is better known as Smiley who tonight is playing the mandolin, bass drum and backing vocals for a very different arrangement of 'Howling Wind'.


With so many songs to pick from it's always going to be a case of trying to please many types of fan over this weekend as these are die hard Alarm fans who will always yearn for the original line-up even if the current line-up has been together longer. There are also fans who have grown up with just the solo Mike Peters albums and only have a passing interest in The Alarm songs from thirty years ago. But Mike being Mike tries to please everybody by covering as much of his glittering back catalogue as possible as well as throwing in some very rare tunes, tonight being no exception as we get 'Refugee In The Westworld' as well as the very underrated Coloursound tune 'State Of Independence' which is nestled in between newer solo material and old Alarm classics.


Tonight Peters also pays tribute to the recently departed singer songwriter Pete Seeger and offers up a rousing 'Bells Of Rhymney'. I think I'm correct in saying that by this moment pretty much all Alarm albums are represented with only 'Raw' taking a back seat. Mike takes a moment to dedicate 'Train A Coming' to his parents and siblings, he is then joined onstage by his friend Jules who plays violin on a song dedicated and written about his passed friend and Big Country singer Stuart Adamson. Then the gloves come off and 'Marching On' signals the time for Mike and Smiley to be joined by Craig Adams and James Stevenson as '68 Guns' is given a run through, complete with the missing verse before 'Blaze Of Glory' hints that the evening's about to end.


Before calling time on a great set on this cold and gusty Friday night in North Wales Mike called Dr. David Edwards to the stage who has been looking after Peters for some seventeen years whilst he fights cancer and has been a constant source of inspiration for the singer who began a charity some years ago and tonight handed over a cheque for £40,000 to open a wing at the hospital local to Peters which capped off the evening in fine style as the rocking doctor strapped on a six string and joined the band in tonight's finale of 'Love Hope And Strength'.


In over two and a half hours I was entertained with a run through Mike Peters' impressive cannon of material and it set the tone for Saturday night's electric concert prefectly...


Saturday Night


Saturday night and the amps are humming and the dry ice floods from the stage as the band assemble on the stage and curiously kick off the electric night with '68 Guns'. The bar is set high. Quickly one realises that tonight Peters is in determined mood and is going through the decades with purpose: 'My Hometown', 'Feel Free', 'Under The Sun' are all knocked out with much gusto and aplomb before 'Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke' ended the first set.


After a short break 'Superchannel' blasted in the second set before the stage gave way to old Alarm favourite 'Absolute Reality'. After a few more choice picks the stage is cleared and it's just Peters and keyboard player Mark Taylor left on the stage as they run through 'Walk Forever By My Side' which signals a change in pace as the pair are joined by the rest of the band and violinist Jules as the band go through a romping version of 'Gone Elvis' complete with mandolin accordion and the aforementioned violin, as well as bass and guitars. It then seemed inspired as 'Bound For Glory' is given a traditional stomp before the much underrated Coloursound tune 'Fade In, Fade Out, Fade Away' is ushered in. It's time then for some early Alarm classics that give the crowd a second wind as 'Sold Me Down The River' and 'Rain In The Summertime' are pumped out. 'Without A Fight' is dedicated to fellow cancer sufferer Dave who is brought out onto the stage to play with his heroes. Later on Mike brings out several special guests in the shape of his two sons and a bunch of kids from their school all decked out in rock and roll fatigues to play along to the Willie Nile classic 'One Guitar' then 'Rescue Me' leads to 'Spirit Of 76' and set two is brought to a close after three hours and forty minutes had just been blown away!


With still time for a further encore Peters was smashing all previous Gathering records as 'In The Poppyfields' and 'Marching On' get aired. This isn't the end, mind - for a final time Craig Adams, James Stevenson, Smiley, Marky Taylor and Mike Peters take to the stage for a final hurrah of '45 RPM', 'Moments In Time' and, to cap off a spectacular night, 'Blaze Of Glory', then they were gone. To be fair they had just played for over four hours!


In all the years I've been going to gigs I must have seen thousands of bands but never before had I seen one play for so long and in fairness it didn't seem over four hours which I think is testament to the choice of the set and how it was played out. Springsteen eat your heart out this was a marathon done at a sprint: over forty songs from all eras of the band, surely there isn't one single disappointed person leaving this arena tonight? Simply awesome!


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