The Alarm - Cardiff, University - 1st March 2013 Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 04:00

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Well would you believe the luck? March the 1st, St. David's Day here in Wales and I happen to find myself in a very busy students union hall waiting for Wales' first prince of rock 'n' roll to take the stage (no, it's not Shakin' Stevens), none other than Mike Peters and his current line up of The Alarm, with a brand new album primed to coincide with the movie it inspired ready for release across the globe and fresh from The Gathering 21 (the annual all things Alarm and Mike Peters festival that takes place in Mike's hometown of Prestatyn every January where fans from all over the globe get together and immerse themselves in the man's music past and present).
 
Cast your minds back to the early '80s and four spikey haired lads who were a figure of fun for large swathes of the media and a band who were once described by the late, great Joe Strummer as the wrapping on the chocolate bar when held up against his band, The Clash. Well, through a lengthy hiatus, a solo career, numerous line up changes and about a bazillion CD releases The Alarm 2013 consists of long time bass player and current mission man Craig Adams, one time Kim Wilde, Chelsea, Gene Loves Jezebel (and about another hundred bands and musicians including Glen Matlock) guitar slinger James Stevenson, former Lords of the New Church, Simple Minds, Elton John piano player Mark Taylor, and most recent drum stool patron, Smiley.
 
Time to lay my cards on the table here and announce that from the pre Declaration days in the early '80s I've seen the Alarm/Mike Peters live almost 200 times! There I've said it now so it's safe to say that I'm fairly familiar with the stories of what, where and when when it comes to songs, where they come from and anecdotes that go with certain songs. This might also sound strange to admit that whilst I have all the records, DVDs, videos and hundreds of bootlegs I wouldn't describe myself as a disciple who loves every record because I've seen my fair share of average shows, from stadium gigs to club gigs to large hall gigs, and even seen him in a castle and a record shop. I'd also go so far as to say there are many songs I would happily see left off the set, so it's with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation I enter tonight's show knowing that with a new album ready to go I might just get a fresh set and some lesser known tunes from the overwhelming arsenal of music Mike Peters has amassed throughout his musical journey.
 
The house lights dim and the FA Cup classic booms out over the PA. 'Abide With Me' makes way for the song that kicked off the 'Vinyl' idea and a fantastic rush of electric guitar it is too, and one of the finest tunes Peters has ever written. '45 RPM' is a curious opener and not something I've heard him do before but all power to his elbow, great move.
 
No time for messing about or introductions and we're into 'Alarm Calling' followed by the excellent, hard rockin' 'Superchannel'. So far so good; the band sound well up for it and the audience are swept along on the energy given off by the band.  
 
By the time we get to the 'Spirit Of 76' we've also seen off newer songs like The Who-inspired 'Drunk And Disorderly', newer tune 'Swansong' and the title track of his first foray into the solo musician world, 'Breathe'. Then the band race offstage only to return in biker jackets and 'Gabba Gabba Hey' sign declaring 'Free Rock And Roll' as Peters tells all about the new album and movie starring Phil Daniels based on when the band duped Radio 1 and stitched them up with the '45 RPM' single by hiring some good looking kids to mime to a video of the song before presenting it as a new band in order to get it air play after being told The Alarm were too old and not fashionable to have a hit or get played on the radio! Well, guess what? Chris Moyles fell for it as did plenty of others before the swindle was announced and it went viral about what had happened and confirmed something we already knew - this sometimes wonderful industry is riddled with fakers and scenesters who wouldn't know a good song or band if it smacked them in the face, but only care about the kids hungry for 15 minutes of fame via some fake Saturday night TV show or a band who wear the right pants and rosary beads whilst suckling on the teet of money hungry managers and "personalities" before they move onto the next sucker.
 
I'm rambling now I know but the story is a cracker and so is the film and for the next thirty minutes we get treated to a decent number of songs that feature on the new album and movie including songs Peter wrote back when he supported the original Clash line up and the decidedly punky Ramones influenced, 'Free Rock And Roll'.
 
With the blink of an eye we're back into the middle eight of 'Spirit of 76' and on with the show.
 
Working into a timeline medley we're in the home straight and it's time for the hits as 'Marching On' into '68 Guns' and 'Where Were You Hiding' get blasted out with a renewed vigour and even though I must have heard and seen those songs more times that 99% of the band have played them I still don't get bored. As the band heads off the stage I now realise that tonight the band have played a blinder of a set and managed to miss out some of the duller songs that see me drift off from 'Eye Of The Hurricane' and 'Strength'.  
 
With curfew getting ever closer and seeing as it's Wales and St. David's Day it seemed an obvious choice and time to play 'A New South Wales' from the 'Change' album before an emotional 'Moments In Time' finishes the set. Caught in the moment Mike strikes up a chord and leads the band through a decent and obviously unrehearsed 'Bells Of Rhymney' and then it really is over. Almost two hours of music flew by and a great set of old and new songs are played to a very appreciative audience something I've seen The Alarm do in this city on many, many occasions from the New Ocean Club to the Arms Park, from the Great Hall to the Coal Exchange I've kept coming back time and time again and on this strength (no pun intended) I'll do so again, willingly. Bring on the new album and 'Vinyl' movie release, these are once again good times to be an Alarm fan. Diawn diolch and keep flying the flag for independent free rock and roll.

 

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