Blog: Jules,#39; News For March

Today, as I travel by train from Turin to Rome, I take time to reflect on the Millennium Gathering… For me, the Gathering has become a momentous moment in the MPO Calendar. Each year, the Gathering gains more significance for all of us and it is with great emotion that I watch Mike walk out on that special Friday night to a rapturous welcome from his most amazing fans. I think both the audience and the MPO are saturated with the weight of expectation and it is a nervous time for each and everyone of us (Mike included) as we hope and pray that the Gathering weekend will live up to all the hype!

This Gathering weekend passed in a blur… From a production point of view, it was the busiest yet. In this, I was aided by my co-pilot of MPO Productions, Danny Cohen, Editor of the 21st Century Fanzine. Danny plays an integral role in pulling the whole weekend together. His attention to detail is immaculate and it is this application of loving care which helps to make the weekend run so smoothly. Danny works very closely with Mike and responds to Mike's every wish and command as the weekend progresses. As you can imagine, Mike rcsponds very much to the 'moment 'and as a consequence Danny is often faced with the ultimate challenge at the very last minute.

In fact, I owe much to the MPO Team. Mike Jones, the sound engineer preciously guards his sound and masterfully crafts a superb acoustic and electric sonic background for the occasion. Behind the scenes, Steve Nightrider Jones keeps the band tuned up, stringed up, watered up and whatever else they require in the 'upped up' department. This year, we were joined on lights by Alarm stalwart and the man that taught me all there is to know about 'Tour Mangagement', Mr. Bobby Troman, whom I think, we will all agree, lit the band magnificently!!! In the wings, here there and everywhere, flies the wonderful 'Webby' who is at our beck and call for all those last minute requests like 'Can you go to Asda again for more beer, please Webby?' (

How could I forget my MPO Department Store Team, made up from the very finest MPO members, the MPO ambassadors who attend and assist at MPO concerts all over the country and all over the world. Here at the Gathering, the MPO Merch Team face their biggest challenge. The MPO Shop, on a par with Man Utd Merchandise, offers a gigantic choice of T shirts and 21st Century Clothing and it is the Merch Team who gamely grapple with MPO 'produce' all weekend long, assisting guys like 'The Fat Boyz' who yearn for XXL size MPO T shirts!

The North Wales Theatre Management and crew are another integral link, opening their doors to us and allowing us to transform the theatre into the MPO House Party. Big thanks to Nick, Adrian, Huw and Adam together with all the backroom boys and girls who ensure the efficient running of the event.

In charge of the Guest List and Box Office we are in the safe hands of Mr. Donald Klein, all the way from New Jersey, USA…Chief of the MPO Department Store is Dot, Marj, the Tea lady and Butty Maker (also known as Mike's Mum) Andy , the MPO Scmoozer, Laurie and Jamie the 'B' Production Team, Gary Dewart, our accommodating Sponsor, Mr. Miller, the PA Boyos (Buzz and Hubert) who make the sound all possible, Mr. Modnuss Modnussen and his lovely assistants, Leslie and Chris, Dr K , for all his invaluable artistic assistance and of course Peter, the Godfather of the MPO, without whom…

And then there's you … the best audience in the world…

As the doors open and a river of faces pour by I stand amazed at the loyalty displayed to Mike and the music of The Alarm – as people from allover the word make the trip to the picturesque Victorian town of Llandudno North Wales. As a teenager, growing up in North Wales, Mike the young boy, staring out at the Mersey Lights, could only have dreamt of such things..

Back in 1992 when Mike first conceived the idea of the Gathering, I remember vividly Mike scribbling letters to the original 687 members of the Fan Club to invite them to his own Christmas bash in the hometown of The Alarm, (the mecca of North Wales and my home-stomping ground), Rhyl.

Little did we realise what Mike had started. From Rhyl to Llandudno and now the eighth time we have all taken the time and the trouble to gather and celebrate the music of Mike and The Alarm, past, present and future…

This year, the lead up to the Gathering was faster and more furious than ever before. Mike and I were still recovering from the aftershocks of the colossal North American and Mexican tour. Mike in truth was as fresh as a daisy (the constitution of a horse was in fact the description afforded to Mike during his 1995 health tussle!). I meanwhile had been knocked sideways by influenza, caught sadly on the 19th Dec at the Cottier Theatre in Glasgow. That night was a very special Mike Peters performance but horrendously cold and much to my cost.

Consequently, Christmas in the Peters' household is traditionally given over to preparations for the Gathering weekend. No matter how hard one prepares in the lead-up to the Gathering, the attention to detail demanded is all consuming…

This year, the lead-up was enhanced by the potential apperance of Mr. #. Whilst appreciating the significance of Dave's appearance at the Gathering, I admit to a large inward sigh of relief upon Dave's last-minute change of plans. (I know, shame on me..) After already accommodating Mr. Duffy, Mr. Macdonald, Mr. Taylor and many others in the past, I knew only too well how much more workload the 'special guest' creates. Once it became clear that Sharpy was not coming, 'SuperMike' set about trying to make it possible over the internet. I groaned as Mike instructed me to check out the possibility of connecting the Kerry Bar, New Orleans and the North Wales Theatre via video link whilst at the same time admiring his energy and enthusiasm. Eventually, it was decided that Dave would record a video message instead and Fedex it to Llandudno. We waited and waited and we waited but the tape sadly never arrived (it did arrive eventually on the Monday morning). However, all was not lost when Dave telephoned the Gathering on the Friday night, totally unarranged, and by a miracle we were able to thrust the cell phone at Mike just as he was departing the stage after a rapturous 'Walk Forever By My Side'. It was a fitting ending to the night as Mike held up the cell phone to the microphone, instructed the packed house to be silent, as Dave Sharp was faintly heard wishing the assembled MPO-ers 'Happy New Year'…

The week leading up to the Gathering consisted of marathon MPO sessions and of course non-stop band rehearsals. Being reunited with Craig Adams, James Stevenson and Steve Grantley is always a total pleasure and they are welcomed home warmly. We even manage to sneak a few wild sessions down the local, sans Mike who is usually elsewhere plotting and planning some new venture. My only fear was that the boys seeemed much more obsessed with the 'Children of the Revolution' rather than perfecting new Alarm songs and Mike Peters' compositions. Every time I popped by rehearsals, they were stood there caught with their pants down and their wigs on (I kid you not) and every time I arrived home there they were sheepishly huddled around the stereo and Mike's Glam Rock Collection. I feared the worst.. 🙂

However, as they are Rock stalwarts, they were also feverishly devouring Alarm songs and Mike Peters ditties at an Alarming pace. I've never quite experienced musicians who are so able to play Alarm songs to perfection and for those of you lucky enough to see Mike and the boys supporting Big County in December, it was universally agreed that this is 'as good as it gets' in an electric sense.

The Gathering 8 went pretty much to perfection, it has to be said. Mike worked tirelessly to make sure that almost every song you could ever dream of from his solo and Alarm collection was played. It was a marathon session for both band and audience as the weekend unfolded. I'll leave the details to those who came, saw and conquered but for me and the rest of the MPO Crew, we felt exhausted and exhilirated by the Sunday, happy in the knowledge that we had all given it our all…

…Here in Rome, we had barely recovered from the Gathering weekend, and it was a welcome surprise to receive such a warm and enthusiastic reception from our Italian friends. Following on from The Alarm's success in Italy, Mike is now forging a solid solo career with regular six monthly trips which naturally, I find to be one of the more difficult aspects to Mike's touring activities 🙂 It was obviously a strain explaining the philosophies of the MPO to all those Italian male fans but I fought gamely on:)

I'm speeding through the Italian experience somewhat because as you have probably gathered, I have shirked my 'Jules News' responsibilities recently, not because there is not enough to report, but absolutely because there is too much to report…

The month is now March and Mike is currently in Los Angeles and New York (yes, I know, hard life). I declined the offer to accompany him (despite the temptation of spending a week with Billy in LA) mainly in part to the busy nature of MPO HQ. There has been no let-up since the Gathering and here we all are, already planning the Alarm 2000 Day and balancing the plates of the Alarm 2000 Collection. There are only a few tickets left on this day, March 7th and 'Walk Forever' has already been requested over 300 times! To clarify, Mike will be recording each track individually so there will be 300 subtly different versions of 'Walk Forever' dedication CD's floating around!

With regards to Alarm 2000 Day, Twist can't make it and Sharp is still thinking about it, although # recently issued a statement saying that it was unlikely. We shall see. In any event, Mike will no doubt host Alarm 2000 Day in the U.S, maybe in New Orleans…? The UK day looks like it will be very special with Mike performing the entire Alarm catalogue in one marathon day, complete with question and answer analysis and other Peters' surprises along the way.

Mike called me from New York this morning where he's having a wonderful time, hanging out with old friends. NYC is a bit of a home from home for Mike as he has a strong circle of friends there. In fact, he's probably out shopping for shirts on the streets of Manhattan, right now. He had an industrious time in California too, hanging out with Steve Fulton, our very own WebMaster and staying over with our very own Billy Duffy (currently working with Ian Astbury in LA on the new Cult record). Mike and Billy were in town together to oversee the remixes of the Coloursound session (4 tracks) for future release in the USA. A new photo session was undertaken also (another excuse for more shirt-buying) and so it's all exciting stuff. Mike and Billy have also begun work on the new Coloursound record and decided to keep these new compositions off the US Coloursound eponymous release in preparation for the second Coloursound album. The band for the millennium, otherwise known as Coloursound, also took time out to hang out in some salubrious LA nightspots where they were spotted indulging in a spot of socialising with Alarm fan, Billy Corgan, from Smashing Pumpkins and Twiggy from Marilyn Manson.

I'm recovering from a spot of socialisng myself actually (surprise surprise) and the jack and ginger is avenging me big time as the day progresses. When will I ever learn? You would have thought my Mexican pebble-dashing session would have taught me a lesson. On top of that I have to make a quick recovery in preparation for the Mikey Boy's return and our Big Friday Night out down the local later this week…

I'll leave you at this point and promise faithfully to be more efficient in future. There is much to discuss ahead and very exciting times to be had… Next time tune in for the very latest Jules' News on Mike's NYC shopping spree, Mike and Big Country in Europe, Alarm 2000 Day, the Alarm 2000 Collection, Coloursound and Mike's 'Walk Forever' induced insanity…

Bye for now,

Jules News

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