My Alarm story starts back in 1985 when I stumbled across a little known Irish band called ‘U2’ who were beamed into my living room while they performed on stage at ‘Live Aid’, no really sure what it was about them but something just struck a cord with me when I heard the guitar piece during ‘Bad’, I rushed down to the local ‘Our Price’ record store and bought all of their albums that I could afford, after playing their albums to death, I soon wanted more and I turned to a rather dodgy advert in the NME classifieds advertising U2 bootleg tapes. I hastily got myself a postal order and made it payable to Peter Cole and I sent off it off to an address in Fleet in Hampshire. About a week later a package dropped through my door with a selection of cassettes in, as well all the live U2 material, taped on a gap at the end of the TDK C90 was a few tracks by some band that I had never heard of called The Alarm who at the time I thought sounded a bit like U2. I then went off again to Our Price’ and purchased myself a copy of ‘Declaration’ and a picture disc copy of the album ‘Strength’ after a few weeks of playing the albums to death I was hooked songs like ‘Knife Edge’, ‘Dawn Chorus’, ‘Howling Wind’ and of course ’68 Guns’ would all you could hear coming from my bedroom……with my Dad regularly shout up the stairs “Turn that bloody rubbish down”. I soon became acquainted with my two other favourite bands of the time Big Country and Simple Minds and started going to gigs include 3 dates of the Big Country Seer Tour in 1986 and a massive open air gig to see Simple Minds at Milton Keynes Bowl supported by The Waterboys and The Cult, at that stage I was usually accompanied by my Uncles as my parents would not trust me to go alone, they said gigs were dangerous!!
In 1987 the Joshua Tree was released and U2 announced a UK tour, I just had to be there whatever it takes, I had a Saturday job in a department store and saved a few quid enough to get a ticket to see them at Wembley Stadium on 13th June, then to my dismay U2 announced an extra show at Cardiff in July and The Alarm were announced a support. I could not afford a ticket for this as well, but I begged and pleaded with my parents and finally they relented paying for a ticket via a local concert travel club from Poole to Cardiff and this time I was allowed to go on my own!! The Wembley Stadium gig arrived and of course U2 just blew me away, I spend the whole gig crying my eyes out, I was so happy, it was like a religious experience seeing them perform live. It seemed to take ages for the next gig to arrive and when it did, I got into the Cardiff Arms Park Stadium and pushed my way to the front to make sure I had a good spot for my 1st ‘Alarm’ experience. After the 1st support ‘The Silencers’ finished their set, I was really not ready for what happened next, the 45 minute set went by so fast………Mike Peters appeared all dressed in white denim and sang the opening line “Give me love give me hope give me strength give me something to live for”, Dave Sharp’s guitar kicked in and the whole of the stadium was bouncing, and from that very moment I became an Alarm fan. That day they played ‘Knife Edge’, ‘Blaze Of Glory’, ‘Absolute Reality’ and a taste of the future in the form of an amazing track ‘Newtown Jericho’. The music was delivered with such a sincerity and a true passion, that myself a 17 impressionable teenager was just mesmerised and hooked from then.
1987 saw the release of ‘Eye Of The Hurricane’ and this gave me a chance to see than band once again live, by then the dodgy dealer of Bootleg tapes Pete Cole from Hampshire had become a great friend, he introduced me to a few of his friends who also were Alarm fans (Ady Evans, Pat Sullivan). The dates at Hammersmith Odeon, Kilburn National Ballroom and Portsmouth Guildhall were momentous and the band played amazing two hour sets that just thrilled me to the core, my parents just could not understand what I was going to the same band over and over again. The more gigs I went to the more friends I made, everybody was so kind, lifts were offered, as were places to stay. They all shared stories of meeting the band getting on guest lists watching soundchecks etc . I first got to meet Mike after waiting what seemed like forever, waiting in a cold alleyway at the back of Hammersmith Odeon in February, I did not quite know what to say to him but shook his hand got a 35mm picture of me with him as a souvenir. From then on I really felt part of the Alarm family, the fans and the band started to get to know ‘Dave’ from Poole and always welcomed me each time with opened arms, each time I met Mike, he stunningly remembered my name, making me feel so special, I went around proudly telling all my friends at home “Did you know I’m mates with Mike Peters of The Alarm’!!
The years rolled by and every chance that I got I went off to see The Alarm at whatever show or whatever tour they were doing. In 1991 I got the chance to go to a Festival in Germany called the Gissen Festival, there were so many of my favourite bands of the time performing New Model Army, Stiff Little Fingers, Ride , Lush, The Pixies and of course The Alarm. The Alarm’s performance was the last that I was to see with the current line up as the night after this they split up on stage at Brixton Academy. I was of course devastated, but I threw my energies in to lots of the other bands around at the time, I thought at that stage a big chapter of my life was over. I did not really have anything to do with any of the band’s solo projects, maybe I was grieving a loss of something really special, and it took me until 1998 to see Mike again when he played a solo show at The Brook in Southampton, hearing all the familiar songs once again ignited the fire in my belly, it just bought it all flooding back, I was off again and was soon flying round the country watching Mike Supporting Big Country on the Final Fling tour.
The Gathering was something that I only discovered in 2000, I went along to Llandudno with Pete Cole and another new buddy Darren Atkinson and once again found my place in the heart of the Alarm family. there were again lots of familiar faces along with loads of new friends Andy & Sam Greenley, John & Heather Lampit, Rue Todd, Pauline(Batspice), Katrina, Jackie, Lilly, Simon, Gol, Skinny, Barney Rumble, Rockin’ Rev, Michelle, New York Tim, Dougie, Steve’The Hair’ Webster and literally loads of others, it was a weekend that changed my January’s in the future as it meant each year I would make the trip to North Wales to celebrate the band’s music in a big way. Each year there is always something different to look forward too as well as a great weekend of some brilliant music, it is also a chance to catch up with everyone who sometime you only see from one year to the next. I can honestly say some of The Alarm’s best performances have been at various Gatherings over the years. The thing I love so much about Mike Peters and the band of muscians he surrounds himself with is the way they keep reinventing themselves with lots of very different projects such as Coloursound, Dead Men Walking, Los Mondo Bongo, Children Of The Revolution, Big Country and of course his solo work, and I have been very privileged to have seen all in most cases more than a few times.
The memories just stretch back for years and years: like the time I had a surprise trip arranged by my wife to go and see The Alarm in Chicago, Mike make a special point to give me a shout out during a song and came up to me and hugged me after the show, the day the original four guys got back together at the Scala in London in 2003, seeing Dead MenWalking in Aldershot chatting to Mike in the dressing room after the show and Captain Sensible joined us dressed in just his leopard skin print pants, spending 3 hours with Mike in Poole having a beer at the bar after a show supporting Bob Geldof, Mike spoke non stop about his love for The Clash and more recently I got the chance to interview Mike for a local website during the Los Mondo Bongo tour. I am so proud to be part of this huge ever growing family and will continue to be as long as Mike and the band produce out music.