My love/obsession for all things Alarm can be traced back to September 1983, when the 15 year old Pete first heard the classic ’68 guns’ on TVam just before leaving for school. The breakfast programme always showed a clip of a music video just before the weather forecast/news and Wincey the Weather (the presenter) was caught dancing when the video ended!
The uplifting tune, coupled with the spiky hair and cowboy image made a long lasting impression (actually an understatement). Around the same time, I had discovered U2 and their new album ‘War’ and these two bands brought about a total change in the music I listened to from that point onwards. All the bands I have ever loved since, have had The Alarm and U2 as my musical ‘standard’. Around this time I checked out The Alarm’s own influences and become a life-long fan of The Clash, Sex Pistols and Stiff Little Fingers.
I first got to see The Alarm live on the final night of the Absolute Tour in May 1985, at Guildford Civic Hall, I was 16 and went with my mate to Guildford – we only got lost once I think. The Faith Brothers opened that night and I instantly liked their brass-edged soul tinged pop. When The Alarm came on I can still distinctly recall be covered in goose bumps despite it being really hot in the venue. I was completely blown away and hooked by the band’s passion, tunes and presence.
Since that day I have lost count of the actual number of shows I have seen to date, it must be liberally hundreds (including Mike solo and all the spin-of bands; Dead Men Walking, Children of the Revolution, Acoustic Terrorists, Los Mondo Bongo, Dave Sharp solo and with the Barnstormers, Westway…To the Clash, Coloursound and now Big Country).
I first met Mike and the original line-up of the band in Brussels in January 1988, after several of us were thrown out of their soundcheck and the band came outside to say hello shortly afterwards. I was very star truck, but they were lovely and took time to pose for photos, answer our questions and sign autographs and they weren’t in a rush to get away! It soon became a regular occurrence to follow four or five dates on all the tours from that point onwards.
Along the way I met some like-minded fans from all over the UK who became amazing lovely friends to this day – we have almost grown up together, with The Alarm as the soundtrack (that’s you Sue, Fiona, Warren (RIP), Keith (RIP), Ian, Andi, Alison, Pat, Ady, Chinners, Daz, Sarah to name a few…) We were always treated to fantastic support bands like The Faith Brothers, Hard Rain, The Escape Club, The Silencers, Wire Train. Some of the many gig highlights include being pointed out in the crowd by Mike as the ‘Pete’ in Spirit of ’76 at the Royal Court in Liverpool, being on the guest list for the first time in both Cambridge and Birmingham in 1990, the Alarm fan-club organised December 1988 mini tour (a total riot) and having a song dedicated to my now wife and I just before we got married.
Like many other fans, I was very saddened when Mike announced to the fans and the rest of the band on stage at Brixton Academy in June 1991 that he was leaving the band. It was just over a year before Mike was heard of again, when a letter was received from the newly formed MPO announcing Mike Peters and The Poets of Justice debut tour. The first date was the tiny Bath Moles in July 1992.
My mate Steve and I took a drive down the afternoon of their first proper debut. I am pleased to say that we were the first fans to hear the new material (Poetic Justice – what a tune!) and meet the new band, as we sneaked into the soundcheck and were introduced by Mike to Jules, Marytn, David, Ethan (now world famous producer with the likes of Kings of Leon, The Vaccines and Kaiser Chiefs on his CV!)
It is often said that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but Mike Peters is the definite exception to this rule, as he was and continues to be my hero, but on much more a personal level these days. He’s cancer defeater, musical genius (I wonder will U2 and Green Day ever pay their due royalties, will Coldplay ever admit their electro-acoustic sound is ‘’borrowed’ from The Alarm?
I can also hear The Alarm’s influence in the current big acts such as Frank Turner and the Gaslight Anthem. One thing about Mike that I have always thought great is his love of music in general and we have had many long chats about other bands (we share a joint appreciation of the little-known bands Kent and Seafood!)
Despite meeting all of The Alarm ‘Mark 1’ many times (much love and respect to Eddie, Nigel and Dave), The Alarm ‘Mark 2’ are by far more accessible and I have to give a mention to Smiley, Steve, Craig and James too.
Next year will my 30th anniversary of having Mike Peters/The Alarm in my life and my passion shines as strong as ever.