I’ve just got back after a 3-hour drive from Llandudno, and easily two of the best gigs I’ve ever been to.
I’m an 18 year old student, so I haven’t been an Alarm/Mike Peters fan for as long as some. I first saw the band when they supported Status Quo a few years ago, and they instantly became my favourite band (they blew the Quo away!).
Friday night’s acoustic set was full of older songs from the 80s, and I loved hearing so many of the classic tracks that I’ve never heard live before. Eye of the Hurricane, Majority and the medley of favourites in the middle of Moments In Time at the end of the set were particular highlights for me. The reaction from the crowd when Mike ripped into Declaration after singing "We were playing those guitars at a frantic pace" was electrifying. Me and a friend managed to get a spot right underneath Mike’s mic on the "South side" so it was even more special!
Saturday night was even better. Being a slightly newer fan, Under Attack has always been my favourite Alarm album, and I’ve really loved the Counter Attack EPs that have been arriving throughout the year. I still think most of this music sounds much fresher than all the other supposedly new ‘young’ bands out there.
The set started off brilliantly with the band exploding into Three Sevens Clash, one of my favourite songs, followed closely by Where Were You Hiding, Fight Back and Absolute Reality. An absolutely storming start which set the tone for the night. The energy just did not let up from there, and for just under 3 hours the band were on top form. The first portion of the set was made up mostly of newer songs from Under Attack and Counter Attack (with The Deceiver thrown in for good measure!). Blaze of Glory closed the first part of the set after 45 mins, the first time I’ve heard it played in the middle of set (ever since I’ve been a fan, it’s always been at the end). Then the band surprised everyone by moving to a small stage in the middle of the audience that had been left over from Friday night. The boys then played Breathe, Close, RBWISF and 21st Century in a stripped-down style (but still with electric guitars and a small dru m kit).
Mike then returned to the stage, where the band came back with One Step Closer to Home, Hurricane-style. In the last part of the set before the first encore, Strength was played, a song I’ve never heard played electrically before, and its power was unbelievable. The band then eventually left the stage, coming back on for the first encore and playing some of the favourites like Deeside, Marching On and The Stand. They also played Trafficking, the first time I’ve ever heard this live. Such a great riff!
The second encore began with 45 RPM and a new punk medley was played, with New Rose, Boredom, God Save the Queen and Sheena Is A Punk Rocker. A rousing Spirit of ’76 and Love Hope Strength closed the set and The Gathering in style.
This was my third Gathering, and they’ve been getting better every year. I just loved hearing the newer songs that I love so much alongside many of the older ones that I haven’t heard played electrically before. A perfect combination!
Craig and Steve were as usual on top form, really holding the band together and pushing them on. James in particular was superb, he really hit the solos and just sounded fantastic. Mike was of course, also brilliant, and the energy he showed bounding around the stage was unbelievable. A true inspiration. I’ll trying my hardest to be back next year.
Here’s a rough set list. I think all the songs are there, but they might be in slightly the wrong order:
THREE SEVENS CLASH
WHERE WERE YOU HIDING WHEN THE STORM BROKE?
CEASE AND DESIST
I NEVER LEFT I ONLY WENT AWAY
THE ALARM CALLING
BLAZE OF GLORY
RIGHT BACK WHERE I STARTED FROM
INTO THE 21ST CENTURY
ONE STEP CLOSER TO HOME
THE DRUNK AND THE DISORDERLY
RAIN IN THE SUMMERTIME
SOLD ME DOWN THE RIVER
WITHOUT A FIGHT
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
SHEENA IS A PUNK ROCKER
SPIRIT OF �76
LOVE HOPE STRENGTH