Blog: Sold out, Sharpening Society and Sold Me Down the River.�

The tour is whizzing by and I don’t even know where to begin since my last recollections… We had a fantastic time in Washington state, particularly in Seattle which was Sold Out. I was run off my feet at the Merch Desk, with Alarm fans registering as new members and other people ordering their boxsets. Mike recorded over ten dedications that night… You are certainly keeping him on his toes and familiar with his own back catalogue. One guy requested ‘Across the Border’ … you should have seen Mike’s face 🙂

All along the West Coast, the venues have been packed to bursting. We didn’t quite know what to expect, returning to the US in an electric capacity as Alarm 2000 after all these years. It has been really exciting to see the reaction from the crowds and to witness the powerful effect of Alarm songs on American people all the way from San Diego to Seattle. More than anything I have felt such a buzz at watching Mike, Dirk, Stevie G and Big Jim play together. I defy any of you not to love it. The chance to hear every single Alarm hit and classic played at such a frantic place is truly amazing.

After all Mike’s hard work and the support of so many of you, his closest fans, it feels wonderful to see the Spikey Boy Kid able to sing the songs of his heritage to his heart’s content with a supportive network of musicians around him as well as a supportive network of fans. I am still amazed to meet such an eclectic bunch of people who all share one passionate Alarming love… Some discovered The Alarm at the age of 11 after watching American Bandstand… one guy had hitched a ride and was turned on to The Alarm after
listening to a tape played in the car… another guy in Seattle nursed his passion after countless Alarm appearances on MTV… each person has a different story to tell and each one is fascinating. Many of these people have never even seen The Alarm play live and so this for many has been their first chance to experience the music of The Alarm live.

Obviously, rock’n roll isn’t all about sold out shows…. I mean there has to be balance doesn’t there.. 🙂 For example I don’t think Montana was ever one of The Alarm’s bigger markets! The only time they ever visited was to record the ‘Sold Me Down the River’ video and that was a near disaster. We all arrived from Wales (the home of miners?) for Mike, Ed, Nige and Dave to be handed the script from hell, complete with ‘love interest’. Mike had the
thankless task of announcing to the 30 or so assembled cast of actors and crew that this was not going to happen and as a result the video script was hurriedly rewritten to actually include the band. We all then spent the next few days lounging around Bute, Montana as the video crew spent a lifteime (as well as a whopping huge budget) to film local Montana miners at work? Mike made sure that ‘A New South Wales’ the following video, was filmed back
in South Wales with Russell Young (Change album photographer and director of ‘Love Don’t Come Easy’ and ‘Unsafe Building’) Afterall, the whole ideology of Change has been borne out of the South Wales valleys, so why go to Montana?!

So here on our second trip to Montana, we were treating our visit more as a sightseeing trip than anything. Suffice to say, we all had a ball and I think the boys played one of their best shows of the tour. I was able to document the show with my digital stills camera and digital video camera so no doubt you videozine purchasers will be treated to the performace at a later date.

At this point of the tour, I think I should point out that the tour has added a new attractive dimension with the creation of the ‘US Micro Brew Sampling Sharpening Society.( or U.M.B.S.S.S. for short). The co-founders are yours truly and the Teenage Wizard, guitar hero, James Stevenson. It all began in Portland really, where James and I discovered a mutual dislike of more mainstream American beers. In our quest to satisfy our tastebuds, we
decided it would be sensible to try a different micro brew in every city. And so we did. In Montana, we both got a little carried away, aided by the fact that the barman was a huge Alarm fan. I think we were able to discuss over 12 brews between us that night. Not for us, Coors, Rolling Rock, or Bud… we drink Fat Tyre, Mirror Pond or Moose Drool (the Moose Drool did make Dirk quite sick though, so care must be taken at all times )… It
wasn’t Kansas City level or Mexico City, thank God, so I didn’t start misbehaving at the merchandise desk or throwing up at inopportune moments but we did all merry down somewhat (apart from Michael Peters who is always a paragon of virtue, bless him, in the protection of his tonsils). I also did meet some very interesting American people and learnt a lot about the Bush/Gore race as well as reading all about Snowmobiling at Yellowstone
Park (apparently snowmobiling will be banned within the next year). Hopefully, I can persuade Mike to join me on a little vacation before next year is out!

So poor Mike has to decline from joining the US Micro Brew Sharpening Sampling Society. Due to the phenomenal success of the Alarm 2000 Collection, Mike spends his entire time chained to the portable recording studio, where he burns of his dedications recorded at the previous night’s show on to CDR. He’s been doing this for almost 11 months now but his
dedication to the task is truly incredible. He won’t even let his trusty Sound Engineer, Michael Jones burn off the CDR’s – Mike insists on covering every angle himself. I’ve seen him record dedications at home in Wales, at the studiio in Wales, on tour in Germany, Belgium , Holland, at rehearsals, at soundchecks, here on tour in America, in the dressing room… you name it… he’s dedicated it… I came on the tour in the hope of spending some more time with him but it doesn’t look meant to be. I see more of James Stevenson to be honest. I’ve seriously considering rooming with Big Jim on tour instead of Mike. ‘Rooming’ is where you decide who will be your most compatible mate for the duration of the tour. James and I are obviously quite compatible in that we share a love of all things ‘sharp’…. Mike P and James are compatible as they share a love of pawn shops amongst other things… Nightrider and Steve Grantley share a Stiff Little Fingers compatibility … Dirk and Michael Jones are compatibly Welsh and Ladies man… well, he’s compatible with almost everyone 🙂

And so it goes…We’re a happy bunch on the road. All 8 of us have been getting on famously and that really counts for something when you’re all cooped up together clocking the miles across America. James and I spend much of our time tapping away the miles on our rock’n roll laptops. As the American countryside flashes by, this is where I play catch up with MPO mail
in conjunction with the MPO staff back in Wales. I’m usually taping away for 8 hours at a time in order to stay on top of things. I’m aided and abetted by my rather glitzy state of the art ‘rock chick’ G3 Apple Macintosh Powerbook. Oe er. I adore her and she makes the possibilities endless… Here out on the long and winding road we can do almost anything, download pics, download video footage, create artwork and most importantly, ‘she’turns into the 21st Century DVD Cinema for those massive nightdrives.

…Ah, I see the Sharpening Club is ready for customers and so I must bid you farewell, for now at least… Thanks for listening… I’ll be back with more news and views from the long and winding road in a few days time….
Yours moose droolingly,

Miss Jules xxx