Gathering 5 Review

On January 11th, at approximately 11:30 P.M. (UK time) One half of the 80’s band The Alarm returned to the stage for the first time in nearly 6 years. Bass player Eddie MacDonald joined lead Vocalist and guitarist Mike Peters on stage for stirring renditions of two the The Alarm’s best songs: “Spirit Of ’76” and “Rescue Me”.

Mike Peters left The Alarm in June 1991, citing creative differences within the band that were tearing it apart. He has since been extremely prolific as a solo artist, having released six solo albums: two full length efforts: 1994’s “Breathe” and 1996’s “Feel Free”, as well as version of “Breathe” sung entirely in Welsh named “Aer”, an album of all acoustic “Breathe” demos named “Breathe: The Accoustic Sessions”, an album of re-made Alarm b-sides named “Second Generation: Rare Songs Of The Alarm Revisited”, and most recently, a live album recorded in 1992 named “The Abbey Road Sessions”.

Mike Peters has been holding “The Gathering” for 5 years running now. Basically, it is a weekend dedicated to music of The Alarm and himself, held in Peters’ home town of Llandudno, Wales. The weekend includes a 2-hour accoustic show on Friday night, and a 3 hour electric show on Saturday night interspersed with films and videos documenting the rich history of The Alarm as a band, and Mike Peters as a solo artist.

Eddie MacDonald has been quitely living in England for the past six years working as a photographer and writing music. He and Peters, the best of friends since age 4, hadn’t patched up their differences over the break-up of The Alarm until late in 1996 when MacDonald showed up at Peters’ gig at The Royal Albert Hall, opening for the Scottish band Runrig. After mush coaxing, Peters convinced MacDonald to show up at “The Gathering V”, and for the first time since The Alarm’s last gig at the Brixton Academy in 1991, 50% of the band Alarm took part in a public performance.

The spirit of the night was incredible. Rumours abounded that Eddie Macdonald would be showing up, but only a select few knew that the ex-Alarm bassman would be taking the stage during the first encore. As soon as Mr. MacDonald was announced, the crowd went ballistic. The deafening chant of “Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! …” filled the venue. Even after another guest came out, Billy Duffy of “The Cult”, the crowd,still amazed that Eddie MacDonald had shown up, continued their chant as an ode to the missing Alarmist, who had finally re-emarged after so many years.

Even though Mike Peters and Eddie MacDonald are now on speaking terms, a full Alarm reunion is unlikely for the forseeable future. Alarm guitarist Dave Sharp released his second solo album in 1996 named “Downtown America”, and drummer Nigel Twist works in San Francisco, and is invloved with a band named “Fringe”. Although Twist and Sharp are still in communcation with MacDonald, the same cannot be said for the pair and Mike Peters. When Peters attempted to re-form The Alarm in 1995, the two balked at the idea, and there is no sign of that attitude changing at this time. Even so, the prospect of MacDonald and Peters writing songs together again is enough to make Alarm fans salivate. While Peters wrote 90% of The Alarm’s lyrics, Macdonald was responsible for a good portion of the music behind them. Now that Peters has grown into an incrdible song-writer as well, the pairing could produce some magnificent recordings. Mike Peters will be spending the first part of 1997 writing and recording a new album, and then he sets out on a world-tour that should include dates in the USA. Whether or not Eddie MacDonald will take any part in this activity remains to be seen.