My Alarm Story – Paul Martin

My Alarm story began in 1983.

I was 15 years of age and heard this amazing song being played on Radio 1 in the UK.

A couple of weeks later I got to see my first glimpse of the passion and energy that is The Alarm. They were on national TV on BBC1’s Top of the Pops programme. They were the coolest thing I had ever seen.

Using money from my paper round, I went straight out and bought the single 68 Guns. Since that day, I have pretty much bought every single record (vinyl/cassette tape/CD), Video & DVD’s that were released by The Alarm. From US and Japenese imports to limited edition blue and red vinyls, gatefold sleeves & 5 track EP’s, I bought it all. I spent all my money on everything connected with The Alarm. I even bought a copy of the original Unsafe Building single via the Record Collector magazine for fifty pounds! (which was a lot of money back then). I used to cut out articles from all the music rags like Sounds, NME and Melody Maker. I recorded footage from TV from shows like ‘Live and Kicking’ and ‘No. 73’ using a good old fashioned VHS video recorder. My bedroom wall was covered in pictures of the band, posters and articles from every conceiveable source. I dyed and spiked my hair and bought a pair of black leather boots from Carnaby Street in London. Hey, I even bought a pair of leather trousers! The Alarm were my life back then.
In 1984, my best mate Glenn (also massively into The Alarm), another friend Paul (who was being coerced into the music), plus myself, concocted a story that we were having a ‘sleepover’ at each others houses. We were 16 years of age when we jumped on a train to London and headed for the the big city and the famous Hammersmith Palais. The date was the 23rd December 1984. The concert blew us all away and laid the foundations for years of future concerts. It was simply amazing. It went on very late and we missed the last train home. Three young boys spent the night sleeping rough at Richmond Train Station with the tramps but it was worth it.

Since that day I have followed The Alarm the length of bredth of the UK. Glenn and I were lucky enough to get seats on the coach for the fan club trip to Scotland stopping off in Chester and Birmingham as well. I have even seen The Alarm perform at Wembley Stadium (supporting Queen and Status Quo) in 1986. I remeber that day so vividly. It started in the afternoon with a young band from Australia. Bottles rained onto the stage. The crowd were going mad for some reason. The lead singer stating that if people continued to throw bottles onto the stage, they would leave. A wave of bottles crashed into the stage but the band stayed and played out their set. This was the first time (but not the last time) that I saw a young Michael Hutchence (RIP) and his band INXS. Next, The Alarm came on stage. The crowd was getting bigger. Mike was in a white tassled jacket with a red shirt underneath if memory serves me right. Hearing the band play Spirt of 76 to a Wembley Stadium crowd was simply amazing and a massive highlight for me that day. They were on the verge of becoming a massive stadium band. It brings goose bumps to my skin even now (some 27 years later) just recalling that memory.

Moving forward a number of years and onto the saddest day of my life (at that time). It was Brixton Academy in June 1991. It was ‘The Raw’ tour. I didnt understand what Mike was saying when he said ‘this is my last moment in time with The Alarm’. After Blaze of Glory faded out and the band left the stage, Glenn and I turned to each other were like ‘have the band split up?’, ‘what’s happening?’. Some people were crying. We were both a bit numb with shock. I didnt understand what was happening. It was only later that I learnt that Mike had officially left the band. I was gutted beyond belief. How could that happen? How could the best band in the world split up? It didnt make sense and it still pains me to this day that it actually happened.

However, life does move on. We cant live in the past. We can remember it though and remember all the good things and learn from all the bad things. Moving forward to the present day, I have attended many gatherings since 1991 and I’ve even followed The Alarm across America seeing them play in New York, Boston, Chicago, Hollywood and Malibu (the last 2 gigs were on the same night!). The gig at Malibu was simply quite unreal. The very kind Steve Grantley had put Glenn and I onto the guest list for the show at Mailbu. I’d never been on a ‘guest list’ before and I felt so proud as I walked into the venue. The gig was simply amazing. It was a fairly small venue and it was past midnight. Mike had so much energy and passion despite the previous gig in Hollywood whereas I think James, Steve & Craig just wanted to go to bed (and I dont blame them – the gigs are so full on/high tempo). Seeing the boys laying on the floor playing their instruments at the end of the night (actually small hours of the morning), was simply amazing. A beautiful memory inspired by a band who were such a huge part of my life for so long.

As for now and onto 2012, I am fortunate enough to live in Australia. There are three things I miss living on the other side of world. They are 1) my friends & family, 2) The Alarm and 3) Chelsea FC. Given the distance between the UK and Australia and the rising travel costs, I think my days of following the Alarm around are pretty much done. However, that won’t stop me being a fan. It wont stop me following them via the web. It won’t stop me buying the new music. To me, The Alarm will never die. They were a huge inspiration in my life. Mike Peters is a truly remarkable person for so many reasons. Having met the man on many occassions, he doesn’t disappoint. He is a legend, just like The Alarm.