The Gathering 2020 – In Photos

The Gathering 2020 – To come home, you have to go away.

Here’s your chance to relive The Gathering through an comprehensive array of stills taken by our intrepid photography team of Andy Labrow, Stuart Ling, David Coombs and Bryn Cooledge. (All individual photo credits can be found in our photo gallery on here).

THE GATHERING 2020 – In Photos



Saturday – The Alarm

Mike Peters and The Alarm held their 28th annual Gathering at Venue Cymru, Llandudno this weekend and treated the capacity sell-out crowd to an emotional rollercoaster ride through all the rock and roll thrills and spills that only a great band can deliver.

Powered by a history of touring the globe non-stop since 1983, The Alarm is no ordinary band, and the Friday night event was something extraordinary indeed. A cryptic message on the band’s website had asked audience members to come dressed for the occasion and so they did. What they were then exposed to, was a ground-breaking piece of immersive rock theatre formed from a newly composed Mike Peters’ narrative entitled ‘Stream {Hurricane of Change}’.

Based upon two classic Alarm albums – ‘Eye Of The Hurricane’ (1987), and ‘Change; (1989), the story was performed musically by The Alarm, and acted out ‘live’ within the surroundings of the audience members, by a ten-person cast, led by Denbigh born actor – Sean Jones (Blood Brothers / Macbeth), who took on the role of narrator throughout. Appearing at various locations within the performance space, Sean Jones was a commanding presence, creating a breathtaking and provocative role that ensured the audience members themselves felt part of the proceedings.

The music being performed by The Alarm was exemplary, and it was almost impossible to see this as a staged performance, as the action was happening all around the Venue Cymru Arena.

During Act One {Downstream}, a re-eneactment of The Rebecca Riots took place with activists running through the aisles in appropriate Welsh clothing as The Alarm performed a folk-rock style version of ‘Newtown Jericho’. Mike Peters gave an impassioned vocal performance from amongst the audience on ‘Rescue Me’, and created one of the most powerful moments of the weekend.

Painted brollies were passed out to the audience members during ‘Rain In the Summertime’ by local TV and Social Media personality Gareth ‘Gaz Top’ Jones (who hails from Holywell), before taking on the role of a Boxing Promoter and introducing a scene involving two appropriately robed fighters emerging into the spotlights and through the crowd under both the British and American Flags.

Act One closed with the Alarm’s classic ‘One Step Closer To Home’ which reunited Mike Peters with original Alarm guitarist, Dave Sharp.

After a 15 minute interval, Act Two got underway with Sean Jones’ monologue continuing the narrative, and documenting a return journey – Upstream.

There was a powerful political subtext and this was amplified during ‘How The Mighty Fall’, which involved a hilarious Punch and Judy style fight scene taking place on a raised platform above The Alarm’s performance space with Sean Jones taking on the role of John Bercow (former Speaker of the House of Commons), in a spoof Prime Minister’s question time session between Jeremy Corbyn (played by Gareth Jones), and Boris Johnson, who was hilariously caricatured by Gwyn Davies, the former children’s entertainer from Prestatyn.

As the band played on, three huge video screens displayed powerful song-related imagery (created by video artist Gary Overington), adding to the increasing intensity of the atmosphere. It looked and sounded phenomenal, and the power of The Alarm never wavered for a second. During ‘Sold Me Down The River’ a huge sing-along broke out and you could see that the audience were loving being part of the unfolding drama.

As the band weaved there way into a powerhouse version of ‘Scarlet’, a delegation of climate change activists dressed in red robes and eerie looking white face masks slowly walked into the auditorium and with Mike Peters’ powerful words ‘I dream in red of all the things that this world could be…. and is not” …  It made a powerful statement, giving all in attendance something to think about and digest as they watched and listened.

The set closed with a rousing version of ‘A New Day’ with all musicians and actors on, or near, the central performance area. At this point, the lyrics and the story-line all came full circle back to the beginning, but this time a beginning that offered a beautiful feeling of hope for the future, and the sense that we can all be the change we want to see in the world. It was one of the bravest, most extraordinary pieces of music theatre I have ever seen.

A theatrical style roll-call to ’Things Can Only Get Better’ seemed to capture the essence of the final pre-Brexit hour ,and Mike Peters then took us on an a solo acoustic journey through his vast songbook as fans held up request placards for rare gems like ‘Lie Of The Land’ and ‘What Kind Of Hell’. Mike Peters was happy to oblige as request after request was honoured and all with obvious love and affection. A powerful ‘Day The Raven’s Left The Tower’ took us to the 11th hour and the final seconds until Brexit.

The sight of Big Ben was relayed onto the screens and the massive clanging bells from 1 – 11 used up every decibel of volume the PA system had to offer. No one present on this occasion, will ever forget where they where, when Britain finally exited the European Union. Certainly not after the Monty Python classic ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ blasted into life, and lit up the sombre moment with a slice of classic and uniquely British humour. It was the perfect song for the occasion, with every one present taking up the lop-sided refrain.

On Saturday morning, you could still feel the excitement of the night before, it was in every discussion and mannerism of those in attendance at the 25th Annual Mastermind Quiz and trophy presentation that was overseen by Rhyl-born Richard ‘Mod’ Jones.

In order to celebrate The Alarm’s 40th Anniversary in 2021, an emotional Mike Peters unveiled his future plans to bring the Gathering 2021 back to it’s original beginnings in Rhyl Town Hall for two acoustic concerts at the Town Hall on May 21st / 22nd 2021, along with a private event on May 23rd at The Royal Victoria Hotel, Prestatyn. The ‘Vic’ (as it is affectionately known by locals) is sited at the beginning of the Offa’s Dyke trail and was the venue for the very first ever Alarm show on June 5th 1981.

Mike Peters then announced Love Hope Strength Foundation’s newest event – Offa’s Dyke Rocks (May 23rd – June 4th 2021), which will raise funds for priority cancer care projects.

By undertaking the 12 day – 177 mile hike along Offa’s Dyke to South Wales, Mike Peters said that he will be “quite literally linking The Alarm’s past to the present” by arriving into Cardiff on June 4th for the release of a new 40 track Alarm anthology album entitled ‘History Repeating’, followed the very next day by The Alarm’s official 40th Anniversary Celebration concert at St. David’s Hall, Cardiff on June 5th 2021 (exactly 40 years to the day that the Alarm was officially born).

At 9pm on Saturday evening, The Alarm hit the stage for an intense high voltage rock and roll show, beginning with ‘Blood Red Viral Black’ from their recent Number One UK Rock Album ‘Sigma’, and a whole host of modern classic and vintage standards like ‘The Stand’ and ‘Sixty Eight Guns’. A highlight was the ’45 RPM’ medley in the middle of ‘Spirit Of ’76’ which had the whole of Venue Cymru on it’s feet. Mike Peters was a whirlwind of energy all night long, prowling the stage and singing in various microphone positions, backed to the hilt by his band mates. Mike’s wife – Jules, played the keys to perfection, and created sounds that only enhanced the fact that The Alarm is a guitar band at heart. James Stevenson is an astounding musician who has developed a new multi-instrumentalist role for himself, that allows rotation from guitar to bass while taking up all manner of other instrument variations, including a double neck and bass pedals. Smiley has to be the best drummer Mike Peters has ever had along side him, a world class musician and performer, aptly named, as he never stops from the first beat to the last, and provides a rock solid platform for The Alarm troupe to do what they do best, which is make rock and roll music to die for!

The magic of the Gathering’s Love Hope and Strength continued long into the night and spilled out onto the Llandudno Bay as the morning sun shone over the seaside resort. The magnificent Batala drums of Bangor woke up the entire south shore and a throng of Mike Peters / Alarm / Love Hope Strength supporters took their annual Sunday morning fund-raising stroll by the seaside.

Mike Peters led the way to the end of the Victorian Pier where an impromptu acoustic festival broke out. Hands were clapped and feet were stomped and the pier was rocked by all. “Look to the future”, Mike Peters sang with a voice still going strong after 48 hours of perpetual use, and after a daunting weekend of change, restructure and renewal, everyone went home feeling a little bit more optimistic, a little bit more hopeful and a whole lot stronger.

The Gathering 2021 – Bring it on.

Review by Dave Jones. Photo by Andy Labrow.