THE ALARM with guest: DAVE SHARP at CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 13 April 2022
The 40th Anniversary tour brought top outfit The Alarm and Dave Sharp to Brighton. The Alarm rocked it up loud and proud. Stunning night of music from all the musicians. Gig Of The Year so far!
The Alarm are a Welsh rock band that formed in Rhyl, Wales, in 1981. Initially formed as a punk band, The Toilets, in 1977, under lead vocalist Mike Peters, the band soon embraced arena rock and included marked influences from Welsh language and culture. By opening for acts such as U2 and Bob Dylan, they became a popular new wave pop band of the 1980s.
The Alarm’s highest charting single in Britain was 1983’s “Sixty Eight Guns”, which reached number 17 in the UK Singles Chart. Their 1984 album, Declaration, which contained “Sixty Eight Guns”, peaked at number six in the UK Albums Chart.
The Band: Mike Peters on guitars, vocals and lots of running, Jules Peters on keys and percussion, James Stevenson on guitars with drummer Steve “Smiley” Barnard.
Mike Peters on guitars, vocals and lots of running around
Jules Peters on keys and percussion
James Stevenson on guitars
Steve “Smiley” Barnard on the drums
The Alarm took to the stage and set upon us for nearly two hours! Mike Peters, just didn’t stand still for a moment, grabbed his guitar and his strong wide ranging vocals immediately got everyone’s attention. Wearing a bright red jacket and his tousled hair, the singer was, from the get go, both full of passion and energy. No messing about from The Alarm as they quickly set about in getting the busy Concorde 2 crowd moving along as we all jumped around to the sublime and powerful beat.
The Alarm weighed in after an intro with two tracks, this lit the fuse and proceeded to set the venue alight with Absolute Reality and the brilliant 45 rpm. Two songs in and the atmosphere in the venue had been cranked up to full on electric. I suspect that this was going to be a unique and special night.
It has been no easy ride for Mr & Mrs Peters, and made the evening special for them and us I guess. I remember watching a documentary on the BBC showing how the two of them dealt with cancer. So good to see them both on a stage in Brighton.
The Alarm fan base present tonight appeared to be more of a family than that of just a crowd. The wide age range of concertgoers shows just how strong that bond has been between the band and their fans, and it and still remains. During lockdown in 2020, The Alarm broadcast their own weekly music and chat show ‘The Big Night In’, attracting over 500,000 viewers across the internet.
I have to say, the lighting tonight was extraordinary and Concorde2 could pick up some tips. Some great down lighting from the front and a reduced chugging from the smoke machines meant we could see everything clearly. The smoke and white lights were used to great effect. The sound mix was also spot on!
Click on Image to enlarge
The smoke machine was working away as Mike dashed between 4 microphone stands. Was it to utilise different settings or just to give everyone a great view? His vocals are laced at times with some reverb sending echoes swirling around Concorde 2. A few songs in and Mike Peters sings every song as if it will be his last with an energy of a man half his age. Incredible!
The Alarm no longer has the original line up that built the band and then reaching the charts a while ago now. Can it really be 40 years? Tonight it was proved that the band just kind of “belongs” to Mike. His wife, Jules Peters now plays the keyboards and percussion. The band has a truly great solid guitarist in James Stevenson. You may recognise James from previous bands such as Chelsea, Generation X, Hot Club, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Cult. I had bumped into James previously at a Chelsea gig.
The Alarm used every second to pace and plan the songs in the set, taking few breaks to chat with or work up the crowd. The band just didn’t let up. And of course credit to the Brighton crowd/choir, it seemed to me that they seemed to know every word of every song. The newer and older material was greeted the same.
The Alarm had seemingly ripped up the gig rule sheet tonight as they played some 31 songs and wedged them into 120 minutes of pure adrenalin filled, full on, 100% genuine Rock and Roll. I am not going to reveal the full set list as the tour is still ongoing and I do not want to let out any spoilers. It really was an impressive set list!
The band left the stage at one point leaving Mike on his own in the spotlight to perform a couple of slower acoustic numbers. A delightful few minutes and gave our ears a chance to recover! Mike did a super job on those songs. And from him, and the crowd, you could almost feel it, a glow of warmth, love and an air of positivity. Such is the presence of this man.
The band returned and just hammered their way through the track list, and it looked like they were not going to stop for anyone until it was all finished!
Mike Peters has personally created a brand new commemorative 40th Anniversary Red Poppy T-Shirt that is made up of the 400+ song titles and significant lyrics that have evolved during his time as The Alarm’s songwriter and lyricist. A large version was behind the drum kit in Brighton, as seen behind Mr Barnard. Fans as they entered Concorde 2 were invited to “sign in” on an officially commissioned giant Red Poppy Alarm Flag. I forgot to do that!!
Without doubt, the songs of the night for me was a superb rendition of the 1984 hit and mix of 68 Guns with Spirit of 76. This has to be everything that The Alarm are best at doing, performing live. I don’t think many bands can reach out to a crowd like Mike and his band managed to do tonight. Some of us were old enough to remember these tunes the first time around. We simply went for it with hands raised along with our voices. If you didn’t know the songs, it really didn’t seem to matter. Everyone in the crowd went for it big time.
68 Guns, the song was inspired by a book read by Mike about Glasgow street gangs, in the year 1968. “I always thought that was an important year for young people, it was the first time they really said ‘no.’” Other songs such as Rain In The Summertime, In The Poppyfields, My Town and For Freedom were packed into the set.
Peters really can pull on the heartstrings, it was during his moving acoustic ballad Poppy Fields, and later reprised in the set that provides the most intimate of moments. The end of the set was approaching and the lights were dipped to Blue and Yellow as Peters asked everyone to raise their phones for a moment to reflect upon Ukraine. Mixing in a searing inclusion of the U2 song “40” for the crowd to join in with “How Long”.
The band left the stage and returned for a segue of Breathe/Psalm and finishing with Warriors.
The guys really did get a huge Brighton ovation when it was all over. They really worked damn hard tonight, but every member of the Alarm seemed to have had a great time with us. It was a privilege to have shared this time with the band and crowd.
This gig will go down as “One to remember”. It was an absolutely brilliant outstanding performance by the band. A joy to be there. And takes over the GIG OF THE YEAR SO FAR spot for Scene Sussex.
Once again a band from the 80’s have proved that they can do it. Amazing new music, some great old tunes and Mike Peters leads this version of The Alarm with passion and an evident love of his music.
“Music will keep us strong.”
The Alarm frontman and Love Hope Strength co-founder Mike Peters was awarded an MBE in 2019. Mike was awarded an MBE for services to charity having raised thousands for cancer care projects in the UK.
The Love Hope Strength charity are on the WWW here.
The Alarm can be found here: https://thealarm.com/
Dave Sharp is an English guitarist who co-founded, along with Mike Peters, the Welsh band The Alarm. Dave Sharp began playing with the band Seventeen in the 1970s; he made his recording debut on their “Don’t Let Go” / “Bank Holiday Weekend” single. After Seventeen disbanded in 1980, the band reformed as The Alarm, eventually recording hit records such as “68 Guns” and “The Spirit of ’76”.
He held the audience attention from the very first note he played. He gave us a selection of well-written, well-played and well-sung songs. Perfect!
Dave took to the stage to a huge cheer. Dressed in a black leather jacket and a wide brimmed hat he picked up his guitar and plugged it in. The set was full of delight. I feel that there was a touch Dylan styled rockabilly in there at times. The Dylan influence, perhaps cultivated during the 1988 American tour on which the Alarm supported him. Mr Sharp was exactly that, sharp. Some fine guitar fret work, some real gutsy harmonica work all wrapped in his smooth vocal work and chat about his past.
Tonight’s set was made up of 9 fabulously huge tracks, Big Road, Villain, America, Travlin, Mystify, One Step, God Save, Tell and So Long. His songs are at times raw, always honest, and packed with the blues. Add the harmonica into the mix it was a great display.
Sharp performed to the Brighton crowd showing his credentials as a singer/songwriter. He said how good it was to be in Brighton and that it was great to be part of the 40th Anniversary tour. He has a wonderful insight with a sharp eye for detail and the ability to convey those observations in song. Moreover, oh my goodness can he play and pick that guitar as he peers out from under his black hat.
Dave provided us with songs and stories from his career. He made mention of the gig in Brixton that took place back in 1991, the final show of the Raw tour and what was to become The Alarm’s final show ever.
He has performed with musicians such as Kris Kristofferson, Bill Munroe and others. Tonight it is a short solo slot with guitar in hand, and harmonica hanging from his neck. Dave Sharp delivers a certain unique spirit to the music he has written and performed tonight.
Founder member of the Alarm, his music has been described as everything from folk and blues to rock, country and punk. I think that description ticks all the boxes witnessed tonight.
A beautiful, but short set. I and a few hundred other gig goers would have loved a bit more! The final leg of this tour is underway and thanks for making Brighton rock.
Dave Sharp can be found on the web http://www.davesharp.org/
Huge thanks to both The Alarm and Dave Sharp for an unforgettable night. Both performances were stunning. Hope the pix are ok.
Thanks to Concorde 2
Thanks to Live Nation.
Thanks to Brighton and Hove News Music team.
Words and photos by Ian Bourn
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