Another year another venture North for my annual trip for the Gathering as we head for Gathering Twenty Seven and this year’s festivities seem to coincide with the cold snap as the UK is besieged by snow as we struggle to trek North under the half an inch of snow that seems to have landed on high ground but we struggle on regardless as we maintain a=our fine record of attending every single one outside Rhyl town hall So that’ll be Twenty Five without fail. We’ve seen some amazing performances over the years culminating in last years mammoth Saturday Night and a set that had an hour-long encore! beat that Springsteen.
We enter the arena for Friday nights performances and as if by magic Dave Sharp is taking the stage for his solo performance. Now I’ll admit that Dave is a little like marmite and there are those who love him and his folky noodlings and those that aren’t fussed and as much as I love the guy and ‘Hard Travellin’ was and still is a fantastic piece of work and one of the best albums the Alarm or associated members ever made since then his work has left me cold and his performances of which I’ve seen many have been tepid. Its a tough gig even for Dave doing the Gathering as a lot of people just want to hear old Alarm songs and drink and as many people catch up on the Friday its not until Dave is Joined by Mike Peters that things get really interesting. There is a respect and a love that is evident considering what these brothers from different mothers went through but there is also a tension in the air and they seem to accept both and it helps create some magic when the guitars are turned up and the mics are switched on.
Tonight sees the pair begin with a fine rendition of ‘Bells Of Rhymney’ quickly followed by a fantastic ‘Gasoline Alley’ some great stories are told about their pre-recordings and the songs they used to play together when they started this journey and ending on ‘Get By With A Little Help From My Friends’ seemed to cement that respect for each other and what they have achieved.
We get a great ‘Shout At The Devil’ followed by ‘For Freedom’ and ‘Marching On’ and for me such a magical time in music comes flooding back with such classics getting played by James Stevenson, Smiley and Peters even if James seems to be having some technical difficulties the flow of the set isn’t broken and playing in the round is working a treat . As the Bass synth starts for ‘Howling wind’ my mind takes me back to some of those early shows and the feeling I had as a young man and that steady bass vibrated through the floor as sharpie played the riff on ‘Howling Wind’ I’m caught with my thoughts where have all those years gone its well over half my life ago and I’m brought back to more recent times after ’68 Guns’ because James and Smiley leave the stage for peters to wander down a wormhole of early solo songs as the excellent and underplayed ‘Poetic Justice’ gets a rare outing the same can be said for ‘It Just Don’t get any Better Than This’ and latter ‘Feel Free’ as far as Fridays go this one is shaping up rather nicely thanks.
James and Smiley return to the round for a blast through ‘Drunk And Disorderly’ and ‘We Are The Light’ and its a delight to hear ‘Superchannel’ and ‘Rocking In The Free World’ for the first time in a long time. With the clock ticking and beauty sleep needed for a long Saturday it only left Mr Sharp to return to the stage for a memorable slog through ‘Knocking On Heavens Door’. Friday was in the bag, done and dusted and as far as Fridays go that was easily the best for many a year possibly since Coloursound made their debut. Bring on Saturday.