So another record of new(ish) music from Mike Peters and his new version of the Alarm hits the shops this week with a little help from a few of the people in his very impressive address book.  The album is connected to last years album that came out in two parts.  Confused you will be.  If you think you’ve heard some of these before then you’d be right as they’ve been around for a while and avid Alarm disciples will have heard a lot of these over the last few years.

Life isn’t as simple as a band writing enough songs for a record. They can write and record quickly and release music almost straight away through the many available platforms that now exist.  The MPO has always (since the original Alarm ceased to exist post Brixton) been ahead of the curve as far as independent cottage industries go. A personal touch that was different and exciting and it certainly helped keep in touch with the fan base, that hardcore that was always loyal to team Peters.  Today the MPO is a different beast altogether they’ve certainly grown and become a well-oiled machine and through sheer hard work have grown the Alarm name and managed to keep it relevant in an ever-changing industry.

Influenced by his well documented off-field tribulations Peters is a force of nature and his pursuit of making music is enduring and endearing – his passion for his art is second to none and has evolved as a writer, kept a few musicians close and having such talented players like Smiley and James Stevenson by his side Peters is still able to pen some really impressive Rock and Roll (although I do think the sound lack that punch that Craig Adams always brought to proceedings live and on record).

I’m glad Peters still writes new material but have to admit to not always being keen on his latter work I do own every single release he’s ever put out so I always find it difficult to write a review for an Alarm record, a band I’ve seen in many guises (well into triple numbers over the years). Call me a fanboy (I’m not bothered but can a guy in his 50s be a fanboy?) I can also admit when I find some of his lyric wordy and a bit cliched whilst at other times I find his lyrics uplifting and beautiful –  warm and sincere. At the end of the day he’s human and it would be a little odd if I liked everything he ever wrote and he got it right every time.

Well, ‘Sigma’ kicks off in fine fashion with ‘Blood Red Viral Black’ which features fellow coloursound comrade Billy Duffy (of the Cult parish) The song is a good opener and certainly benefits from Duffy’s fretwork  (I wish he’d write more song in this vein) I loved Coloursound and it worked really well.

Always dogged by the poundshop U2 tag something that really used to bug me, but, as I’ve got older there are certainly elements of Peters songwriting where their paths do cross. maybe ‘Brighter Than The Sun’ would be one such tune. ‘Time’ is classic modern Alarm and uses the familiar bass line that he got a lot of success with on songs like ‘Rain In The SummerTime’.  ‘Psalms’ begins with a simple ‘Stand By Me’ guitar strum on the acoustic and builds gently.

‘Equals’ has a guest spot from original Alarm member Dave Sharp that will please some. Then ‘Love and Understanding’ which sound familiar like ‘Strength’ for the Jet Age.  Is self-plagiarism a thing?  I do like ‘Prisoners’ and first impressions are it’s a little different.

As far as love songs go ‘Heroine’ is Peters hitting paydirt with some of his better lyrics and the way the song builds is excellent and its a song I’ve always liked. It sounds sincere and is one of the records shining lights.

Before the album signs off with ‘Two Rivers’, ‘Armageddon In The Morning’ is a bit of a throwback to Peters and his Poets days its a seven-minute journey that builds well and the acoustic and harmonica works really well with smileys rhythm. Again Peters touches on moments throughout his history (intentional or not but you can deffo sing ‘Blaze Of Glory’ over parts) and this one works really well and makes for a great song as it passes quickly.

‘Two Rivers’ is stripped back to piano-driven reprise, fans who’ve seen the band live will be familiar with this set closer but not in this form an excellent way to sign off ‘Sigma’.

I’m not sure how many new fans will buy into ‘Sigma’ and being so familiar with a lot of the songs I find it hard to call as a whole new new record (if you know what I mean) I guess ‘Sigma’ is the final part of a several year journey for The Peters family and something they found themselves working through.

I still believe and still wish all the best for The Alarm and would love them to grab some headlines for their music and work their way into a larger audiences heart, they still have the talent and that unwavering belief in what they do and I fully support that they’re not some nostalgia trip – they’re not one of those has been bands who can’t let go.  They make new music and by and large deliver time after time after time.  Doing things their way against the odds in the face of adversity that would have sunk most mortals.

Buy ‘Sigma’ and start a voyage of discovery and don’t be put off by the size of the back catalogue because there is so much on offer that is right up there with the best of em.  Go the Alarm

Buy Sigma Here

Author: Dom Daley

Peters heads out on epic winter tour around the UK and back again.
Beginning on October 3rd 2019, The Alarm lead singer and songwriter Mike Peters, will present The Alarm – Hurricane of Change 30th Anniversary Acoustic Tour throughout the UK (see dates below), performing in many British towns that have never featured on previous tour itineraries!The tour will honour The Alarm’s late 1980’s trilogy of iconic album’s ‘Eye Of The Hurricane’, ‘Electric Folklore’ and ‘Change’, and will feature intimate acoustic arrangements of some of The Alarm’s most famous songs such as Rain In The Summertime (1987 – International Top 20 Hit), Sold Me Down The River (1989 – Number 1 Rock Song in the USA) and A New South Wales (1990 UK Top 40), alongside a host of Alarm standards as captured on the 1988 live album ‘Electric Folklore’ including ‘Spirit Of ’76’ and ‘Blaze Of Glory’.

“This tour presents a great opportunity to share The Alarm’s music in some new towns and many great new venues across the UK”, says Mike Peters. “The Alarm has always had a tremendous rapport with people from all over Britain, and this time I’ll be making the journey to some of those places whose people normally have to travel to hear our music. Along the way, I’m looking forward to playing in all kinds of auditoriums from theatres to churches, arts centers to music studios. I can’t wait.”
Tickets for the Hurricane Of Change Tour will go on sale this Friday, March 8th from 10 am UK Time.
03.10.19 ABERDARE Coliseum
04.10.19 FLEET The Harlington
05.10.19 COLCHESTER Arts Centre
11.10.19 HOLMFIRTH Picturedrome
12.10.19 SELBY Town Hall
19.10.19 CRICKHOWELL Clarence Hall
23.10.19 BROMSGROVE Artrix
24.10.19 SWINDON Arts Centre
25.10.19 KINGSKERSWELL Church
26.10.19 NEWBURY Arlington Arts
31.10.19 TRING The Court Theatre
01.11.19 NEWBRIDGE Memo
02.11.19 PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
03.11.19 SHREWSBURY Theatre Severn
08.11.19 DERBY The Venue
09.11.19 DARWEN Library Theatre
14.11.19 BURY The Met
15.11.19 GATESHEAD The Sage Theatre
19.11.19 LIVERPOOL Epstein Theatre
20.11.19 LEEDS Brudenell
21.11.19 EDINBURGH The Caves
22.11.19 ABERDEEN The Lemon Tree
23.11.19 PERTH Joan Knight Studio
29.11.19 STOWMARKET John Peel Centre

30 years ago, as Mike Peters undertook a creative song-writing journey through the heart of his home country – Wales and across the UK, the Berlin Wall would fall and Europe itself, would plunge into a period of enormous and seismic change. Caught in the middle of this political maelstrom, Mike Peters and the Alarm recorded the albums ‘Eye of The Hurricane’ (1987), Electric Folklore (1988), and ‘Change’ (1989), each of which would, in their own way, capture the essence of these most turbulent times.
The Hurricane of Change tour will be performed solo with a first set dedicated to ‘Eye Of The Hurricane’ followed by a second performance of songs from the ‘Change’ album then a third set featuring music from The Alarm’s classic live recording ‘Electric Folklore”.

“I have always seen these three albums as an Alarm trilogy”, says Mike Peters. “A lot happened to the band and the world, during the writing and recording sessions from 1987-1990. As one decade bled into another, the themes of response and resolve to contend with uncertain times are running through the core of each and every album. Played together these songs tell their own story, and with the tumultuous times Europe and the World can expect to face in the coming months and years, are still as relevant today as when they were first written.”

Tickets details from thealarm.com

 

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.