After not being able to go to see The Alarm on their 40th Anniversary UK Tour apart from the recent Gathering weekend in Rhyl it was Bristol that got canceled after the band was caught in a police incident on the M4 on the way to the venue that led to a last-minute rearrangement and then the date was arranged for the final night of the tour on Easter Sunday – Hooray! a date I can go to never mind eating chocolate fire up the batmobile and all roads lead to Bristol.
On arrival at the O2 Mr sharp was already on stage running through his fine selection of warm honest folk songs with the odd Alarm classic thrown in for good measure. When the final knockings of the original lineup (many moons ago) were being played out Mr. Sharp released an exceptional album in the shape of ‘Hard Travellin’ (surely its time this classic got a release on wax Mr. Sharp? Pretty Please. He followed it up with 1996’s ‘Downtown America’ which also could do with a rerelease on vinyl, thanks. In a venue like the O2 a minstrel and his weapon of choice alone on the stage maybe needs a band to shift some gears rather than a balladeer set but that’s just my observation tonight. I do always enjoy hearing his raspy voice on these songs but maybe next time it’ll be electric with a band.
As for the Alarm 2022 it’s an altogether different beast to the older traditional setup with Peters patrolling the stage moving between three mics at the stage front flanked by Mrs. Peters on keys to one side and the very talented Mr. James Stevenson on guitar to the other flank. I do find his skills on the six-string a much better form on the songs of The Alarm both older and new rather than on previous tours when he switched between the bass and a bit of guitar. Also in the engine room, the ever-beaming Smiley hits the drums with vigour and purpose that really drives the songs.
It takes me a wee bit to get my head around the using of bass tracks rather than a bass player but to be fair it doesn’t take anything away from the music other than another body on stage I guess. It is what it is and we move on no doubt something for the faithful to debate because the Alarm family likes nothing more than a good old lineup debate.
As for tonight’s setlist, I must admit I’m a sucker for deep cuts setlists, having seen the band (cough cough) play well into three figures its fair to say I like the music old, new borrowed and blue. Tonight Bristol being the final night of the tour began with a sprightly ‘Protect And Survive’ it was Peter on a mission with little crowd interaction but a hell of a lot of music to throw our way. ‘Absolute Reality’ sounded fresh and then it was ’45 RPM’ to lift the energy levels one last time over the last twenty-plus dates before we got the first new song ‘Fail’ from the summer’s new records that is done and dusted. It was a bruising ‘Superchannel’ before we got ‘Wars’ Cover ‘Safe From Harm’ minus the Benji Webb vocal.
Peters found himself center stage for ‘Coming Home’ and a bluesy ‘Sold Me Down The River’. The band returns for a sort of medley of ‘In The Poppyfield’ that saw the band blitz through songs from all corners of the band’s catalogue from the ‘Stand’ through Everythings Beautiful via the much underrated ‘Shout To The Devil’, ‘For Freedom’ and ‘where Were You Hiding’ it was also peppered with Peters solo music in the shape of the rousing ‘Closer’ and a modern classic of ‘My Town’ it was a breathless and pulsating set with no time for messing about or end of tour dismantling equipment or goofing around it was crowd-pleasing singles ’68 Guns’, ‘Spirit of 76’, ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Blaze Of Glory’ before dropping back into ‘Poppyfield’ and the main set was brought to a sweaty close.
There was still time for a deserved encore of ‘Breathe’ and for the first time, Peters spoke offering up the song ‘Psalms’ for the people of Ukraine and an end to the Russian invasion which was heartfelt and touching. There was still time for one more track to wrap up the tour and this evening’s epic performance as new song ‘Frontline Warriors’ saw the curtain brought down on this leg of their 40th-anniversary tour but there is more to come for the good people of the UK when they see the return of the Gathering 2023 when there will be another addition to the Alarm catalogue oh and the much rearranged St Davids Hall show still to come.
What a Brucie bonus of an evening out with The Alarm, when can we do it again?
Author: Dom Daley