Venue Cymru, Llandudno

The Gathering

The Alarm’s annual “Gathering” is this year celebrating its 25th year, having started in Rhyl Town Hall back in 1992. The event seems to get larger each year and this year it takes over the large hall of Venue Cymru situated on the beautiful sea front location in Llandudno. The event is put together by The Alarm’s frontman Mike Peters and his dedicated wife Jules Jones Peters, they are both currently undergoing treatment for cancer. This couple don’t let anything get in the way and their treatment seems a mere inconvenience to them and continue their hard-working rock n’ roll lifestyle as well as being dedicated parents to their two sons.

Friday Night
The opener for tonight’s show is no stranger to this audience, Dave Sharp the original guitarist with The Alarm strolls out onto the stage to a very heartfelt warm welcome from his army of fans. With his Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie styled tunes, Dave entertains with a set of mainly original tunes including opener “Lookin’ This World Over”, a cover of “Vigilante Man” and set closer the ever popular “One Step Closer to Home” which gets the audiences voices warmed up nicely.

The Gathering

The traditional format of the Gathering is usually an acoustic set on the Friday night, and full electric set on the Saturday night. This year being the 25th Anniversary things are a little different. It has been quite a while since either Mike Peters or The Alarm have released any new material and the fans have had to wait with various re-releases keeping their musical appetite happy. Tonight Mike has taken the very positive step of opening with a brand new tune “Brighter Than the Sun”, normally a risky action with most audiences; but the Gathering crowd are more than willingly take the privilege bestowed upon them. The bands line up is a little different tonight with James Stevenson on bass duties and Jules Jones Peters on keyboards, with a little nod back to Mike’s first solo band since splitting up the original line up of The Alarm called “The Poets Of Justice”.

The band tonight are sounding really quite different from previous outings with Mike on an effect laden acoustic guitar making a whole range of new and exciting sounds. The new songs continue to be rolled out with many of them getting their debut live appearances here tonight. The sound is undoubtedly The Alarm with many new twists and turns. The lyrics contain many personal references to struggles within the “Peters” family and take as you would expect a very positive uplifting attitude. The lyrics are delivered with a very passionate exuberance with Mike pulling his performances out from the very depths of his soul making you believe in every word sung.

The Alarm
The Alarm 1234

In one of the most emotional parts of the show Mike sings alone on the stage a new song called “Heroine” written about his beloved wife. The film cameras show on the screens each side of the stage Julesís reaction to this most personal song and the hushed crowd erupt with masses of positive support as the song comes to a close. The evening closes where the beginning meets the end with a song called “Two Rivers Meet” a tune that combines synthesisers with guitars as well as very memorable hook that was still furiously buzzing around our heads as we leave the venue. The band had undoubtedly saved the best tune until last, a truly remarkable song that by this performance will become a new live favourite. These new tunes are set to appear sometime this year as a collection called “Blood Red Viral Black”

Set List
The Alarm
Brighter Than the Sun
Knife Edge
Coming Backwards
High On The Hill
There Must Be A Way
Into the 21st Century
Peace Now
Howling Wind
Tears Me Apart
Rain in The Summertime
Love and Understanding
Unsafe Building
Two Rivers Meet

Dave Sharp
Lookin’ This World Over
Downtown America
Ain’t got no home
Big Slate Man
Cliffs of Duneen
Hard Travelling
One Step Closer

Saturday Night
The afternoon is full of Alarm rated activities which include an ‘Alarm’ mastermind (only for anoraks) as well a one-hour question and answer session with Mike Peters hosted by long-time friend Gareth “Gaz Top” Jones (Remember him from children TV programmes including “Get Fresh” & “How”). The main hall begins to fill quite early as people jostle for the best spots and there is good reason to get in early as Mike’s son Dylan’s pre-teen band “OCD” are opening tonightís event. The for piece show just how ridiculously talented they are for their age belting out some well-delivered covers including a fantastic version of The Cult’s “She Sanctuary”.

Asking Ian McNabb to support The Alarm was a stroke of genius, many of people here are already fans and are old enough to remember the original Icicle Works. Ian arrives of stage with his long-term sidekick Roy Corkhill on bass and kicks off with the classic “Hollow Horse” with a brilliant opening lyric “Be Careful what you dream of it may come up and surprise you”. The vast majority of the crowd are loving every second and the rest of the uneducated are being pulled in by Ian’s wonderful scouse charm. The songs played are mainly from the “Icicle Works” era including “Little Girl Lost”, “Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)” and a rousing version of “When it All Comes Down”. Ian then cranks up the volume and plugs in electric guitar for a stunning version “Little Princess ìshowing his considerable skills with 6 strings. The set ends with a cover of “I Donít want to talk about it” which gets the crowd willingly singing along, Ian and Roy leave the stage with plenty of love from the North Wales crowd.

Ian Mcnabb
Ian mcnabb 1

The countdown clocks countdown to zero, it’s time for the headliners to take to the stage and the five guys arrive to a massive welcome from this excited sold out crowd. Launching straight into “Absolute Reality” the words “You may be Rich you may be poor, you may have nothing in this world at all” boom around this large arena with seemingly everyone singing them along with the band in a perfect unison. Tonight the ever popular Craig Adams (The Mission/Sisters of Mercy/The Cult/Spear of Destiny) returns on bass and Mark Taylor (Simple Minds takes over from Jules on Keyboards. The band power through a set-list that has been carefully put together with much thought put into each song played.

There are of course all the classics along with a sprinkling of less known songs like “Down the Road” and “A Breed Apart”. Part way through the show Mike leaves the stage to play a few songs in the middle of the arena on a small b-stage. While wearing a red sparkly jacket possibly borrowed from a 70’s game show host, Mike treats us to a brand new song called “Cenotaph” which features the poignant line “and if you want peace prepare for war”. One of the highlights of the evening is “Where were you hiding when the Storm Broke” where virtually everyone in the place as Mike sang the lyrics “All cards are marked and all fates will collide” throws a pack of playing cards in the air and the effect as they cascade down over the audience and the band is stunning.

The encore is made up of the customary “68 Guns” along with a really powerful version of “Rescue Me” and just when you thought that was it. The band return to the stage along with “OCD”, Jules and the legend that is Ian McNabb for a thrilling version of “Rockin’ in the Free World” where Ian excels with some stunning Neil Young’esque guitar work that brings things to an explosive end.

The Gathering

The weekend for some did not end there on the Sunday morning, we are given a talk from Mike all about the future charity fundraising events for the cancer charity “Love Hope Strength” ( and a bracing walk along the Llandudno seafront with a few hundred fans. Our effects are rewarded with an acoustic version of “Love Hope Strength” at the end of the pier with a few hundred voices and seagull accompaniment. This ended a fantastic weekend full of many highlights that makes it such a special weekend to the many who make the trip here from all around the world each year. Tickets for Gathering 26 have recently gone on sale and with the broadcast on the BBC’s coverage of this year’s event on our screens very soon, it is sure once again to be a sell-out.

The Alarm
The Alarm 123

Set List
Absolute Reality
Kill Kill Kill
It’s Alright/It’s OK
Down The Road
Coming Home
Breed Apart
Right Back Where I Started From
In The Poppy Fields
The Stand
The Deceiver
One Guitar
Without A Fight
The Drunk and Disorderly
Sold Me Down The River
My Town
Spirit of 76
Spirit of 76 (Reprise)
Blaze of Glory
Marching On
Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke?
Sixty Eight Guns
Rescue Me
Keep On Rockin’ In the Freeworld

Ian Mcnabb
Hollow Horse
Love is a Wonderful Colour
Little Girl Lost
Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)
When it all Comes Down
Little Princess
Understanding Jane
I Don’t Want To Talk About It



Words, Pictures & Videos by Dave Chinery (Chinners)

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to MySpace