Love, Hope, Strength: The Alarm In Concert

In spite of what you’ve been told about the “evils of rock and roll,” rock music has been making a positive impact on people’s lives for almost as long as the genre has existed. One such band that has been using rock music as a platform for positive change for a long time is Welsh originating act The Alarm, and despite what you may have thought, the veteran act is still going strong and still touching people’s lives.

The Alarm is currently on tour for their new release, Sigma. The ensemble consists of Mike Peters accompanied by his wife Jules on keys, James Stevens (from Gene Loves Jezebel fame) on guitar, bass, or whatever is needed at the moment, and Steve “Smiley” Barnard on drums. The tour also features Gene Loves Jezebel (yes, Stevens is pulling double duty) and Modern English. You’d have to go to an Irish festival to see more kilts! They hit Gas Monkey Bar and Grill in Dallas last Saturday, July 20.

The band came out with the Sigma single “Blood Red Viral Black,” making their stand (pun intended) loud and clear. Of course, they followed that by bringing the crowd back to 1983 as they went into “The Stand” from Declaration– our very first taste of The Alarm all those years ago.

But then the band came back to the 20-teens with “Peace Now” from their 2018 release, Equals. As much as the crowd loved the old Strength and Declaration songs, there was no shortage of love for the new songs. The crowd knew this song as well as they knew any of the older ones.

Speaking of the crowd, there is no doubt in my mind that many of them there that night were also at that 1983 show at the long-defunct Bronco Bowl the first time The Alarm came to town back in 1983, as Mike reminded us. It’s just that we all have kids who are now older than we were then. The good news is that they are grown and out of the house, so no need for babysitters to stay up late to see the rock show at Gas Monkey.

As happy as the crowd was to be there reliving their 20s, no one was happier than Mike. You’d have a hard time believing Mike’s age (according to Wikipedia) or that he’s a cancer survivor given the way he moved around on stage with more energy than a six-month-old lab. With three vocal mics positioned across the front of the stage, you’d expect three vocalists. But no: Mike was running between the three mics, sometimes mid-sentence as he caught his breath, so he could see all of the crowd all night long. Sure, with my 300mm of glass I could see some crow’s feet beside his eyes, and his jumps were less frequent and forceful than they were 35 years ago, but nothing could age the big smile that Mike wore all night long. Clearly, he was not just milking some old hits to squeeze blood out of the turnips of his faithful fans; he loved being on stage, and it really showed. The crowd knew it– and loved it.

After “Rescue Me” from Eye of the Hurricane, a song well known in Christian rock circles due to Geoff Moore’s cover, they went into another single from Sigma, “Brighter Than the Sun.” Then came the first of four songs from Strength, “Knife Edge.” Mike’s vocals were as strong as ever as he belted out this 1985 classic with the same youth and vigor we all remember.

“Sold Me Down the River” from Change featured each of his talented bandmates doing solos– just like the 80s! Mike then brought the crowd down with “Walk Forever By My Side” before declaring, “I’m not on anybody’s side but my own” as he went into the Equals rocker “Neutral.”

But the highlight of the night was clearly “Strength.” Mike introduced it by saying, “Love, hope, and strength are the only words I believe in,” a tie-in to his Love Hope Strength Foundation, an organization Mike founded after his own cancer recovery to offer real hope to people currently living with cancer.

Following the more “balled-esque” “Rain in the Summertime,” Mike closed the one-hour main set with “Beautiful” and “Spirit of ’76.”

But we know that’s not the end.

The band continued rocking with “68 Guns” and closed the show with the poignant “Two Rivers” from Equals.

From beginning to end, The Alarm did not disappoint. To catch them live, find a list of current tour dates at thealarm.com/upcoming-shows.

See the full concert gallery here.

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