By: Kevin Rolfe
As we get older and we grow up, we many times attend concerts of our favorite bands to remember the “Good Ol’ Days”. And many times nostalgia fills us and we go back to that time when we were younger when we saw a particular band for the first time. There are times when we’ll go to a show for that nostalgia trip and unfortunately a band has passed their peak and we’re sadly reminded that we’re all older and that the band we’re seeing probably needs to call it a day. Then there’s The Alarm. Sometimes I wonder what it was like seeing The Alarm back in the 80s or 90s. (My first time seeing them was last year.) Could it have possibly been better than what I saw on August 8, 2019, at The Complex? There’s just no way. I think through the circumstances of Mike Peter’s life he has breathed new life in The Alarm, especially in their live shows.
It’s been well documented that Mike Peters is a three-time cancer survivor. His wife Jules has also recently gone into recovery from breast cancer. I think getting a second chance at life will make you live every day to its fullest. Now try to imagine what getting a third or a fourth chance at life will do. Or better yet, go watch the Peters perform at an Alarm concert and you’ll get a really good idea. His appreciation for life is evident in every song. As I mentioned to Mike in my recent interview with him, these challenges in life have given him the opportunity to write some really great songs. The songs from The Alarm’s recent releases Equals and Sigma fit right in with the classics and even enhance the show.
Following a high energy and really entertaining performance from Jay Ashton’s Gene Loves Jezebel, the MC for the evening Gareth Jones (No not that Gareth Jones. But a really nice guy. I had a chance to talk to him and he was a delight.) took to the microphone to introduce The Alarm. Jones mentioned that the new album Sigma was number 1 on the alternative charts. As he was doing his intro the band unassumingly took the stage. The crowd was already fired up from Gene Loves Jezebel and they were ready to dive in headfirst to The Alarm’s set. The band opened with “Blood Red Viral Black” the opening song from Sigma. It was clear that the audience knew the new album because they were moving to the music and singing the words.
Peters yelled out to the crowd “It’s great to be alive in 2019!”. That statement carries so much meaning coming from him. He shared with us that when The Alarm was here last year, Jules was wearing a wig because she had just been recovering from her breast cancer. He was happy to announce that she was still doing well and regaining her strength. The crowd applauded her bravery and good health. It was the type of moment you, unfortunately, don’t get to experience much these days. There is so much negativity all over the place. It was refreshing to see someone like Mike Peters. He has such a positive attitude and he looks like he’s loving and cherishing every minute on that stage.
Speaking of stages, at one point in the show, Peters chose the center of the general admission floor to be his stage. The excitement and joy on the faces of the crowd were worth the price of admission. He hugged, high fived, and sung with everyone around him. No one got too crazy. They all just danced around and with him. At this point in the show, I was standing in the back next to the soundboard. Everyone near Mike Peters looked like they were having so much fun that I was tempted to join them. The atmosphere inside The Grand room of The Complex was amazing. Everything felt so positive and free.
One of my favorite things I saw at this concert was seeing just how much the band’s crew enjoyed themselves. Sound, lighting and roadie crews aren’t always hired to work bands they like. It’s a job. But this crew was singing and dancing to just about every song. They were smiling when they’d bring Mike a different guitar and all the while they were doing an excellent job. I’ve seen crews enjoying their jobs, but not like this. These guys looked like they big fans of The Alarm that won a contest to be the crew.
Mike Peters told the audience how much he loved coming to Utah because we made the band feel at home whenever they stopped here. He then said, “You even brought us some rain!”. If you recall, on August 8 there was a crazy rainstorm. And I’m sure you guessed it, The Alarm started playing crowd favorite “Rain in the Summertime”. As Peters had done all night, he moved across the stage to the three different microphones spread across the front of the stage so he could freely move about. Just as it seemed the song was coming to an end The Alarm began singing the line “I got soul but I’m not a soldier” from The Killers’ anthem “All These Things That I’ve Done.” As the crowd sang along Peters dedicated the song to The Killers frontman, Brandon Flowers who sang “Rain in the Summertime” at their pre-Glastonbury concert at Cardiff Castle with Peters in attendance. There was talk that Flowers might be in attendance at this show. If he was there he was nowhere in sight. Peters then told us, “It wasn’t raining when he sang this in Wales. But it’s raining tonight! Sing it with me!” as he brought back the chorus to “Rain in the Summertime”. The ovation following this song was deafening! With the crowd still cheering Peters asked the audience “Are you happy?! Because everything is beautiful tonight!”. He was right.
I took this picture from the back of the venue because as I was looking at this crowd and how invested they were in the show I thought, ‘I can’t tell how old this audience is.’ If I didn’t know I was seeing a band who rose to fame in the 80s and I was asked to guess the age of this crowd just by looking at them from the back I would have guessed that this audience was in their twenties. That’s how much they were moving and how loud they were singing. If they thought it was possible they would have sung loud enough to blow the roof off. It all stems from Mike Peters and what he’s doing on stage. He sounded great. I don’t know how he still sings that well. Especially when he’s performing consecutive nights so often on this tour. And while the stage might not be the size of USANA Amphitheater’s stage, he’s never not moving. There was an energy that I can only describe as youthful flowing through the venue.
Before “Spirit of ‘76” Mike Peters yelled out “I want them to hear you down in Provo!” And I wouldn’t be surprised if Provo heard us. Because the volume didn’t let up all the way through “68 Guns”. The Alarm left and returned to sing “Blaze of Glory”, which would have been an excellent closer. But The Alarm played “Two Rivers” as their final song. They blended the version from Sigma with the version that opens up Equals. This was the perfect song to end the night. It was meaningful and bonded this audience even more than they already were. It reminded me of when U2 used to leave the stage after singing “40”. The U2 audience would continue singing “How long to sing this song?” The Alarm audience kept singing “Whoa, whoa oh whoa whoa” as The Alarm vanished from sight and the house lights came up.
I’m not sure what The Alarm was like in the 80s or even the 90s. I have no doubt that they were amazing. But in 2019 there is no way they aren’t that much more amazing. With a catalog of classic anthems to go along with some really great new songs and a few new leases on life, the purposefulness that the band performs with is not like anything I’ve seen recently in another band from their era. So don’t be disappointed that you didn’t see The Alarm back in the day. Be eager to see them as soon as you possibly can. Because you’re guaranteed a beautiful and inspired evening of great music.