Friday, September 17, 2010

The Alarm, Showcase Live, Foxboro MA, September 16, 2010

The Alarm
Showcase Live, Foxboro, MA
Thursday September 16, 2010

As I stood outside of Showcase Live in Foxboro Massachusetts talking with an old friend a younger woman approached us. "Who played here tonight" she asked, "The Alarm" we both said in unison. She paused and said "Are they local?" It is okay, such is life for the Wales based band that has been playing second fiddle to U2 for the better of 25 years now. That doesn't sway the nearly sold out club from raising fists, jumping up and down and singing along like it was 1986 all over again.

Touring to support their April 2010 release "Direct Action" the band would dip in to cuts, but would focus the bulk of their energy on their early hits. Gone are "Twist", Eddie MacDonald and Dave Sharp, but the voice of Mike Peters carries it on. Walking to the stage in a dark shirt and pants yet still a youthful color to his hair and a smile that went ear to ear. He strapped on the acoustic guitar, said his hellos and the band launched in to "Declaration/Marching On" the two lead off tracks from their 1984 album "Declaration".

Peters worked the audience well and guitarist James Stevenson stuck some rock star poses, but this was mostly a Peters affair. Changing between acoustic and electric guitars Peters sang with such urgency was knocking in to the microphone stand. The band dipped in to some newer tracks but were careful in their selection as they knew the audience wanted to be whisked back in time.

Tracks like "Where were you hiding when the Storm Broke", "Strength" and "Rain in the Summertime" (in which at the conclusion Peters filled his mouth with water and spat it high above the audience) sounded terrific. Peters still has the range in his voice, but worked with the audience for hand claps, and sing alongs. Peters told a great story about how the New England area is one of the places the band got their early success in the US. He told a story about their first time playing in Massachusetts was opening for U2 at the Worcester Centrum. He continued that the band had done considerably well with their 30 minute time slot and when they left the stage the audience was chanting their name, calling for an encore. The band was not sure what to do and they were told to not break the union contracts as it would cost about $5,000 to do so. U2 manager Paul McGuinness walks over, sticks his hand in his pocket and paid the $5,000 out of pocket for us to here is a song we'd like to dedicate to U2 and we always think...this is the song they payed $5,000 to hear...this is "We are the Light".

The only other time Mike took a long time to chat was with regard to the foundation he works with/for "Love, Hope, Strength" an organization that works to find bone marrow donators. Mike has battled cancer twice and was like a proud papa telling how they have had 45 people so far appear as matches for people all over the world. Find out about it here.

"68 guns" was a blistering take and was about all us soccer moms and dads could do to hold ourselves back. Sure we had to shuffle back in to our mini vans and wagons post show, but we all felt like those "rebels" we once were.

The encore began with a wonderful version of "Walk Forever By My Side", a track that should be played at most weddings, but doesn't even seem to be widely known. As a fan of "alternative" music in my later high school years I kept thinking I'd have done anything to be close to this band and there I was, 1 row deep away as the band was playing songs that felt like I had hand picked. The night was perfect in many ways and when Peters came to the edge of the stage and started the opening of "Spirit of 76" I had one of those concert moments...its so very very rare...but it happened. I was whisked back 20 years and I felt 20 years younger, my palms got clammy, my knees and legs started to ease up under me....the band had me floating. There was nowhere else I wanted to be and as my voice grew even more hoarse with each passing line I could hardly get the words out through the huge smile.

Lights came up, and fans chatted quick with one another, most talking about the next persons vintage Alarm concert t-shirt. For just a little while everyone hit rewind on the way back machine and nobody was ready to go face their "absolute reality".

Full Set List:
Marching On
Direct Action
Where Were you Hiding when the Storm Broke?
Release The Pressure
Absolute Reality
Drunk & Disorderly
Blaze of Glory
Rain in the Summertime
We are the Light
Unsafe Building
One Guitar
Rescue Me
45 rpm
68 Guns
Walk Forever by My Side
Spirit of 76'

Here are some shots I took from the show. Kudos to Showcase Live for being cool with pictures, and overall VERY positive experience..I hope to be back.

The Alarm page is here.



At Saturday, September 25, 2010 6:55:00 PM , Anonymous Lyn Nelson said...

Great review, Todd! The Foxboro show had really great least from where I was standing! Looks like you were snapping your pix from just left of us...almost forgot that story about OVERTIME at the U2 show in Worcester. Looks like U2 haven't outgrown the habit either...late last summer, about this time, when they played FOXBORO they went on 15 minutes late (while shmoozing Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in the Green Room)...and went 15 minutes over their curfew. I think they paid alot more than $5K this time, tho! But I love all the tour details Mike shares with us about those golden days ON THE ROAD! He has an amazing memory for that kind of thing.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2012 3:49:00 PM , Blogger bekikerkman said...

Just found this link while doing some research at the Love Hope Strength office here in Denver and took a break to read. I felt like I was there. Great review of a great band. You really ought to get to the Gathering in'd love it!

At Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:16:00 AM , Blogger Jeremy said...

Nice review. I like this band, too, and I'm actually in Wales. Hope to see them someday!


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