The Alarm Live in the Poppyfields
(DVD/CD Dual Release/Snapper Music)
By Steve Rudd
In all honesty, I am totally addicted to - and utterly enthralled by - the music of Mike Peters.
Mike, for those who might not know, is now - and has always been - the frontman and
singing-songwriting genius for Welsh band The Alarm... a band set-up
that Mike recently re-formed, with a number of new band members along for the ride.
When Mike isn't writing new material for The Alarm and touring with them
(not only in the UK to an extensive degree, but also around Europe and across in the States),
he can often be found playing in the Dead Men Walking supergroup alongside legendary
rock luminaries such as Kirk Brandon and Glen Matlock.
And he when he isn't doing that he's usually writing and touring any solo material
that he's had time to pen.
Quite simply, he never stops working - despite the fact that his wife has recently had a baby.
Mike, then, would quite be forgiven for wanting to spend more time at home. Still, if
Mike were my father I wouldn't complain about him being away from home too much.
Not when Mike is as cool, as modest and as genuinely talented as he is...
This fabulous live release comes hot-on-the-heels of the new Alarm album entitled In The Poppyfields
that was released earlier this year. Such an album was fleetingly surrounded by quirky media interest
when it emerged that the 45 RPM single release from the record was really by The Alarm
and not a band called The Wayriders as first thought; yes, Mike was convinced
that if The Alarm released 45 RPM as their song then it wouldn't chart,
but if the record-buying public believed the song was actually by a fresh young band
then it had more of a chance.
Thus, Mike pretty effectively proved that there is still a worryingly hardcore of people who
bemusingly allow a band's style rather than its associated substance to underpin any motives
that they might have to buy the band's music. Which is sad.
Furthermore, Mike Peters is - undoubtedly - one of the most under-rated singer-songwriters of his generation. Fact.
I remember the very first time I heard The Alarm's Greatest Hits CD, for I was instantly
inspired by the positive-thinking attitudes and boldly melodic music therein.
All Mike's songs are magnificently anthemic in their own touching way, and always optimistic
in nature even if the theme is relatively melancholic, such as in Spirit of '76 which
reflects on youth lost and middle-age unwittingly embraced.
The songs are just as brilliant as any of U2's, while Mike's truly brilliant and
extraordinarily emotive vocals could quite naturally be compared to Bono's.
And, as anybody who has ever been to an Alarm gig will surely testify, such tunes when
played live are whole-heartedly brought to life in a most exhilarating manner as the
crowd tends to euphorically sing every word of every song right back to Mike in real
time: in the right place at the right time.
So, if you are a fan of The Alarm already, this release is what you will have
been waiting years for! A live - albeit presented in black & white - DVD that's
packed with 23 tracks, and which is accompanied by a 16-track audio CD for more-than-good measure.
All of the songs on the CD are featured on the DVD, with every last note having been recorded
during one epic gig in the relatively intimate Le Scala venue in London on March 1st 2004.
Kicked off by new number Coming Home, as always there is a thrilling mixture of
punk-tinged rock 'n' roll numbers and more gloriously poignant ballads, with just a
few of the many highlights including the stormingly anthemic
Absolute Reality, new beauty The Rock And Roll, a soul-stirring and gorgeously
acoustic-based tribute to the late great Stuart Adamson courtesy of In A Big Country,
the unforgettable band calling card in Sixty Eight Guns and an exhilarating rendition
of the Rescue Me sing-a-long classic.
Bearing all of that in mind, what more could you possibly want? 5/5
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25 years down the punk-rock 'n' roll line and The Alarm - assembled around the ever-photogenic mainman Mike Peters - is still going strong.
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