‘The Gathering’ is Mike Peters and his band The Alarm's annual shindig, loyal fans come from all around the world to celebrate their music, this is the 18th Gathering and for the 1st time this year the venue has changed from Llandudno to Prestatyn at Pontins Sands Holiday Park not far from Mike Peters home in Rhyl. The price for all the weekends events including accommodation is a very reasonable £99 all you have to do is buy your own food and drink. The packed itinerary is not for the faint hearted and sees a lot of people over the weekend spend very little time in their beds, this is rock 'n' roll so why not.
Mike Peters delivers a very heart felt and passionate acoustic set providing a complete collection of songs thought his career with all backing of the almost word perfect audience. Mike and his wife Jules have both suffered serious health threats to their lives recently and both of them have fought their illnesses and defeated them, these two people have a complete passion for life and their family and this comes out in Mike's songs. There was a great version of Big Country's ‘In a Big Country’ played to keep the memory of the late great Stuart Adamson alive and a truly uplifting ‘Blaze of Glory’ to end this part of the set.
The early risers are up at 9:30am for Phil's Rockin' Tour Of Alarm History a bus tour around the area pointing out all the areas of the Alarms history, next up is an Alarm Guitar Show with Andy Gray and James Stevenson showing Alarm guitars from 1977 to the present day with a master class showing how Mike Peters taught U2’s Bono how to play ‘Knockin' On Heaven's Door’ which concluded with 20 guitarists along with a bass player and a drummer on stage accompanied by Mike on vocals.
There was an Alarm Mastermind hosted by one of Mike's best friends Modnuss Modnusson and also an X Factor style competition between 6 bands called the A factor which had a strangely familiar final band called False Alarm performing ‘Rock 'N' Roll Star’ by Oasis, this turned out to be The Alarm is disguise with all the members swapping instruments. The evening's events continued in the Red Poppy Arena with the winning band from the A factor kicking off proceedings - Shoot the Poets are a young band from Ripley in Derbyshire and performed a great set impressing many in the audience. Punk appreciation band Night of Treason hit the stage at breakneck pace performing a mixture of punk rock covers along with their own material giving the chance for a few aging punks to pogo down the front. Stuart Cable former drummer with the Stereophonics new band Killing For Company give a great account of themselves with a metallic set comprising of new songs for their forth-coming album.
False Alarm (The Alarm in disguise)
The Saturday night electric set at the Gathering always produces some amazing performances from The Alarm, as the rear curtain in removed from the stage it reveals a huge new background, brand new red drum kit and two huge video screens, countdown to stage time starts on the video screens and in the crowd you can feel the anticipation and excitement at the time gets nearer. The 28 song set pulls music from all areas of the bands career with the band delivering a stunning performance, at one point Mike appears at the back of the room with just his acoustic guitar, plays the intro to ‘Rescue Me’ and climbs through the middle of the crowd back to the stage to complete the track with the band. The set ends with Mike inviting the Doctor's that saved his and his wife's lives on to the stage with their guitars for an emotionally charged ‘Knockin' On Heaven's Door’. The night is not over yet in fact it is only just starting!!
Children of the Revolution’ are a tongue in cheek 70's glam rock band created by The Alarm and are saved for special events such as this the after show party, the band all have the own suitable names, we have the legendary Rufus Stone-Bass/Vocals, Vince St Claire - Guitar, Heath Rowe - Drums and Alain Insane on Guitar/Vocals, the band are of course another one of The Alarms alter ego's. The band and some of the audience have all dressed in 70's clothes and wigs for the occasion. A hilarious hour of 70's covers followed with the band running through Status Quo's ‘Caroline’, Mott The Hoople's ‘All The Young Dudes’ and ‘Motorbikin’ which sees Rufus take the lead vocals wearing an large afro wig and moustache which falls off while he is singing.
I might be biased as I’ve been an Alarm fan since 1985, but I deify any other band to put on a weekend as good as this, the band and the MPO (Mike Peters Organization) pulled out all the stops to make the weekend as fun and entertaining as they can, everything was all in one place and everybody had the chance to do as little or as much as they wanted, I for one will be back next year.
Review by Dave Chinery (Chinners)