Mike Peters continues to entertain a warmly appreciative fanbase. Lee Downing saw his latest visit to Birmingham.
Mike Peters, leader of internationally acclaimed Welsh band the Alarm, brought his acoustic set to the 02 Academy in a celebration of 30 years since the band first used their distinctive Red Poppy emblem. First appearing on their Marching On single the poppy has become an iconic symbol for Mike and his band ever since.
American singer-songwriter Joe Silva kicked off proceedings in a manner that the rest of the night carried on. With a predominantly acoustic backing to his melodic voice and intelligent lyrics, Joe’s a huge admirer of the Alarm and got the crowd onside when describing Mike Peters as his “John Lennon.” The relationship that the two singers have formed is born out by huge mutual respect and an obvious root in their own social views on the life that surrounds and influences them. This is never more obvious than during Joe’s appearances at The Gathering, a get-together of Alarm fans which has grown into the largest single-band meeting of its type and is now in its 21st year.
Mike himself must be a frontrunner for one of the hardest-working frontmen in the music business. Apart from his own solo shows he fronts not only the Alarm, but also in the last two years he’s begun working with Big Country and has toured extensively with both bands. This is on top of being the face of his own cancer charity Love Hope
Strength, an organization that provides support for a wide range of cancer sufferers and was born out of Mike’s own battle against leukaemia.
A couple of hundred devotees were present at the Academy and were treated to songs from the prolific repertoire that spans more than thirty years. He kicks off with A Breed Apart, a song written for Vinyl, the film covering the Poppy Fields scam from 2004 when the Alarm fooled the industry into thinking that one of their songs was the work of a younger band. It’s as good as anything Mike’s ever written.
The relationship between Mike Peters and his audience has always been a close one; requests were subsequently performed and dedicated to the requestor along with an intuitive narrative telling the story of how the song came about and its meaning. Crowd favourites Marching On, Absolute Reality, Unsafe Building (the reason that Mr Silva became a huge fan), Spirit of 76, 45 RPM, 68 Guns, Across the Border, Blaze of Glory… All were played and sung along with by a crowd that may not have been the biggest this venue has ever seen but was one of the most appreciative. A couple of Big Country songs in Fragile Thing and In a Big Country were also given an airing, warmly received with another huge dose of crowd participation.
Mr Peters is indeed a rare breed in these days of manufactured product masquerading as heartfelt music. Long may he continue.