The Alarm shows its Strength and promise in Vancouver

chris cameron photo


By Steve Newton

One of my favourite albums of 1985 was Strength by the Alarm. It was a totally inspiring bit of guitar-driven rock that blended the bristling anger of the Clash with the soulful humanity of U2. I predicted back then that these guys would be real big someday, and since it hasn’t happened yet, I’m still predicting it. As their show at the 86 Street Music Hall last week (March 9) proved, they certainly have what it takes.

A healthy crowd of 900 packed the Expo nightclub, many of whom have only recently come to know the band through its latest single, “Rain in the Summertime”. To update that portion of the audience, the Welsh quartet tossed off rowdy versions of their first North American hit, “68 Guns”, and “Blaze of Glory”–another track from their 1983 Declaration LP.

Looking like an emaciated Robin Trower, guitarist Dave Sharp handled the quick switches from rhythm to lead with grace aplenty, while lead singer Mike Peters’ rough-hewn vocals and declaratory stage presence kept most of the crowd’s eye on him. Bassist Eddie Macdonald and drummer Twist did their own thing admirably, laying down the rhythmic backdrop to the band’s exhilarating noise.

Having seen the band open for Pat Benatar at the Pacific Coliseum in the spring of ’86, I had the impression they’d be great in a more intimate setting, and I wasn’t wrong. The latest news is that they’ve been chosen as the opening act on Bob Dylan’s next tour, so my three-year-old prediction of the Alarm’s rise to rock prominence might still prove legitimate. Here’s hoping.


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