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THE ALARM/The Last Republic
O2 Islington Academy, London 21 May 2011

Photos by Noel Buckley

The Alarm, photo by Noel Buckley

The Last Republic have certainly become a tighter live unit since I last saw them supporting Pure Reason Revolution back in December last year. Shame that most of the crowd weren't in yet as they missed a treat.

The Last Republic, photo by Noel Buckley

Like many gigs I have seen at this venue one band always seems to be plagued by sound problems - this time the bass player kept losing sound. But this didn't stop the band whose music, almost epic and Muse like at times, is destined for the bigger stages I am sure. Highlights included the new single, 'The Fear', '(C'Mon) Flood The Gates' and 'Let's Make Bombs'.

Just over a month ago I was enjoying seeing Mike Peters in Big Country, now he's back in his band. By the time Mike Peters and the rest of the band took to the stage the place was packed.

The Alarm, photo by Noel Buckley

Mike Peters has kept the Alarm spirit going, being the sole remaining original member, helped greatly by such a large and loyal fanbase. The band's line-up features long time bassist Craig Adams (Sisters Of Mercy/The Mission), Mark Taylor - no, not GRTR!s Mr Taylor - on keyboards (Simple Minds), James Stevenson on guitar (Gene Loves Jezebel/Generation X) and Steve ‘Smiley’ Barnard on drums (Joe Strummer’s Mescaleros). The band are celebrating their 30th anniversary so tonight's setlist features the 80's classics plus some laterday standards.

Starting off on acoustic guitars we get 'Sold Me Down The River', the blissful 'Rain In The Summertime' and 'Strength'.

The Alarm, with Glen Matlock, photo by Noel Buckley
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The upcoming single 'Break The Promise' goes down well - the single features over 2,000 fans recorded as part of the Alarm choir. Tonight's audience make a good effort to replicate that choir. 'Superchannel' and '45 RPM' are two more modern songs, both with a frantic edge and go down well with the crowd. Those at the front spending much of the night pogoing along to the songs.

'Marchin' On', 'Blaze Of Glory' (complete with football like chanting from the audience) 'Drunk and Disorderly' and 'Where Were You Hiding?' keep the tempo running along nicely and by the time we reach '68 Guns' the whole place is bouncing away.

The Alarm, photo by Noel Buckley

A nice touch on the encores is a fan joins the band onstage for 'Love Hope Strength'. The chosen fan is one who has raised or bid the most for spot and all proceeds go to the cancer charity Mike Peters founded.

After an encore of 'Spirit Of '76' we get a real treat as former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock (he has played with Mike Peters before in Dead Men Walking) joins the band for 'Pretty Vacant' and the show closer, a cover of Neil Young's 'Rockin' In The Free World'. What a storming way to end a magnificent show.

The band are on top form and in Mike Peters you have a frontman with more musical passion and energy than someone half his age. Do yourself a favour and go see The Alarm as they are one of the best live bands around.

Review by Jason Ritchie

Photos by Noel Buckley

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