Absolute Tour 1985

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20th April – May 13th May 1985 Absolute Tour in the UK
The band line up for the tour was Mike Peters, Dave Sharp, Eddie Macdonald, Nigel Twist with Rupert Black of The Pretenders on keyboards
The Alarm are supported on the entire Absolute Tour by The Faith Brothers

(Tour Pass image supplied by Stephen Rav)

The Absolute Tour had originally been booked to go with the release of an album that would have been finished and released had Jimmy Iovine not pulled out of his engagement to record with The Alarm in early January. Rather than cancel the tour, The Alarm had decided to honour the commitment and use the gigs as a chance to perform their new songs live. The tour program, featured a 7″ clear flexi disc with an audio message from Mike Peters and a cut down version of The Alarm’s studio Jam session from the night of 25th March 1985

The hurriedly named “Absolute Tour” was originally booked as the album tour for the band’s second album, which frustratingly remained unrecorded. Necessity being the mother of invention, we made plans up as we went along. Releasing the single (that had already been recorded with Alan Shacklock), Absolute Reality independently. IRS had lost their distribution deal with A&M and yet we achieved better chart success than either of A&M’s The Deceiver and The Chant Has Just Begun – Ian Wilson

During the Absolute tour, the band used the middle section of the live shows to introduce the new material to their fans. Knife Edge, Dawn Chorus, The Day The Ravens Left The Tower, and Deeside were thoroughly road-tested alongside acoustic versions of Walk Forever By My Side and One Step Closer To Home. The tour also provided The Alarm with a platform for improvisation

20th April 1985 : Astra Theatre, Llandundo, Wales
An extra date added to the original tour and the first time The Alarm had played in North Wales since the 2 shows in Prestatyn and St Asaph that launched the band. This gig was a charity one in connection with Save The Children & Sudan Appeal. There is some footage of this gig that appeared on BBC2 The Old Grey Whistle Test TV show alongside an interview, this appears in the Big Night In Episode first broadcast on 13th August 2021
Set List : One Step Closer to Home, Tell Me, Third Light, The Deceiver, Walk Forever by My Side, Vigilante Man, Deeside, Dawn Chorus, Howling Wind, Blaze of Glory, Sixty Eight Guns, Absolute Reality, The Bells of Rhymney, Room at the Top, Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke, The Chant Has Just Begun, The Stand, Unbreak the Promise

(Ticket sourced via John Kidd)

21st April 1985 : Colston Hall, Bristol, England
Set list includes Vigilante Man

22nd April 1985 St. David’s Hall, Cardiff, Wales
Set list includes Vigilante Man

24th April 1985 : Guildhall, Portsmouth, England
Set list includes Absolute Reality, Vigilante Man
Audio Link – Absolute Reality live at The Guildhall, Portsmouth – Audience recording

25th April 1985 : Arts Centre, Poole, England

26th April 1985 : The Dome,  Brighton, England

27th April 1985 : The Apollo, Oxford, England
Ian Wilson was encouraging me to develop as a front man of the band and suggested I try to communicate with the audience more than I had done previously. This was the first show I ever played where I sang some songs (starting with Knife Edge), without a guitar. The future members of Radiohead were in attendance and when I opened for them at show in Albany in 1995 they all came to talk to me about this show”  Mike Peters

29th April 1985 : University of East Anglia, Norwich, England

30th April 1985 : Royal Centre, Nottingham, England

1st May 1985 : Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, England

2nd May 1985 : City (Oval) Hall, Sheffield, England

(Ticket sourced via Shaun Finnie)

4th May 1985 :  Barrowlands, Glasgow, Scotland

5th May 1985 : The Playhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland
Originally planned for The Caley Palace, the gig was moved to the larger Playhouse due to ticket demand.
Remains the best gig I ever saw even though it was a seated venue and I only had tickets for row GG I rushed the bouncers and got right to the front.  They certainly rocked that night –  Antony Greenside (Alarm Fan)

6th May 1985 : City Hall, Newcastle, England
After the show at Newcastle City Hall on May 6th 1985 at about 3 o’clock in the morning, while the other members of The Alarm slept in their hotel beds, myself and Redeye (ever faithful member of The Alarm road crew, who had moved to London with the band in 1981), were outside in the cold night air, trying to retrieve a guitar from the equipment van. I had been unable to sleep, when I got the idea for a chorus which I thought had real potential. I was afraid I might forget the melody if I slept on it and waited until the next day to work it out properly, so I persuaded Red (whom I used to room with on tour), to accompany me to the van. Once I had the guitar, I was able to finish the rest of the song – Mike Peters

7th May 1985 : University, Leeds, England
May 7th 1985 marked one of the most bizarre turns in the your history of The Alarm. The Alarm had been (frustratingly, mistakenly, wrongly, dismissively — choose your own adverb here) compared to The Clash by the UK music press. The sad part about it, was that The Clash (the remains of  the band anyway)  believed it. The Alarm had already been supported by Mike Jones B.A.D. the year before which was odd enough, but the events of May 7th were unprecedented. As The Alarm, were getting ready to play inside, The Clash (Mark II) showed-up and performed an acoustic busking concert outside the venue in Leeds (The University refectory where The Who’s – ‘Live at Leeds’ album was recorded).  The band stopped their sound-check to go watch the proceedings.

“I distinctly remember Redeye bursting on to the stage during the soundcheck and announcing that Joe Strummer and The Clash were busking to the fans outside the venue. I didn’t believe him at first and thought it was a wind-up but soon realised it was true and so I dropped everything and ran outside to see what was going on.” – Mike Peters 2015
“I saw The Clash on this tour, on a late night National Express from Nottingham to Leeds- it was very exclusive- just me, them jamming at the back and the coach driver. Unfortunately I wasn’t into the Clash much then, so didn’t recognise them. I only realised a few days later when there was a report about them busking outside an Alarm Leeds Uni gig in the Uni newspaper. The Alarm came out to watch apparently.” – John 2013 Internet Blog

Outside where the Alarm were playing that night, The Clash were disrupted 15 minutes / 4 songs into their set (about 7pm) as Joe Strummer got covered in red paint (which was thrown by members of Chumbawumba from the roof of the University Building), in protest at The Clash being part of CBS Records and the Company’s alleged involvement in the construction of Cruise Missiles.
“Meanwhile, anarchy was becoming archaic in the U.K., as a pallid version of the Clash, sans Mick Jones, roamed the streets in search of lost credibility. They’d done the America, champagne and coke thing, and they came back over here trying to prove that they could still relate to the kids, “To me it just smacked of insincerity; they were doing this tour where they would be busking outside gigs. So [fellow Chumbawumban] Danbert [Nobacon] sprayed them with red paint and then got chased through Leeds City Center by a load of angry people. But he managed to escape.” – Dunstan Bruce (Chumbawumba)
“It was certainly strange to see my hero Joe Strummer outside The Alarm’s gig at Leeds, especially when the paint got thrown around. Even stranger, was seeing the concourse empty as the door to our own gig opened and the fans rushed in to get down to the front. I could see The Clash from about a 100 yards away and I felt sorry for Joe and the band, they were obviously trying to prove some sort of point and in many ways, I could relate to what they were trying to do, especially as it was the way The Alarm had demonstrated itself in the early days after arriving London 1981, and busking on the subways and performing outside the Crypt Folk Club at St. Martins In The Fields Church in Trafalgar Square, when they wouldn’t let us play because of the way we looked. I think another reason they might have been there was driven by the fact that Mick Jones had performed the first ever Big Audio Dynamite show as support to The Alarm in Glasgow Nightmoves in 1984. I can imagine Joe Strummer thinking somewhere in his reasoning that Clash fans had started following The Alarm after they had sacked Mick Jones. In the music press at the time, there had been some verbal comments from Joe saying ‘The Alarm were an imitation of a shadow of The Clash’ and here he was imitating The Alarm with acoustic guitars. The week he died, I got a letter from an old Alarm fan – Graham Lampen, who had met Joe in a restaurant just before he passed away, where Joe admitted to him that he was a fan although he wasn’t allowed to admit it. – Mike Peters 2015

(Clash pictures and news clipping originally from Strength an Oral History on The Alarm.com)

9th May 1985 : Apollo, Manchester, England
On May 9th, I introduced ‘Strength’ to the rest of the band for the first time during soundcheck at Manchester Apollo. Dave Sharp got into it straight away and came up with the guitar riff on the spot. I even had most of the lyrics down and when I came to title it, I knew that “Strength” would make a great concept for the album  Mike Peters

10th May 1985 : The Odeon, Birmingham, England

11th May 1985 : Hammersmith Odeon, Hammersmith, London W6, England
Set List : Majority, Marching On, Deeside, Dawn Chorus, The Day the Ravens Left the Tower, Knife Edge, One Step Closer to Home, Third Light, Absolute Reality, Blaze of Glory, The Stand, Sixty Eight Guns
Review by Stevespida published on Fanclubyears Blog
We’d been to see Ultravox at Hammersmith Odeon and had such a great time, that when we saw The Alarm were going there too and on a Saturday, we jumped at the chance to have a full day out in London. Getting to London from Leicester was pretty easy, we all met at the station and got on the train, an hour and a half later, we were in the big city smoke. Memory does me no service on what we did during the day, but I would be fairly sure we had what would be my first visit to areas such as Covent Garden, Carnaby Street and a bit of sight seeing….and food and beer!! I doubt at this point we would have ventured to Camden, I’m sure that happened quite a bit later and maybe even on a non music trip to begin with. The Alarm were fast becoming a firm favourite for great concerts, singing to the tunes and the atmosphere. I’d by now discovered that black everything was my favoured colours, wasn’t really loving jeans, so black army trousers worked well with black shirt and a black Alarm Canvas jacket (long since gone and out-grown). In a strange way this was a little bit of a disappointing Alarm concert, not because they were not good, they were their usual great show, but Hammersmith Odeon was all seated and that wan’t conducive to the bopping and moshing we wanted to do. Great concert and superb day out discovering London for the first real day

13th May 1985 : Hammersmith Palais, Hammersmith, London W6, England
The Alarm had been sound-checking and Mike had a platform built between the crowd and stage. After the band left, the safety people objected and had it removed. Nobody told Mike. The band went on stage to “Majority” and Mike decided to use the platform. He ran toward it, didn’t notice it wasn’t there, and the first view of Mike the crowd got was him falling to the floor. The words to “Majority” were changed that night to “I see a sea of faces staring down!” – Dirk Horst (Alarm Fan)

“I do remember the time Mike fell off stage in the Hammy Palais. One thing I’m not sure that everyone noticed is that when Mike finally got himself back on stage and pulled out his harmonica to start “Shout To The Devil”, little did he realise that it had been crushed to the size of a slice of toast when he fell into the pit. The ensuing harp solo sounded like someone trying to blow one of those Christmas party trumpets! –Nigel Twist 

14th May 1985 : Goldiggers, Chippenham, England

15th May 1985 : Queensway Hall, Dunstable, England

16th May 1985 :  King’s Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, England

18th May 1985 : Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland

19th May 1985 : The TV Club, Dublin,, Ireland

21st May 1985 : Afan Lido, Port Talbot, Wales

22nd May 1985 : Civic Hall, Guildford. England
“I was 16 and went with my mate to Guildford. The Faith Brothers opened that night and I instantly liked their brass-edged soul tinged pop. When The Alarm came on I can still distinctly recall be covered in goose bumps despite it being really hot in the venue. I was completely blown away and hooked by the band’s passion, tunes and presence. Since that day I have lost count of the actual number of shows I have seen to date, it must be liberally hundreds (including Mike solo and all the spin-of bands; Dead Men Walking, Children of the Revolution, Acoustic Terrorists, Los Mondo Bongo, Dave Sharp solo and with the Barnstormers, Westway…To the Clash, Coloursound and now Big Country). “ – Pete Cole (Alarm Fan)

(Page updated 23/04/2022)

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