Gathering To Gathering Diary (1993-1994)

December 1993

“I returned from the ‘Back Into The System’ video shoot which had taken me around the globe in 8 frantic days to appear at the opening night of the second annual Gathering. The Twenty One song Friday night acoustic show proved to be a revelation to many, myself included. I learnt a lot about myself that night, the songs from my back pages sounded fresher than ever and set the seal for me to be able to celebrate the past alongside the future. The future was laid out before an expectant audience during the Saturday night electric performance. The lights went down the show was back on the road and 1994 lay ahead….”

January 1994

Back into the system at last… The first shots have been fired. I feel like a kid again, did I really make 5 albums with The Alarm? The thrill is greater than ever before. I have a lot of fun during the record store signing sessions. It is good to meet up with everyone in person…Instant reaction… Feedback…Radio sessions; a special one at Radio Scotland with the ghetto blaster which had been unveiled during the H.M.V. tour. Johnny Walker invited us on to Radio One to talk about ‘The Gadget’. The van is back on the road and the man is in seventh heaven…. “

February 1994

“The ‘Back Into The System Tour’ wheels into action in Hull and improves with every show. Crash Barriers collapse in Liverpool during ’76…The Punk Medley gets faster and faster…Reading After Dark I spend three hours in casualty having stitches after a stage diving accident during ‘War’ of all songs. Mixing the second single ‘No Better Than This’ on the day off and driving through Liverpool in a snow storm to record ‘Devils World’. Back on the road for the London Borderline and celebrate the dawn of my birthday on the side of the M1 Motorway in a broken down tour bus… ah, such is life and then on to Cardiff Coal Exchange… Unforgettable….”

March 1994

“Artwork for single, master the single, MPO becoming busier and busier as word spreads. Shoot for two rainy days in Snowdonia and at the recording studio with an inquisitive Gary Rhodes for his BBC2 cookery programme ‘Rhodes Around Britain’ and then head off to Almeria in Spain to film a video for ‘No Better Than This’ directed by Alan (Who’s brought the film?) Duncan-Bond.”

April 1994

“Back on the road… or at least we would be if the tour bus showed up… stress and an anxious wait… why do things go wrong on the first day of the tour ?… sod’s law I suppose… vans are hired and the show goes on…just about. No sound check but who cares, it’s Dudley and it turns out to be a great gig. The tour bus arrives and finally we are…’back on the road’. ‘It just don’t get any better than this’. Well in this case it did and we soon found ourselves on the Aimee Mann tour which proved to be an ‘experience’. It felt good to be back in theatres but also it was strange to have to support at Glasgows’ King Tuts which had been a sell out in February. Still there was a marvellous show of support from the MPO at all the shows and judging from the response since then a lot of people who had been ignorant of Mike Peters or even The Alarm became hard-core fans and their presence has been felt at later shows. London Shepherds Bush, Bristol BierKeller, Dublin Gaiety Theatre all stand out as triumphs. Spring rolled into Summer and we celebrated with an after-show knees up in Dublin.”

May 1994

“Entered Sain Studios to record what would become ‘Breathe’. As Producer I have to push the musicians hard to achieve the right balance of energy – the clarity of performance which will ensure the right result. It is a difficult task to be musician and producer and it took a lot of discipline, not only from myself, but the band also. During this period everyone matured as musicians. There was no pressure so we all had time to satisfy every desire in the recording process.”

June 1994

“The recording sessions stretch on…I’m enjoying every minute. Everyone involved is working long hard hours and giving of themselves which is very important. Only the best will do and everyone strives to achieve performances of the highest order. Even the string quartet get caught up in the atmosphere and perform way beyond the call of duty. As the album starts to take shape you start to realise how important all the work demo-ing and touring have been to the final result.”

July 1994

“Two weeks of listening to rough mixes and deciding on a track listing, and also trying to put a little distance from the recording process in order to be focused and fresh for the mixing process. Attempted the 15 peaks of Snowdonia to try and take my mind off things. A great day of fear and wonderment, hazardous weather and emotional highs and lows. We were forced to abandon after Tryfan (the 8th peak) due to the bad weather conditions. Back into the studio and commence mixing. All the recordings sound excellent. Play ‘T in The Park’ outside Glasgow – again another demanding experience. It is one o’clock and a large audience lies in front of me. It is broad daylight and not exactly the best time for rock ‘n roll but I enjoy myself immensely – it is good to be back on the stage and I can tell that the time spent in the studio has been beneficial to the song arrangements. The reaction from the crowd seemed to indicate that things were moving in the right direction.”

August 1994

“The album, recently titled ‘Breathe’, is now complete. It has to be the most satisfying record I’ve ever made and I have to say a big thanks to all involved in the sessions for giving every effort in helping me to realise the vision. Back onto the stage at Cardiff City Festival which proved harrowing as the stage was pumped full of smoke by a lighting engineer trying to show off his lights to full effect in broad daylight. The smoke killed my voice and I really struggled to finish the show. This disappointment was more than made up for by a Greenbelt performance that was the most memorable of all my appearances at the Festival, as a solo artist or with The Alarm. We are still trying to negotiate a video release of the show. The atmosphere, the lighting, the sky, the band, the audience all hit top form.”

September 1994


October 1994

“‘Breathe’ released and so begins the toughest three months of my rock n’ roll life. I calculate that with the HMV In-Stores, the ‘Scattered Across This Land Tour,’ and the recently confirmed Saw Doctors tour that I will perform 68 times before Christmas. The ‘Scattered’ tour proves to be the best yet. Leeds was memorable for the alarm going off inside the venue, rendering the p.a. ineffective. Once it was established that an electrical fault had occurred I performed an impromptu acoustic set with the audience taking over the lead vocals. I must have performed for about thirty minutes until power was restored and the show could continue. It all added up to an incredible concert experience and when the same thing happened 2 days later during the first song at Newcastle some of the travelling fans thought it was all being done on purpose… The last show at the Boardwalk in Manchester was one of the longest shows of the tour due to the many requests taken on the night (Bootleggers please note C90 tapes are not long enough to capture the entire show). Thanks to everyone who followed the tour. Oh yeah! How could I not mention King Tuts, The Lomax, Bristol The Fleece, ‘Unsafe Building’ and Scratch at Exeter, and last but by no means least Blackwood (Home of Martin Sutter and The Manic Street Preachers).”

November 1994

“‘Scattered Across This Land’ bled into the ‘Small Bit Of Love’ Tour with The Saw Doctors. Kicking off at Colston Hall was daunting: I suddenly found myself on stage completely solo. That first night went by in a blur of stage fright, terror, excitement and the rush of adrenaline. Once I settled into the swing of things I found myself enjoying the experience more and more and I have to say that the tour proved to be one of the most satisfying experiences of my touring life. I reacquainted myself with a lot of old fans who had completely lost touch, and made a lot of new fans who were unaware of The Alarm or who had been indifferent and never bothered to check the band out. Wolverhampton, Preston, Newport, Poole, Sheffield – all gigs I will never forget.”

December 1994

“The Return to Brixton Academy…The Saw Doctors made me feel incredibly welcome and the whole touring party was one of the happiest I’ve ever worked with. It was an attitude free zone. I was invited on stage by The Saw Doctors at Llandudno, London, Leeds and Glasgow. I sang ‘Bound For Glory’ and the Slade classic ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’. It was a pleasure to work with a band who give so much to their audience night after night. The Saw Doctors deserve every bit of their success and I’d like to wish them well with their new album due out in 1995.”

January 1995

“As I write there is snow on the mountains and a sense of keen anticipation in the air. The Gathering III is on the horizon, BBC TV and a tour in February, then the U.S.A., Africa and the rest of the world…. Are you gonna be there?….I’m gonna be there.”

Mike Peters 1995.

Breathe the air…

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