UCLA – The Spirit of 86

On the 12th April 1986 The Alarm played to 25,000+ people to witness one of the first live satellite worldwide broadcasts ever. Played live on MTV, but taped for some parts of the world.

The gig was broadcast from the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), California, USA.

The band line up for the day was Mike Peters, Dave Sharp, Eddie Macdonald, Nigel Twist and Mark Taylor

The whole gig can be viewed on an unofficial upload on you tube on this Video Link
Set List
1. Introduction (0:00 – 1:42)
2. Marching On (1:43 – 6:58)
3. Howling Wind (6:59​ – 12:34​)
4. Knife Edge (13:06​ – 17:53​)
5. Blaze of Glory (18:06​ – 24:34​)
6. Absolute Reality (24:36​ – 27:47​)
7. Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke? (28:04​ – 32:05​)
8. Walk Forever By My Side (33:15​ – 37:00​)
9. Spirit of 76 (38:28​ – 46:17​)
10. Sixty Eight Guns (46:26​ – 53:22​)
11. Strength (53:25​ – 1:01:17​)
12. The Stand (1:02:45​ – 1:09:50​)
13. Knocking On Heavens Door (1:10:22​ – 1:15:02​)

After the camera’s finished broadcast We Are The Light was also performed.

The gig was initially released in 1986 by Hendring on a VHS and Beta PAL format video cassette in the UK (catalogue number HEN 2 043 D) and MCA Home Video on VHS NTSC format video casette in the USA (catalogue number VHS 80414

Interview with the Toronto Sun first published on 16th September 2016 between Bill Harris and Mike Peters

It has been 30 years since British band the Alarm played its classic “Spirit of ’86” concert at UCLA in Los Angeles, which was beamed all over the world, live via satellite, courtesy of MTV.
“We actually had to order the satellite to come over in space and wait until it was literally overhead, at 3 in the afternoon in Los Angeles, so we could beam it live around the world,” recalled Mike Peters, front-man of the Alarm. “It had never been done before.
“Live Aid was only the year before, but it wasn’t a ‘live around the world’ thing, meaning, you know, Britain had to wait to see the American and Canadian events. So this (the Alarm at UCLA in ’86) was the first time you could see it (simultaneously) on MTV in the USA, I think it was on MuchMusic in Canada, and then it was on the BBC in Britain and Europe, and it was in Asia and Japan and Australia, it was a global event.”

The era of music TV was so forceful and strong, but looking back now in the grand scheme, it was short-lived, wasn’t it
Peters: “Yeah, absolutely. I remember coming to the USA first, and MTV was everywhere. And then we started to come up into Canada and felt the power of MuchMusic in a similar way. But I think it was faddy, in the sense that the ’80s was the most dressed-up era of music.”
What do you remember specifically about that UCLA gig?
Peters: “It was scary, because at 10 minutes to 3, the barrier holding 26,000 people collapsed. And the fire marshal of California came into the dressing room and said, ‘Whoever’s in charge of this band, if you don’t get out there and move the audience back, this gig isn’t happening.’ So there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders to go out and ask the audience to move back.”
What do you think when you see footage from that concert now (it can be found on YouTube)?
Peters: “It was outdoors, it was unusual. It wasn’t the sort of festival frenzy that we have all summer long now, with festivals everywhere. And it was in broad daylight. There was a lot of debate about when we should go on stage. A couple of the band members were like, ‘People aren’t going to see the real show, they’re not going to see us in the dark with the lights and the spotlights, it’s not going to look great.’ But actually, it played into our hands. The fact that everyone could see the audience, it wasn’t just a film about the Alarm, it was about our generation.”
I assume playing at 3 in the afternoon also was just a practical decision, timing-wise.
Peters: “It was 3 o’clock in California, it was 6 o’clock on the East Coast, it was 11 o’clock or midnight in Europe, it was the morning in Japan and Australia. So it’s really the only hour in the world’s time frame where everyone is actually awake (laughs).”

On Saturday 9th April 2016, Mike Peters returned to UCLA and celebrated the 30th Anniversary of The Alarm’s historic open air concert at the James Bridges Theatre on the Campus of UCLA where Mike told the epic story of The Alarm’s original ‘Spirit Of ’86’ concert that took place 30 years ago on April 12th 1986.

Spirit of ’86 – 30th Anniversary promotion event preview video – Video Link

April 2016 Press Release from TheAlarm.com
It promises to be an engaging evening with fans once again making the journey to California to relive the moment when MTV beamed a live concert from the band around the world, capturing The Alarm’s original line up at it’s most powerful. There will be stories and songs a plenty from Mike Peters with the event hosted by thealarm.com founder and editor in chief – Steve Fulton who will be questioning Mike on all aspects of the build up and execution of the event itself. Insights into all the backstage drama that  surrounded the original event will be revealed and shared along with live acoustic performances of songs integral to the story and then the piece de resistance:


Leave a Reply