Wake Up America Tour 1983

Wake Up America 1983 [Supporting U2 On the War tour]

In May 1983, The Alarm were embarking on a short UK tour to support their new single The Stand, released in April of that year.   With Ian Wilson  as their manager, they slowly, but steadily built a following across the UK.  Wilson, once U2’s agent,  helped The Alarm gain multiple support slots with U2 throughout late 1981 and 1982.  Both bands had a similar energy and spirit that made them compatible touring bands. It was not long before U2 came calling once more. The Alarm had to cancel their “The Stand” single support date tour dates in Glasgow, Coventry and Bradford for a tour with U2 in the USA seemed like too good a chance to pass-up, even if it meant cancelling already scheduled tour dates.

30th May 1983 – The Band depart from Heathrow Airport, London, England to embark on their first tour of the USA as special guests of U2, During the tour they would also headline a few shows of their own.

“To the strains of ‘68 Guns’ sung by our ever-present , ever-faithful, self-titled Family of Fans, we left Heathrow Airport at midday bound for America. Our plan to beat jet lag failed miserably as we were too excited to even blink, never mind sleep. As we flew over North America, with all of us looking out of one porthole at the back of the plane, we imagined what The Beatles must have felt as they flew over for the first time.” – Mike Peters Tour Diary

The band depart from Heathrow Airport pictured with Rob Bevis

The original touring party that first flew in was: Mike Peters, Dave Sharp, Nigel Twist, Eddie Macdonald Simon Watson – Tour Manager and Sound Engineer Redeye (John Selwyn Edwards) – Backline Tech and in house comedian Gaz Top (Gareth Jones) – Backline tech and also in house comedian (and photographer) They were  joined by Georgia (Red’s girlfriend of the time) from the LA Arena show  onwards and then by Ian Wilson (The Alarm’s manager and U2’s European booking agent) from Florida to New York

We got to America, we were so excited that we didn’t sleep then either. We were staying in the hotel  called The Tropicana, which was a bit of a legendary place and Iggy Pop, Jim Morrision and all this lot had stayed there. The first  thing we did when we got in the hotel, we all phoned home to say we were in America and how great it was. And then Miles Copeland  called to say I’m taking you out for dinner tonight. We thought rather than have a shower, we’ll go in the swimming pool.  Hotel with a swimming pool, we’d never stayed in one of those before. We all went in the swimming pool, the four of us and Gaz and Redeye and we all had similar haircuts, and we only went in this far and we were all stood in this swimming pool, with the hair out here, going “It’s great in America isn’t it!” – Mike Peters Alarm 2000 Day, May 28th, 2000.

1st June 1983 : Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, USA, California, USA
This was the first ever USA Alarm live gig.
We had to go from LA to San Francisco to play with U2. It’s 250 miles, we thought “no problem, about three or four hours, hammer it up there”. We get in the hire vehicle, hit the highway, giving ourselves enough time to get there for the soundcheck. It won’t go past 50, it’s got a limiter on it. First gig in America, we’re late. We get to the gig in San Francisco and Bono & The Edge are waiting for us. We get all the gear out, pile all the gear on stage, we didn’t have a  soundcheck and the next minute the house lights are out and we’re due to be on stage. We get the guitars on and think, s***, these strings have been on for like five days. We start playing (Declaration) and my strings go “boing, boing, boing” and Dave’s are going as  well. It’s like “Mike, tell some stories”. I thought ‘What do you say?’. So it’s “Hello San Francisco” and I get a little applause. I said “It’s our first night ever we’ve played a gig in America” and the  Americans cheer. I thought this is good this. On the way over I’d been playing a Bruce Springsteen bootleg called “Live in San  Francisco, Live in the promised land”. So I was going ‘It’s really nice to be in San Francisco, really great to be in the promised  land’, and they’re going wild. By that time I’d got my guitar back on and wham off we go into the set.” Mike Peters Alarm 2000 Day, May 28th, 2000

3rd June 1983 : Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
We drove all night from SF to Salt Lake City and I took the wheel at about midnight. A terrific thunderstorm lit up the sky and I was so taken by its beauty that I ended up driving all the way into Salt Lake. On arrival everyone went straight to bed, except Redeye (part of The Alarm roadcrew) and myself, who decided to get something to eat. We set off up the road but had to turn back after only 200 yards due to all the locals freaking out over our haircuts.” – Mike Peters Tour Diary, 1983

5th June 1983 : Red Rocks, Denver, Colorado, USA
The Alarm’s opening set was cancelled due to rain, but U2 later went onstage and filmed their “Under a Blood Red Sky” concert video.
There was a break in the rain and U2 went on to do one or two songs just to get a bit of footage on the video and they arranged a show the next night in Boulder, Colorado. During the first number, the sky changed, and Paul McGuiness was like “Keep Going” and sending out messages to keep the camera’s rolling. We were supposed to go on for the second number, to do Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan. But U2 carried on and ended up playing a full set. – Mike Peters Alarm 2000 Day, May 28th, 2000.
I remember Red Rocks. It was probably the best show on the tour. Edge broke a string on Adam’s bass so they borrowed Eddie’s, you can see it on ’40.’ – Nigel Twist

6th June 1983 : University Events Center, Boulder, Colorado, USA
We were actually starting to get a few ideas of how things might pan out for us in America and so at this gig we decided to make a grand entrance. We approached Pete Williams U2’s lighting designer with an idea for the start of our set which involved us walking onstage to the music that was the theme tune for the classic movie ‘Once Upon A Time In America’. We came up with the idea of walking down to the stage from the top of the arena while the intro music was playing. The only thing wrong with the plan was that we didn’t rehearse it. We had not realised how difficult it was to walk down the steps of an arena with only a spotlight to light the way, especially Nigel Twist who had to do it in his dark glasses, we were tripping and stumbling and it took a lot longer than we imagined. We also had not allowed for the fact that we had to walk behind the stage to get on stage and by the time we got there the audience were slow hand clapping us. When we came off stage after our set, Pete Williams was waiting for us with a big grin on his face. He knew all along that our grand plan was destined for failure but you can only learn from those sort of mistakes for yourself – by trial and error. When Bono called us up to play ‘Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ (which we had planned to do the previous night at Red Rocks), some of the audience started throwing coins at me when it was my turn to sing. Bono came and stood next to me so that they would stop which was a really great gesture. The version we played was pretty terrible as we had all forgotten how to play it to be honest. We had learnt it in the dressing room at Red Rocks but by the time we got on stage at Boulder it was all a blur and that’s why Bono sent us off…. and that included Larry Mullen Jr.!! – Mike Peters

7th June 1983 : Cotillion Ballroom, Wichita, Kansas, USA – cancelled because of a lack of ticket sales
8th June 1983 : Memorial Hall, Kansas City, Kansas, USA
10th June 1983 : Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Oklahoma, USA

11th June 1983 : The Meadows, Austin, Texas, USA
Austin : Saturday night in Austin, Texas, and after the gig the only place to be is Sixth Street which is packed with bars, discos and restaurants. Everyone was very friendly, even though they were taken back by our appearance, which, as I’ve explained, receives a more fierce reaction than in Britain. The advent of MTV has revitalised the grapevine in the USA, something which has been missing since the sixties. – Mike Peters Tour Diary, 1983

13th June 1983 : Bronco Bow, Dallas, Texas, USA
This was the show preceded by the KZEW interview with George Gimarc that featured myself and Bono. – Mike Peters

14th June 1983 : Houston Astrodome, Houston, Texas, USA
17th June 1983 : Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, USA

18th June 1983 : Club Lingerie, Los Angeles, California, USA.
The Alarm’s first ever headlining show in the USA, on a night off from the U2 tour.  Bono could not get in and The Alarm had to sneak him in the back.

“Los Angeles : While in LA, we did our first headline show. When we arrived, at the Club Lingerie, lots of people were being turned away, including all of U2. We managed to persuade the management to let our Irish pals in but most people were being turned away because they did not have ID to prove that they were over 21. It was unfortunate that we were not informed of this in advance” – Mike Peters Tour Diary, 1983

21st June 1983 : Jai Alai Fronton Hall, Orlando, California, USA
Set list includes : Marching On, Blaze Of Glory, Across The Border, The Stand

22nd June 1983 : Curtis Hixon Hall, Tampa, Florida, USA
This is where we first felt the heat, with everything else paling into insignificance in the mad rush for cold drinks and air conditioning. By this stage of the tour, the travelling and gigging had begun to take its toll, and we saved our energy for the stage and the interviews that were starting to come in thick and fast as news of The Alarm spread. – Mike Peters Tour Diary, 1983

23rd June 1983 : Sunrise Musical Theater, Miami, Florida, USA
24th June 1983 : Civic Auditorium, Jackson, Florida, USA

25th June 1983 : Atlanta Civic Center, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
A great gig for both The Alarm and U2. Bono was a lot more rested by this show as the pressure had started to show during the Texas run and the band were generally tired from being on the road for so long. – Mike Peters

27th June 1983 : New Haven Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
This was the gig where we opened the show to be followed by Marshall Crenshaw… We went down so well in our set that Paul McGuiness (U2’s manager), told us to go back on for an encore and paid the union fine that was incurred by us running ‘overtime’. I don’t think Marshall Crenshaw knew what he was letting himself in for going on between The Alarm and U2. – Mike Peters

28th June 1983 : The Centrum, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
Set list includes : Sixty Eight Guns
Bono and The Edge had been championing our record ‘The Stand’ during their own promo interviews and had made Carter Allen play the song on air before the show. We then met Carter Allen and all the WBCN Radio team at this show. After our set, they invited us to play at Boston Metro as mystery guests to close out their annual Battle Of The Bands which was known as the WBCN Rumble. – Mike Peters

29th June 1983 : Pier 84, New York City, New York, USA
Set list : Shout to the Devil, For Freedom, Marching On, Up for Murder, The Deceiver, Blaze of Glory, The Stand, Tell Me, Across the Border, Sixty Eight Guns, We Are the Light
In NYC we played at the Pier. I got to sound check and Larry, Edge and Adam were playing. Larry asked me to play his kit for him while he went out front to listen to it. I started playing New Year’s Day and Edge and Adam jammed along, then Bono got up and jammed some new lyrics over it. – Nigel Twist

30th June 1983 : The Metro, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Part of the WBCN Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble 1983 event.
The Alarm opened for U2 in New York the night before & then played a “surprise” show in Boston at WBCN’s rock and Roll Rumble (battle of the bands), with the show starting after 12:00 midnight.

“In addition to the Rumble competition, there’s an attractive bonus tonight. The Alarm, a young Welsh quartet who played a terrific show at the Centrum Tuesday (opening for U2), will close the evening, with a set around 1 a.m. The Alarm’s sound is a heady mix of acoustic and electric guitars, powered by riveting, martial percussion and ragged, urgent vocals. They evince a positive sort of passion, not unlike U2, with a force and feeling that recalls the early Clash.” – Jim Sullivan, Boston Globe, June 30, 1983

1st July 1983 : The Marquee, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Alarm headline show
We played a club in Brooklyn, there was absolutely nobody in the room and we were all feeling really low, as if all the work we had put in and the shows we had played, had all counted for nothing. We saw someone enter through the door and our spirits raised but we soon realised that it was a fan from Holywell,  North Wales, Chris Ford, who had heard we were making it big in America! I think we played to three people that night and we knew all three of them. It was quite a wake up call. – Mike Peters

2nd July 1983 : Ritz Ballroom, New York, USA
Alarm headline show
One of the last things I said before leaving the stage at the Pier 84 show with U2 was “See you at The Ritz on Saturday”. I think we were all fearing the worst at the soundcheck in The Ritz and thought that the same thing that had happened in Brooklyn was going to happen again.  The signs that this show was going to be different happened just before the doors opened, when a guy named Vinnie asked the venue door men if he could “come on stage and pipe The Alarm on to the stage”. We agreed, as we thought it would be something special for the last night of the tour. When we were in the dressing room, Gaz and Red who were setting up our gear after the opening band had finished came rushing back to tell us that the venue was filling up and then, just before we went on stage,  Ian Wilson came back and said the venue was starting to turn people away! We walked out to a full house and absolutely rocked the place to the core. It was an amazing turn around and a huge lift for us as a band. We had a party after in the dressing room and then went back to the Iroquois Hotel on 44th street (just off Time Square…. it had the slowest lift in the world), but had been the hotel of choice for The Clash when they stayed in New York so for us, all was well that ended well! – Mike Peters

One comment

  1. The info and quotes on this page are great!!! For instance, I had no idea they played their first headline at a small club in L.A. in 83. Great!

Leave a Reply