BEAVER COUNTY TIMES
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An Alarm-ing concert rang true in Baldwin
By Scott Tady
Posted Nov 12, 2018 at 11:13 AMUpdated Nov 12, 2018 at 1:27 PM
BALDWIN — Standing on a concert stage formerly occupied by a bowling alley, Mike Peters gazed upward at one point Sunday, his eyes following a trajectory as if he was playing a stadium.
I found that heartwarming for some reason.
His Welsh rock band, The Alarm, demonstrated it’s still got an anthemic, stadium-sized sound, as they delighted several hundred spectators at The Crafthouse Stage & Grille in the South Hills community of Baldwin.
It’s a far cry from Wembley Stadium, where The Alarm opened for Freddie Mercury’s Queen in 1986, though Peters and his bandmates, including bassist-guitarist James Stevenson (Generation X/Gene Loves Jezebel) looked to be having a blast as their uplifting songs convinced a throng of 40- and 50-somethings to dance in front of the stage, in a way you rarely see at The Crafthouse’s more established, North Hills counterpart, Jergel’s Rhythm Grille.
“Blaze of Glory” got the triumphant fist-pumping going, and “Rain in the Summertime,” inspired by the band’s native Wales, made fans rhythmically sway.
Peters repeatedly sprang back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth among the three microphones at the front of the stage. He strummed an acoustic guitar on many songs, which didn’t get lost in the bass and drums crunch. Peters’ wife, Jules, supplied the keyboard grooves. They’re an inspirational couple, as Jules has taken her battle against breast cancer public since her 2016 diagnosis, with her hubby also in remission from leukemia, which he was diagnosed with a dozen years ago.
They co-founded Love Hope Strength, a cancer charity for which one of the fundraisers provides the highest donor (minimum $150 bid) a chance to hop on stage during The Alarm’s encore and become a one-night-only member of the band. Fortunately, the guy who earned that honor Sunday was a decent guitarist and singer, who shared lead vocals on the namesake “Love Hope Strength” and a cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
The Alarm reached that encore in high-gear, powered by “Sold Me Down the River,” which in the late ’80s got ample airplay on MTV’s taste-making alternative-rock show, “120 Minutes.” Though Peters preferred to reminisce about the band’s debut on an even bigger TV institution, Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” Just like in those days, he threw a deck of cards into the crowd, giving fans a unique keepsake. The bittersweet nostalgia of “Spirit of ’76″ and the battle cry of “68 Guns,” the group’s U.S. breakthrough, were clear-cut crowd-pleasers.
It was my first visit to The Crafthouse, which still has a smaller-than-original bowling alley attached to it, with a menu focused on craft beers and craft food such as “Wingerogies” (deep-fried pirogis tossed in homemade buffalo wing sauce).
The Crafthouse took a little less than an hour to reach from Beaver, with the Brownsville Road detour not helping matters. I had to pull over and ask for directions twice — and I grew up in neighboring South Park — but it’s worth the adventure.
The Crafthouse concert calendar the next few months is heavy on tribute bands paying homage to AC/DC, Poison, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Journey, though springtime brings shows by Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup (Feb. 6) and former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee (March 18). Nationally known alt-rock band Jimmie’s Chicken Shack played there Nov. 1, in a show opened by Beaver County’s own Mushcup.