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Taking a Stand: ‘Sigma’ tour sets out to prove ’80s bands are still creative

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BY  ON JULY 3, 2019MUSIC

The Alarm lead singer Mike Peters says his “Sigma LXXXV Tour” with fellow new wavers Modern English and Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel is about more than reflection.

The jaunt shares with fans they’re still being creative.

“That’s what we want to come across on this tour,” Peters says. “It’s a reassessment and assessment of where we are today.”

The Welsh rockers released the album “Sigma” on June 28 to coincide with North American tour that comes to the Celebrity Theatre on Wednesday, July 31.

Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel has also tossed a collection into the new music bins. “Dance Underwater” is the band’s first studio album of new material in 14 years, thanks to a PledgeMusic campaign.

“The band was always bugging me to do an album,” Aston says. “I said the fans would have to get involved. They came through on PledgeMusic.”

Aston’s band recorded in Henley-on-Thames, where George Harrison resided.

“It was a very positive experience,” Aston says. “We were energized by that. That energy is reflected at gigs, too. I play less guitar so I can dance more. I hike a lot. I walk 20 miles a day to make it easier. I like to expend that energy on stage.”

Best known for the single “I Melt with You,” Modern English released its first album in three decades, “Take Me to the Trees,” in 2016. All three bands will play an acoustic set before doors open for those who purchase a special package.

“We do the acoustic songs then, with the main set, we hit them hard, with a lot of energy,” Aston says. “We’re on fire. We’re playing so well. Everything is jelling well for us.”

The three acts are longtime friends who toured together in the 1980s. Peters says when The Alarm arrived in America in that decade, very few in the country experienced punk rock.

“The bands like The Alarm, Simple Minds, U2 and Big Country, we were almost the equivalent of punk in America,” Peters says.

“In 1990, America had its own punk rock when Nirvana came along. Kurt Cobain caused a massive revolution in the country. It gave American bands a voice, which they hadn’t had for a long, long time. Now it’s harder for British bands to come over because America has its own voice. You have the Dave Grohls, the Brandon Flowers and the Eddie Vedders. You have some incredible artists.”

Some British bands feel disrespected, so they do not tour the United States with an open mind, he adds.

“America is painted in a bad light around the world because of cinema and TV, this president,” Peters says. “We’re all the same, though, when we scratch the surface—heart and soul. We’re excited to come to America as a new frontier. I think there are so many opportunities for bands like The Alarm, Modern English and Gene Loves Jezebel to reconnect with audiences and reinspire. I think we can be really proud of who we are.”

Charity first

The “Sigma LXXXV Tour” is also a charitable endeavor. Peters’ Love Hope Strength will host bone marrow drives to find donors for people suffering from blood cancer who need a transplant for a second chance at life. Peters and his wife, Jules, are cancer survivors. She plays keyboards in The Alarm.

The charity has already registered over 200,000 individuals and located about 4,000 potentially lifesaving matches. Visit lovehopestrength.org for more information.

For his charity work, Peters was honored with an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) Award by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace.

“That was something quite out of the blue,” he says. “I wasn’t expecting anything like that. I received a letter from the prime minister’s office asking me to accept the award, which I did.

“I’m not sure why I was picked out of the human tide to step into Buckingham Palace. It was a great day with my wife and kids. We went down together and there was a lot of pomp and circumstance, and history as we walked through the palace halls. I was proud to be there with my family.”

He says Prince Charles put him at ease as he pinned the medal upon him. In the background, however, Coldplay’s “Clocks” was playing.

Peters, who says his health is “great,” has high hopes for the tour. He says fans can expect collaborations, moments of reflection, camaraderie and “the unexpected.”

“The tour will be live on all social media platforms, allowing fans from around the world to see what it’s like for British bands to be on the road in the USA,” Peters says.

“We’ve all got a lot of respect for each other, as our audiences have. I think it’s going to be a special night.”

The Alarm w/Modern English and Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel

Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix, 602.267.1600, celebritytheatre.com, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, $35-$70.