New Wave bands of the early 1980s could be considered the light infantry divisions of the Second British invasion, storming American shores some 20-plus years after The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds and others comprised the first wave of the musical attack. On Saturday, three of those divisions, The Fixx, The English Beat and The Alarm, will stage a mini-invasion in the Celebrity Showroom at John Ascuaga’s Nugget as part of their “Rockin’ The Colonies” tour.
The Alarm has just released a new album, “Guerilla Tactics,” which music writer Phil Rainone of www.jerseybeat.com describes as “lyrically subtle, shining with muscular finesse, and combining the past, present, and future, this is an impressive Alarm album.” According to Rainone, one of the centerpieces of the 15-song album is the song “Love, Hope, and Strength.” Besides having a heaping share of echoed guitars, sweeping vocals, and bluesy harmonica slices, Rainone wrote, the song is also the name of lead singer Mike Peter’s own cancer charity, Lovehopestrength-.org. Peters was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006, and, with chemotherapy, has been in remission. “Guerilla Tactics” is available to purchase as a digital download at the band’s Web site, www.thealarm.com.
The Alarm had its heyday in the early-’80s opening for such mega stars as U2 and Bob Dylan. The band’s mostly acoustic, folk-punk sound provided a counterpoint to their hard-driving guitar rockers The Clash and other punkers, though The Alarm’s stage look was unquestionably a product of the ‘80s, with enormous spiked-up hair accompanying a cowboy/old-time cavalry wardrobe. It served them well, with more than 5 million sales worldwide and 16 Top-50 UK singles. Peters has continued the band’s name with a new lineup of musicians and normal hair.
“I think we’re responsible for the hole in the ozone layer with all the hairspray we used,” Peters recently told the Washington Post. “I’m glad I don’t have to run out to the Target store every day on tour to stock up. I’m glad that part’s over. But it was a fantastic time; the ‘80s were great to The Alarm. But then the ‘90s came along and Nirvana blew us all out of the water.”
Joining The Alarm on Saturday will be The Fixx, a London-based new wave group that managed to sustain a successful career in America for several years in the mid-’80s. The Fixx always flirted with the mainstream with catchy, keyboard-driven pop. The album Reach the Beach, released in 1983, established them as a hit-making force in the United States with the easily recognizable song “One Thing Leads to Another,” which became a No. 4 hit, sending the album into the Top 10. Reach the Beach would go platinum by the end of the year, launching two more Top 40 singles that ‘80s die-hards will know: “Saved by Zero” and “Sign of Fire.”
Rounding out the “Rockin’ the Colonies” show is The English Beat (simply as The Beat in the UK). Allmusic.com describes The English Beat as a band whose songs fuse ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock, and their lyrics deal with themes of love, unity and socio-political topics. The band was formed in Birmingham, England in 1978, during a period of high unemployment and social-political upheaval in the UK. The Beat released three albums: “I Just Can’t Stop It” (1980), “Wha’ppen” (1981) and “Special Beat Service” (1982). Those of us who are less analytical with music will simply remember The English Beat for songs like “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Stand Down Margaret,” “Too Nice To Talk To” and “Hands off She’s Mine.”
The “Rockin’ the Colonies” tour has been hitting clubs all around the country and will stop in northern Nevada for just one night, Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Nugget’s Celebrity Showroom. All tickets are $30 general admission and are available by calling (800) 648-1177 or 356-3300 or by visiting janugget.com.