By Terry Duffy
Spirit of the '80s returns to Academy Park in Lewiston on Saturday, Aug. 4. The Lewiston-Porter Class of 1987-born concert series revisits the era when heavy metal, punk rock, hardcore and hip-hop achieved increased crossover success in the mainstream.
For 2018, Organizer Mike Hanrahan is forecasting a "bigger and better" Spirit of the '80s. Headlining will be Welsh musician Mike Peters, lead singer for The Alarm, who is including Lewiston on a 23-city North American tour in promotion of the new album "Equals" (out June 29). Also taking the stage for the evening show will be the band Desire, one of Canada's premier U2 tribute bands; and Dead Letter Office, a Spirit of the '80s favorite last year when the event was held at Somewhere.
Now in its seventh year, Spirit of the '80s has taken place at in Academy Park and at Artpark. Since its origin, this concert series has hosted Toronto DJ Don Berns of CFNY radio, new-wave bands The Spoons, The Mirrors and Images in Vogue, and British legend The English Beat and Dave Wakeling.
Hanrahan said this annual concert started off as a class reunion and continues to grow in stature and also purpose.
"(It) has now become a much-anticipated yearly event," he said. "Bringing the music we grew up on live to a stage in the middle of a small village is no easy task. We are a small group of volunteers who self fund this, and we cover all of the upfront costs ourselves."
As planning continues, Hanrahan said organizing and paying for an event of this caliber remains one of the biggest challenges for his all-volunteer group.
"We are self-funded and we are always blown away with the help and support we get every year," he said. "People often ask me 'How can I help?' While every year has been successful, our biggest challenge is now in the months beforehand. Upfront costs such as advertising, stage and tent rental, and permits and fees are our biggest challenge."
Why? "We do it for our love of music and the community," Hanrahan said.
Proceeds from past Spirit of the '80s shows have gone to benefit Lewiston-Porter music programs and scholarships for area students. Funds from this year's concert will go toward cancer research.
"This event will be raising money for Love Hope Strength foundation, the rock 'n' roll cancer foundation, which helps support cancer research and also getting people to become bone marrow donors," Hanrahan said.
Donations for the concert are now being accepted. Visit the Michael Hanrahan page on Facebook for additional details.
Tickets for this year's Aug. 4 are expected to be available in coming days. In the meantime, Hanrahan announced a Spirit of the '80s kickoff party will take place starting at 9 p.m. Friday May 11, at the Lewiston Events Center. The event is open to the public and will feature '80s musical favorites. For more information, visit the Spirit of the '80s Facebook page.
Alarm front man Mike Peters a two-time cancer survivor
By Michelle Hosie
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
In 2007, The Alarm frontman Mike Peters hosted the world's highest concert at the base camp of Mount Everest. More than 3 million people watched online and the event was recorded for the MTV documentary "Everest Rocks."
At the time, Peters was a two-time cancer survivor. The event raised funds and awareness via the Love Hope Strength Foundation, founded by Peters and fellow blood cancer survivor James Chippendale. Over the next decade, several prominent musicians and celebrities joined the effort to bring the message of love, hope and strength through concerts at some of the highest points on earth, including Mount Fuji, Mount Kilimanjaro and atop the Empire State building.
The story of Mike Peters, The Alarm, the LHS Foundation and Peters' third battle with cancer is chronicled in the documentary "Man in the Camo Jacket." The title refers to the combat fatigues worn as he fought for his life. In the film, which can be viewed on iTunes and Amazon Video, audiences learn Peters' wife, Jules, keyboard player for The Alarm, also dealt with her own cancer diagnosis. Mike and Jules are both healthy now and are playing sold-out shows all over the U.S., U.K. and Europe. The Alarm's new album will be released globally on June 29.
Spirit of the '80s Executive Producer Mike Hanrahan is bringing the world's leading rock 'n' roll cancer foundation to Lewiston. On Aug. 4, Mike Peters and The Alarm will take the stage at Academy Park. Funds will be raised for the Love Hope Strength Foundation, whose mission is to "save lives, one concert at a time." The organization's mission states, "We believe that all people deserve quality cancer care, a marrow donor if needed, and most importantly, hope."
Founded by cancer survivors, LHS leverages the power of music to expand the marrow registry through its "Get on the List" campaign.
Spirit of the '80s will host a marrow donor drive at the concert.
For more information, visit TheSpiritOfThe80sReunion on Facebook.
Pre-sale tickets can be purchased through sot80s.BrownPaperTickets.com and at Lewiston Music.