The European debut album, released in 1983, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. And then the Scandinavian rock legends go on tour to celebrate this musical milestone.
Europe’s show wasn’t just your average live event this time, it was billed as an evening with the band, and with two sets and a start time of 7:30pm to 10:30pm, the event definitely lived up to expectations.
A documentary video shown on a makeshift cinema screen in front of the stage set the stage for the evening ahead. The interviews with each band member were extremely entertaining as the group shared stories from the early days of Europe. Paired with archive images and film footage, it was the perfect start to the evening.
Joey Tempest talked about how they left an early keyboard recording of “The Final Countdown” sitting on the shelf for some time. Can you imagine how different things would have been if the song had never seen the light of day? The band then discussed via video that they initially didn’t all agree on naming the group after a continent, but given their successful 40-year career, that certainly didn’t hurt them.
The “Evening With” format was a great way to celebrate the band’s back catalogue. As the opening documentary came to a close, the curtain fell and the band took the stage to open the show with “On Broken Wings”, “Seven Doors Hotel” from the band’s debut album and the classic “Rock The Night”.
Joey Tempest is the consummate frontman. Often towering over the audience from the stage monitors, engaging fans in songs or tossing his white microphone stand across the stage, the Swedish singer was a delight to watch throughout the evening.
Start From The Dark was an early highlight of the set. With its heavy and somewhat infectious groove coupled with John Norum’s blistering guitar work and impeccable tone, it hits the spot. Likewise, Tempest’s voice was in good shape.
The inclusion of Walk the Earth, from the band’s 2017 release of the same name, updated the group’s career-spanning setlist.
As the show continued, Europe continued to take the packed audience down memory lane. Even for the group, choosing a setlist for a show like this was always an emotional experience. As the band thought back to those points in their career and what each song meant to them.
And even with a 26-song setlist, frontman Joey Tempest joked, “If you don’t hear your favorite song tonight, it’s not my fault – it’s these guys,” as he pointed to his bandmates. But the reality was that Europe left no stone unturned. There was something for everyone.
With the recording of “Hold Your Head Up” the band announced new material, which was not only a catchy number but also showed the musical development of the band and their sound. It was one of those songs that made you want to sing along and clap along, and the audience did just that.
Dreamer temporarily slowed the proceedings. The song showcased Mik Michaeli’s beautiful and complex keyboard playing. The track only featured Mik and Joey on vocals at a beautiful moment in the set.
Rock fans and guitarists in particular consider John Norum to be one of the best in the industry. And his virtuoso playing at Vasastan proved this point perfectly.
The first set raced towards a well-deserved break with a stunning performance from Carrie. But as you can well imagine, there were more anthems from the album “The Final Countdown” in the later part of the evening.
The second movement featured a reduced acoustic interpretation of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. Drummer Ian Haugland recalled lost memories of touring with Def Leppard in the US in 1989. Of course, a rock show wouldn’t be complete without a drum solo, and Ian took advantage of his moment in the spotlight with a dazzling display of drumming against a backdrop of the Wilhelm Tell Overture.
Of course, the mega hits were always featured in the later stages of the show. And what a culmination of an impeccable evening. Tempest gave a nod to a friend of Redcar’s, Whitesnake’s David Coverdale during the main set closer, Superstitious. The frontman added a few bars of “Here I Go Again,” to great effect.
A two-song encore featuring fan favorite Cherkoee and the band’s signature anthem, The Final Countdown, rounded out the evening in the best way possible.
On Thursday night, Europe showed that forty years after the release of their debut album, they are still going strong and show no signs of slowing down.