at Festplassen/Vallset, Norway, Friday June 11, 2004

Testing, testing! The newly reunited Europe is about to tour for the first time in thirteen years, and why not pull off their first gig in the-middle-of-nowhere-Norway, just to be sure old cards still are up their sleeves before they perform their show from more glamorous stages?

It was indeed a bit strange to see a band that has sold more than 10 million records playing their first official full-length gig for thirteen years at this very small outdoor arena, a one and a half hour drive North of Oslo. Back in the eighties, Europe was one of the most successful bands of their genre and time, but suffered a quick and painful death when the grunge wave flooded the scene. Now they are back with their original and very skilled line up, stating that the depression of grunge is long gone dead, and music with a sky-high party factor is more current and desired than ever.

They opened up with “Seven Door Hotel”, their break through hit in Japan from 1983. Joey Tempest on vocals and John Norum on guitar looked like old feuds were all forgotten, which Tempest underlined by kissing Norum’s cheek only minutes into the set. We registered your attitude, Joey!

While “Seven Door Hotel”, “Wings Of Tomorrow”, and “Superstitious” kicked off well (except for some compulsory experimentations from the mixing table), the forth track, “Time Has Come”, was a bit too slow and uninspired. It made me, for some seconds, worry about if the air already had went out of the balloon, but then “Ready Or Not”, punching, pounding, and pumping, immediately after proved me wrong. You know, it’s quite a set list these guys have got. You can’t blame their compositions if they fail to pull off a party.

You can’t blame their talents either. The rhythm section (John Leven and Ian Haugland) is heavier than you would expect from their studio recordings, and Mic Michaeli on keyboards is doing all the right things all the way through. “Sign Of The Times” was one great example. Actually, speaking of keyboards, Europe is one of very few Hard Rock/Metal bands I know that in fact rightly justifies the use of this very “un-rocking” instrument. Michaeli’s works indeed add something good to the band’s hard playing. Bravo!

John Norum could have moved a bit more, but chose to stay at his spot focusing on his guitar playing, which he accomplished to everybody’s satisfaction. He brought the audience all of the mean and heavy riffs and the heartfelt and “close-eyed” solos they expected. In between, Joey Tempest added some acoustic guitar work that was very well produced in the mix. This acoustic guitar also made the intro to one of the evening’s strongest numbers, “Open Your Heart” … one of Tempest’s many unique compositions.

What about Joey’s singing, then? Well, he impresses with tons of self-confidence. He doesn’t miss a note, and his voice sparkles from experience. He believes in everything he does, every word, and from time to time even manages to make semi-popular numbers like “Stormwind” and “Yesterday’s News” sound like big hits that they never were.


None of the guys looked like they had aged a lot since their heydays, and the music sounded surprisingly fit for 2004 as well. Ain’t that good news?! What’s at least news is that they played a brand new song for the first time! “Start From The Dark”, it’s called, and it sounded promising to me … not bad at all. The tune is balladish, but conveyed some very heavy guitar. Great verses, which almost had a progressive rock feel (!), but I’d need to listen to the chorus some more times to be convinced. Yes, we are looking forward, with expectations, to a new album from the guys.

“Start From The Dark” was one of the four encores, and from the set list below you can see the band really had no reason to feel ashamed of what they had to offer for the closure of the night.

There were, of course, drawbacks along the way: For example, too long of breaks between some of the songs (while the stage went dark), and an odd drum solo part where Haugland was playing on top of a recorded guitar improvisation over the “You Really Got Me” riff. Leaving “Ninja”, “Love Chaser” and “Carrie” out of the set was also a bad choice. Still, I find it hard to complain about their track list.

However, Europe is facing a long summer with a lot more people to convince than me. Their timing for a come back might be good right now, so prepare for a blast from the past … and then some!


Seven Doors Hotel
Wings Of Tomorrow
Time Has Come
Ready Or Not
Heart Of Stone
The King Will Return
Scream Of Anger
Sign Of The Times
Guitar Solo
Open Your Heart
Let The Good Times Rock
Yesterday’s News

Rock The Night

Start From The Dark (new song!)
The Final Countdown


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