At O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., November 25, 2012

Having a single that pretty much defined a decade could have been an albatross around the neck of a lesser band, yet Europe have not only survived the ’80s but have come out the other side fitter, leaner and hungrier than ever.  Since reuniting 10 years ago Europe have released four studio albums, each stronger than the last culminating with this year’s Bag of Bones, which may well be the best of their career.

Live, Europe are a real force to be reckoned with and are a far cry from their ill-founded reputation as fluffy Pop Rockers with a sound more attune with Classic Rock titans Deep Purple (the David Coverdale fronted Mk III in particular), Thin Lizzy and UFO than any of the ’80s Hair Metal wannabes.  Europe nailed their rock credentials squarely to the mast when they headlined the heavyweight Bloodstock Metal Festival a couple of years back where they were widely tipped to crash and burn but instead produced the show of the festival gaining a whole legion of new fans along the way.  How did they do this?  Great songs combined with a passion soaked, high energy performance by musicians at the top of their game and it was now Newcastle’s turn to see just what a classy live band they are.


Clearly basking in the universal acclaim heaped on their latest album, Europe played over half of the Bag of Bones release with the real highlight being the smouldering groove of “Not Supposed To Sing The Blues” and the hard driving set opener “Riches To Rags”.

With the bulk of the set featuring material from their most recent albums there was barely a dip in quality.  The majestic “Last Look At Eden” and a ferocious “The Beast” hit the mark perfectly.  Fans of the ’80s weren’t forgotten though with a stomping “Superstitious” and a show stopping acoustic run through “Open Your Heart” to keep them happy as well as some prime vintage Europe including “Scream Of Anger” from 1984’s Wings Of Tomorrow album. There was something for everyone.

Joey Tempest was the complete frontman, charismatic, energetic and with a voice that seems to have bettered with age.  His sidekick and long-time school friend John Norum gave a master class on the guitar showing a grasp of melody and stunning technique that few can match.

With the anthemic “Rock The Night” and the inevitable “The Final Countdown” bringing the show to a rousing end, few could fail to get caught up in the atmosphere. On the radio it might seem like a cheesy Pop song to some but on stage it takes on an altogether different persona.  Whatever your view, it is an irresistible, timeless Rock classic that remains something of an anomaly amongst the rest of Europe’s altogether harder rocking material.


Few bands from the ’80s can claim to have been reinvigorated to the same extent as Europe yet they are simply looking and sounding better than ever.  For any cynics out there that made it to the show there’s one thing that can be guaranteed, that they left with a very different opinion of the band than when they arrived and in the process may well have  discovered one of the best live bands around.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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