at City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., April 4, 2014

Europe frontman Joey Tempest dubbed this tour “The Main Event” in the months leading up to the shows and as Newcastle City Hall was the first of those to sell out, it looked like he wasn’t too far off the mark.

With the doors opening a matter of minutes earlier, fans were still filing into the hall as FM hit the stage at the rather early starting time of 7:00pm. FM made the most of their short spot on stage with “I Belong To The Night” and “That Girl” from their 1986 debut Indiscreet still sounding fresh as Steve Overland’s soulful voice caressed and soothed. “Crosstown Train” from their latest Rockville release showed that there’s plenty of ideas left in the band although the set could have done with the anthemic “Bad Luck” which was puzzlingly absent from the set.


To many, Europe start and end with “The Final Countdown” but making a judgement based on that one song does a great disservice to a band who have grown and matured into a quality Hard Rock band in the three decades or so since that hit the top of the charts.

Europe managed to cover a lot of ground into their hour on stage with cuts from their latest excellent Bag of Bones release “Riches To Rags” and “Firebox” showing the faith they have in their new music. “Superstitious” and “Sign of the Times” from their mid period kept the momentum flowing while a surprise “Scream in Anger” from their early years rocked hard and fast. The title track of their Last Look At Eden album perhaps personifies the modern Europe sound with its menacing, brooding riff and big, dramatic chorus giving it a real epic feel.

EuropeMusically Europe have more in common with the classic Rock giants of Deep Purple, UFO and Thin Lizzy than any of their Hair Metal contemporaries and that is down in many ways to the exemplarity musicianship in the band. Guitarist John Norum has the flash and the melody needed to shine putting him right up there with the Michael Schenker’s of this world while the rhythm section is as tight as any and showed why Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes poached them in the ’90’s for his solo band. Joey Tempest however, is the ring master. Still in possession of a fine voice, his charisma and showmanship bring the songs to life while battering his microphone stand to within an inch of its life.

Of course they played the hits, “Carrie”, “Rock The Night” and what else but “The Final Countdown” and just for good measure they threw in the rarely played “Cherokee” from the same album.


Europe gave their all, yet the Newcastle crowd seemed a little timid, maybe it’s an age thing but aren’t you supposed to stand and sing at a Rock show? It’s wasn’t until the hits came out that the crowd seemed to respond which was a shame as Europe were hugely impressive on their first return to the City Hall since early 1990’s.

Maybe the majority of the crowd were here to see Foreigner, after all they, along with Journey, really are the crown jewels of Melodic Rock, AOR, Corporate Rock or whatever tag is deemed appropriate these days.

ForeignerLead singer Kelly Hansen has fronted Foreigner for nigh on a decade now and although the shadow of original singer, Lou Gramm, looms large Hansen’s incredible voice and hugely charismatic personality makes him the ideal fit for the band. Imagine Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler with Lou Gramm’s voice then you wouldn’t be too far off the mark. In fact Hansen ensured the crowd were up and dancing during “Cold As Ice” as he clambered out into the middle of the hall over the backs of the seats. That’s one way to get the party started.

For the first four songs, founder member Mick Jones was absent. Perhaps at almost 70 he needs to pace himself from the vigour’s of the road but when he did join the show for “Feels Like The First Time” he looked radiant and well.

Jones may well be the only original member, but as someone who has produced Billy Joel, written with Eric Clapton and played on the same bill as The Beatles, his address book must be crammed with suitable candidates. Joined by former Dokken/Dio bassist Jeff Pilson ensured plenty of power to the bottom end while Thom Gimbel has shared the stage with Jones for well over two decades now. Gimbel is as essential to Foreigners sound as Jones and Hansen with a versatility that is evidenced by the impressive array of instruments he plays from flute, guitar, keyboards and backing vocals but when he straps on the saxophone for the hugely Funky “Urgent” there isn’t a person in the house who doesn’t wish that they could rasp and squeal on a sax like that.


“Waiting For A Girl Like You” and I Want To Know What Love Is” complete with accompaniment from the massed City Hall choir, kept lovers of the power ballad happy. For those of a rockier disposition “Juke Box Hero” and Hot Blooded” made sure that they were well catered for. It was however, the lesser known “Starrider”, with Mick Jones on lead vocals with it’s almost King Crimson like Progressive Rock arrangement and stirring harmony vocals that impressed the most.

After three bands and almost four hours of entertainment, it looks as though Joey Tempest was bang on, this was indeed the main event and with any luck one that will return to the region sooner rather than later.


  • 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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