At the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., September 17, 2018

EUROPE (Live at the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., September 17, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Most big bands have a dynamic centred around the lead singer and guitarist. Take Jagger/Richards, Bono/The Edge, Page/Plant and Tyler/Perry to name but a few. Swedish Rockers too share that trait with Joey Tempest providing the focal point as front man and lead singer while John Norum, his old school friend, his musical foil.

It’s been 32 years since they topped the charts with The Final Countdown and to many Europe started and finished with that one song. Sure, it was an era defining classic that absolutely everyone on planet earth knows and pretty much everyone parps along to the keyboard refrain at the mere mention of the song but Europe are so, so much more than a one off hit single. Since regrouping on Millennium Eve, Europe have delivered six studio albums of an ever-increasing quality culminating in the current release, Walk The Earth, that may well be the best thing they have ever done. It’s made all the more incredible that the same five guys who recorded The Final Countdown are all present and correct to this very day unlike most of their peers who are now down to one or two members of their classic line ups. Europe are indeed a rarity these days.

With Joey Tempest married to a local lass, the Newcastle show always has something of an edge and tonight was no different as a confident, primed Europe kicked right into two songs from their new album, Walk The Earth and The Siege, both big statement pieces setting the bar high before going straight into Rock The Night, early in the set that kept the momentum running high.

Europe has certainly grown in stature and many who have doubted their Rock credentials have been easily won over on hearing such epics as Last Look at Eden, War of Kings and the straight down the line rockers, Firebox and Hole In My Pocket. In fact, it’s a sign of their quality that they were able to leave out killer songs such as Kingdom United and Not Supposed To Sing The Blues and include songs of an equivalent pedigree.

Joey Tempest was in fine voice, looking as if he hadn’t aged a day since the ’80s. never still for a moment, his microphone acrobatics ever a source of entertainment. John Norum on the other hand may be more restrained on stage but his playing was absolutely stunning. Beautifully melodic, technically brilliant and perfectly positioned within the context of the song, always enhancing, never dominating. Norum is one of the best in the business.

With ballads New Love In Town and Carrie giving a balance to the more bombastic songs in the set, Europe pitched their setlist absolutely bang on with plenty of ebbs and flows throughout the night, even dipping right back to 1984 with Scream of Anger from their Wings of Tomorrow album for their older fans.

Of course, the home run featured the crowd pleasing Superstitious, Cherokee and a suitably flamboyant romp through Final Countdown that even the most cynical of Metalheads couldn’t fail to get carried along with.

There may well have been a fair few in the crowd that came along to hear a handful of hits but there is absolutely no doubting that those casual fans would have left the Academy as new converts as Europe reinforced their reputation as a cracking live band.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • 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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