14 Apr 2014

EUROPE at Newcastle City Hall - 4th April 2014

Due to budget cut's within the Council they've closed Newcastle City Pool – and that's a real shame – because as the line winds around the corner for tonight's performance I'm sorry for all those people who never got to experience the rich and vibrant history of the baths. City Hall in Newcastle is arguably the longest standing and most historic venue the city provides, with everyone – and I mean everyone – from Queen to Elton John to Motorhead having played on this stage. The diversification of it's performances mean that in about a month's time I expect to see Michael Bolton on the same stage, but we won't get into that right now!

FM provides tonight’s support, a band with as rich and diverse a history as any other, but one who've been perhaps too ignored by mainstream media. I confess myself to having only listened to them once I heard about their inclusion on this bill and with songs like “Closer To Heaven” and “That Girl” you're unlikely to forget their name any-time soon. As someone who was brought up listening to White Lion, Winger and Warrant this is overblown hair metal sleaze guitar at it's best – and I love it!

Europe have been on something of a reassurance since 2009. Following the phenomenal response to their album 'Last Look At Eden' their music has suddenly found itself more accessible and diverse than ever. The unenlightened will only know them as the band responsible for that “Final Countdown” song but everyone else can see that hits like “Carrie”, “Superstitious” and “Prisoners In Paradise” can only be written by a band like Europe.

Joey Tempest wanders out on stage looking like the cat who got the cream, with a very tight outfit that you're not sure gives him room to breathe, but which excites a number of older woman dedicated enough to force their way into the non existent orchestra pit. With photojournalists doing their job on one hand you've got this hilarious juxtaposition – never thought I'd use that word in a review – of two women holding out roses for Tempest in a declaration of affection.

As the band have only an hour to perform – an old fashioned clock at stage right informs us neatly of that fact – there's little time to stand on ceremony. Songs like “Firebox” and “Not Supposed To Sing The Blues” start the evening with a nice exercise in guitar skill from John Norum and the proof that Europe can still write good songs in the 22nd Century, but it's classics like “Carrie” which get the greatest of responses. “Superstitious” provided an obligatory chance to sample Whitesnake's “Here I Go Again” which provided some excitement for those not expecting it, but the stand out moment has to go to the bands decision to play “Cherokee” - somewhat of a personal favourite of mine – which is the first performance of this track for a few tours.

By the time the band had begun to wind down their set (one which, to be honest, flew by) it was obvious what was to come next. The encore of the night belonged to 'The Final Countdown'; there was an anticipated excitement like no other as keyboardist Mic Michaeli let loose for what is still possibly the greatest keyboard intro in rock and roll history. As the crowds diverged from the venue there was a wonder if the band needed to play that song at all. Europe's amazing performance proved the night had been anything BUT 'The Final Countdown'.

Words: Wayne Madden

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