On Saturday night Swedish hitmakers Europe stormed through a spirited 90-minute set to a heaving Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The band, and more specifically, lead singer Joey Tempest had the audience in the palms of their hands from the opening strains of Last Look At Eden, the title track of their latest album, right through to the inevitable encore of The Final Countdown.
In between they covered the bulk of their career, thankfully ignoring their mostly dire debut, but reaching back to sophomore effort Wings of Tomorrow for Scream of Anger early on, while their other essential hits (Rock the Night, Carrie, Superstitious) were scattered with precision throughout an intelligent set. The setlist was largely dominated by material from the band’s two most recent efforts, with 3 songs featured from 2006s Secret Society and three more from Last Look at Eden; conversely only the title track from the first post-reformation album Start From the Dark got a look in, and only two tracks were featured from my personal favourite, Out of This World. It has to be said the newer material emitted almost as strong a response from the audience as any of the old songs, particularly the Eden material – and why not? It’s first rate.
Possibly because the show was being filmed for future DVD release there were a large number of hardcore fans in attendance who had made the trip across from the continent – indeed, barely a word of English could be heard on the ground floor before the show began.
The show was paced fairly relentlessly, with only perennial power-ballad Carrie and new track New Love in Town (inspired by the birth of Joey’s son Jamie) allowing the audience time for breath. Joey Tempest’s powerhouse vocals dominated the night, but a drum solo and guitarist John Norum’s brilliant performance of Gary Moore’s The Loner, played in tribute to the recently fallen guitar hero, gave him a couple of breaks and allowed the other band members room to show off their considerable chops.
More (from any era) would have been welcome, but this was a consummate performance by a skilled band, and demonstrated that they were and remain so much more than that song, even if it will be their perpetual calling card/closing number for all time. If as to prove this, they began the encore with an as-yet unrecorded song, Doghouse, before that big keyboard riff sent out its shockwaves.
Hopefully the filming will do the gig justice, but only time will tell. There didn’t seem to be many cameras in attendance; I only spotted one actually roaming the stage, with the rest behind the audience,so the end result may be a bit of a static affair visually. But it was a cracking gig, and all things being equal the DVD will be highly recommended.