Live Reviews : Europe @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney 22/05/2018
Simple fact – Europe rock! Through a career that has been in some ways created by, and in some ways chained to ‘that song’ Europe have doggedly forged ahead, preserving a strong emphasis on credibility. With a batch of thumping classic hard rocking tunes that have at times surprised with their gusto, they’ve gained the type of loyal audience that it takes for any band to maintain relevancy in a 30+ year career.
The ‘Walk the Earth’ tour is a title that should obviously be taken literally as it finds them visiting the far-flung reaches of the planet, including the first-ever visit to Australia. It appears they intend to make up for lost time as they come brandishing a mammoth 25+ song setlist that leaves no doubt of their fierce chops and continued stature at the top of the pile of a new generation of classic rock bands.
Old heads and younger converts mingle excitedly in the fullish and familiar surroundings of the Enmore Theatre and as the band hit the stage to the heavy stomp of new album title track ‘Walk the Earth’ and it’s opening partner ‘The Siege’ there is a veritable crunch and gravity to their sound, this is a belting band with something to prove. The irresistible riff and sing along of ‘Rock the Night’ comes with a nod to locals with a segue into ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and as ‘Scream of Anger’, ‘Danger on the Track’ and ‘Firebox’ make a forceful impact it is clear this is a band with serious intent.
Not the fluffy haired pop rock that some uninitiated may expect, the Europe of today is a honed and heavy classic rock beast with more in common with a ‘Kasmir’ totting Led Zep than an 80’s Bon Jovi type sing along. This hammer of the god’s approach has been the making of the band, they have increasingly embraced a 70’s aesthetic with songs that draw a direct line to bands like UFO and Deep Purple, and hold them in good stead, proving them to be one of the historically substantial bands they are becoming.
Joey Tempest shows himself as a charismatic, earnest and engaging frontman, a pounding rhythm section, the underated keys are a strong component and John Norum is fucking sensational as virtuoso guitar. Killer tone and scorching on a succession of classic wood, Norum has long been considered a top-notch player and tonight reinforces this with his blistering fretwork.
To list all the tracks of such a vast set would seem redundant, suffice to say in the two and a half hour set all the key songs and more are aired allowing them to also delve into some of the deeper album tracks that display their heft and showcase their substantial abilities. Since reforming after a break from active duty during most of the ’90’s the band has released a brace of albums that have increasingly built upon their earlier material and it is here that the real gold is to be found. Songs like ‘Last Look at Eden’, ‘Turn to Dust’, ‘Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and ‘War of Kings’ amongst others are classics for the ages and show a band at the height of their powers with a future that will be worth following. Having said that any band that can pull out timeless tunes like ‘Superstitious’, ‘Open Your Heart’, ‘Prisoners in Paradise’ and the surprising inclusion of deep, deep tracks like ‘Stormwind’ and ‘Seven Doors Hotel’ show a band that really has had ‘it’ from the very beginning. And then shit, they go and hit you with ‘Carrie’ and ‘Cherokee’ as if to underline the fact that they’ve got fucking great songs for days.
The set has had to be split into two with a break in the middle to give everyone a breather and to take in the weight of such an impressive performance, this band has a talent pool the size of a rather large continent. No need for an opening act, just a night of undiluted Europe, all killer no filler and Joey’s winning smile. ‘Girl From Lebanon’, ‘Heart of Stone’ and ‘Let the Good Times Rock’ and others blast by, all solid, all hooky as hell and all essential elements of an imperious display by a sometimes underestimated band.
Encore time gives us the catchy bounce of the aforementioned ‘Cherokee’ and of course the only possible way to bring this set to its logical conclusion is the undeniable keyboard hook and sing along pomp of ‘that song’, the world-conquering mega-hit ‘The Final Countdown’. Never their greatest song but the signature for a fun catchy pop/rock tune that has effortlessly connected with billions and is a serious contender for the guilty pleasure of the last millennium.
So, a consummate performance from a band that has been nailing it for decades and it appears will continue to do so for years to come. The halls and pillars of classic rock are in very safe hands indeed. Europe rocked the night.