Bristol Academy
24th February 2010

I first saw Europe 24 years ago, on the tour for their phenomenally successful “Final Countdown” album. I still remember it well, travelling to London and being blown away by the sheer volume of a band that were supposed to be fluffy pop with a few guitars. The next week, Kerrang! Magazine headed their review with the immortal “Europe In ‘Louder Than Motorhead’ Shock!”. It was good, and I’m sort of baffled that it’s taken me all this time to see them again, although I’m betting they’ve aged better than I have…

There’s plenty in tonight, and if the Academy isn’t sold out it’s close enough for it not to matter. People are hanging off of the stairs and lining the balconies to welcome our Swedish friends, and also their British friends Diamond Head. My own experience of the NWOBHM legends is rather limited, in that I know “I Am Evil” and think Rodney Matthews’ cover to “Borrowed Time” is awesome. I also know that the only original band member is guitarist Brian Tatler, but as I’m not a purist it doesn’t matter much to me. Diamond Head certainly don’t pull their punches, happy to throw out plenty of retro tracks from their 1980 debut “Lightning To The Nations”. Although they do sound dated, it’s not really in a bad way, and it’s no surprise that they are still a going concern. Vocalist Nick Tart (love the name) does a really great job, showcasing a strong voice and good stage presence that should endear him to even the most ardent Sean Harris supporter. He seems a good choice of replacement, especially when “Alimony”, from his first album with the band in 2005, fits like a glove with the older material. Tatler himself is content to stay on his side of the stage and let his impressive fretwork do the talking, as the set builds towards the moment that casual listeners like me are looking forward to. Yes, they unsurprisingly save it until the end, but “Am I Evil” is still a monster track, dripping in menace and melody, power and passion. The reception is predictably enthusiastic, and Diamond Head leave the stage to much applause and devil horns.

As we wait for the roadies to do their roadie thing, we giggle at some of the older ladies who are still gamely trying to dress like they did 25 years ago, many coming across like members of Poison after a night on the cocaine. Okay, so some people can carry it off, but growing old with dignity is generally left to those on the stage tonight, and they have certainly worn the years with ease. Take Joey Tempest, who bounds out for opener “Last Look At Eden” like he’s twenty years old. Full of energy, fit and professional, Tempest sounds as good as he ever did, looking like he’s still enjoying the job he was born for. The sound is absolutely perfect, allowing each instrument to share equal spotlight with the vocals. The set list is understandably strong, and we’re treated to “Love Is Not the Enemy” before “Superstitious” is supplemented in the middle by a short burst of “Since You’ve Been Gone” that gets everyone singing along. There’s a few oldies on show as well, with “Scream Of Anger” from “Wings Of Tomorrow” and the bands first song “Seven Doors Hotel” both getting a welcome airing. Of course, there’s a few songs from the well received “Last Look At Eden” album: “No Stone Unturned” is bolstered by Mic Michaeli’s brilliant keyboards, “New Love In Town” is even better live than on the CD, and “The Beast” shows that the Europe of 2010 can let loose with some seriously hard rock when they want to.

Although Tempest is most people’s focal point, it’s fair to say the rest of the band are no slouches either. John Norum has always been a top rated guitarist, and there’s plenty of guitar freaks in the crowd joyfully watching his fingers fly over the fretboard with apparent ease. Ian Haugland gives real meat to the performance with some impressive drumming and the whole thing is kept together by the ever dependable bass of John Leven. There’s a cool instrumental about half way through that allows all four musicians to shine through as Tempest gets a break. The temp is also slowed down for that wettest of wet ballads, “Carrie”, which is performed (for the most part) acoustically with much singing along by the crowd. Like Diamong Head, Europe save the best known song until the very end, as the parptastic “Final Countdown” closes the set and sends everyone home happy. From my hazy memories of 1986, I’d have to say that Europe of 2010 are not as good - they’re better in every way. For eleven examples, visit

Review and photos Alan Holloway
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