REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
Swedish hard rockers Europe return once again to Finland. This time the band performed in Osla Festival in Porvoo. The festival line up consisted of mostly pop and cover/party bands but Finnish metal cello quartet Apocalyptica was also on the bill there. Europe was headlining and it seems that the band still enjoys a strong following in Finland. The band’s latest opus BAG OF BONES was released in the spring. The album has been critically acclaimed and commercially it’s been their most successful release since their rebirth in 2003. Even though it was raining, there were approximately 3000 people in the audience when Europe finally took the stage at 10:00 PM.
The set opened up with a string of BAG OF BONES tracks. “Riches to Rags”, the new single “Not Supposed to Sing the Blues” and “Firebox” followed each other without any unnecessary breaks. Vocalist Joey Tempest was running across the stage and fronted the show with style. The band sounded surprisingly heavy but there was lot of blues present as well. The new album material has been described as the heavy blues album and that’s exactly how the band now sounded on stage. The new album material might not be all well known for the majority, but the super catchy OUT OF THIS WORLD – album track “Superstitious” definitely bring some breath of life in the audience.
Next the band presented its heavier side with early WINGS OF TOMORROW classic “Scream of Anger”. John Norum clearly did enjoy playing this one. His old school playing and guitar shredding was great to watch and listen there and it was also good to see Tempest to play electric guitar. Tempest kept a brief promotional speech about BAG OF BONES prior to “Demon Head”. It was both funny and also sad to notice that it was a totally new thing for many to learn that there’s a new Europe album out there. Well, that’s how the music business seems to work nowadays … “Seventh Sign”, “Girl from Lebanon” and “Let the Good Times Roll” proved again the strength of the good old days.
Nevertheless there’s one album in Europe’s catalogue which is and will always be above the rest. No matter if the band agrees with it or not, but the fact is that without THE FINAL COUNTDOWN they probably would not be around anymore. It wasn’t any surprise that “Carrie”, “Rock the Night” and at latest the epic title track finally woke up otherwise sleepy audience.
As a whole, this was really strong performance by the band. Musically they are on the top of their game. Joey Tempest is a hard working front man who now in his slightly older age does look and sound more and more like David Coverdale. (That was meant to be a positive comment) John Norum has a great sense of melody and is a world class guitarist that can handle a variety of musical styles. In guitar playing, he now sounds like a great mix of Michael Schenker, Ritchie Blackmore and Gary Moore. The rhythm section drummer Ian Haugland and bassist John Leven stayed more in the background but played extremely tightly through the set whereas keyboardist Mic Michael spiced up the whole thing with his tasty playing. The bands current more toned town outward style suits great for them and it’s more representative of the band contemporary heavy/bluesy musical diction.
The set list was understandably built around the newer material. Altogether four songs were played from BAG OF BONES, also four from the previous LAST LOOK AT EDEN, one from SECRET SOCIETY and the rest was a collection of bands biggest hits from the 80’s/early 90’s. It was a little disappointing when there was only one song, “Scream of Anger”, included from the band’s first two albums. Also nothing was played from the re-union album START FROM THE DARK but you can’t get everything at one time, right?
This was a festival performance but however… it was a bit annoying when band was doing its best on stage for over 90 minutes and the majority of the people only cheer for a handful of tracks. Hopefully things will be different when band returns to Finland for its own headlining tour on late fall.
Riches to Rags
Not Supposed to Sing the Blues
Scream of Anger
No Stone Unturned
New Love in Town
Love is Not the Enemy
Girl from Lebanon
Let the Good Times Rock
Rock the Night (with snippets of “Woman From … more)
Last Look at Eden
The Final Countdown
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