November 16 2016, Zurich
Review and photos my Micki Curti
Swedish band Europe has completed again a successful Tour. This time the five Acclaimed Scandinavian musicians accomplished their mission to celebrate in style with fans their 30th anniversary Tour of THE FINAL COUNTDOWN, the album from 1986 that officially sealed their world success. The anniversary tour started on November 8th in Stockholm, Sweden, kicking off the celebration in their hometown Stockholm, where it all started 32 years ago. The concert was sold out. Then the tour proceeded on November 10 in Bruxelles, Belgium, November 11 Koln Germany, November 12 London which was sold out and recorded for a future live DVD. On November 14 the band played in Utrecht, Netherlands, November 15th Paris, November 16th Zurich and November 17 Lausanne, Switzerland, November 19th Rome and November 20th Milan Italy ( also sold out), November 22nd Barcellona and November 23rd Madrid Spain ( sold out as well) . There was supposed to be a Kiev concert, which the band was really looking forward to playing, according to a message on their social media outlets, but it got unfortunately cancelled. I had met Ian this past February and he had told me of this planned tour and celebration, pretty much in the same days of the official announcement: therefore I had to make due to an accurate follow up to share this event with all of you. So I did, I attended the concert in Zurich, Lausanne, Switzerland, Milan and Rome Italy. The Photos are from the concert in Zurich on November 16th.
One element that truly made this tour one of a kind, was the playing the latest album WAR OF KINGS in its entirety and the rendition of the album whose 30th anniversary was this year “ the Final countdown”, which was also played in its entirety. As the lead singer Joey Tempest announced at the starts of concerts,“ it is something we have never done before and that we will not do again”, that is to play THE FINAL COUNTDOWN and WAR OF KINGS entirely. Band members John Norum , guitarist, Joey Tempest, lead singer, Mic Michaeli, keyboards and Ian Haugland on drums let the world listen to their entire albums just this once, making it a very special occasion for their supporters. Songs like “Heart of Stone”, “ Ninja”, “ Love Chaser” were always on young fans LP players, along with the famous tunes “ The Final Countdown”, “ Cherokee”, “Rock the Night” and “ Carrie” but many of these songs had not been played since that tour in 1986-1987. Many fans had not listened to some songs since that tour in 1986-1987. For many fans in their early 40’s now, these were songs that they had never listened live, in many circumstances due to simply being too young back then to attend a live concert. When researching old set lists from the 1986-1987 tour, lists taken from the USA tours had a mysterious, un-typed 13th song. When looking at this list and comparing it to the album list, the one missing was “ On the loose”. With this missing piece of history, one can state that only a few countries on that tour in 1986 , including Sweden, were able to listen back then to the full Album set list from “ the Final Countdown”, making this tour in 2016 a clearly irreplaceable time for their supporters.
When the concert started, it began with “ War of Kings” jolt of energy “ Hole in my Pocket”. The rhythmic power of this song is an outstanding gem that the band has offered before but that never ceases to capture. “ Nothing to Ya” has their own nieche of super faithful fans following, among the already faithful following and caused a higher realm of arms in the air. “ Days of rock’n roll”, the modern day fanfare continued to grab the audience in dancing and rocking away. “ War of Kings” and “ Second Day” projected more energy among fans with an ever energized Joey Tempest and a fired up John Norum, showing how it is done. “Vasastan”,“ Children of the Mind”,“ Angels with Broken Hearts” “ California 405”, “Light it Up and “ Rainbow Bridge” were among the songs never played at all before which brought the audience in a status of participated emotion, since there was truly no other live to be compared to before, prior to this tour.
Between John Norum’s magic and strong flights of guitar, Joey’s vocal power, Mic’s atmosphere-enriching intros and a cohesive, seamless fraternal energy among all the band members and instruments, the live concerts of this tour were in fact un-replaceable pieces of history. Nothing was left unplanned and due to the absolute uniqueness of the occasion, every stage detail was carefully tailored by the highly professional Europe crew, to let the band deliver those memories . After the whole set list from WAR OF KINGS, the screen projected a return back in time video and showed images evoking an old computer and an ancient countdown, with a message on this old 80’s style computer, looking like a Commodore 64, that read a very warm thank you message from the band to listeners for these 30 years. All this unfolded while the still apocalyptic notes of “the Final Countdown” were starting.
Fans in the audience were projected to their younger years, their sacred 80’s and most of all down memory lane. Everyone to this day, younger or older, metal and rock fan or not, sings to “the Final Countdown” and many more fans proved to be faithful to the musical repertoire that Europe has produced until now, by singing and rocking vividly at all songs. One fan in the Lausanne show even brought blue-light blinking 80’s glasses to further the 80’s ambiance. In songs like “ Heart of Stone”, “ Love Chaser”, “ Ninja”,“ On the Loose” and “ Time has come” John Norum lead the band in a powerful return to those riffs, riffs that know no time or limits. The fact they had not been played in so long cut the atmosphere in a way that was tangible for all of us there to feel. The band brought on their un-parallel high power presence and while all songs provided a overflowing stream of energy among the audiences, there were certain songs that seemed to simply stop time for a moment.
During the songs from THE FINAL COUNTDOWN, in the amazed and captured audience moments, images of the band touring in the 80’s, fire, smoke effects and outstanding lightning accompanied the whole atmosphere to make us feel again at a 1986 gig. Norum and Tempest embraced the stage holding the audience down to those years and letting them know those guitar momentums are not over yet. And the audience reacted tenfold loving those riffs and those tunes again, singing at every note and word, as if no year has passed. If this did not create a “ big enough wow”, effect, the band furthered this gratefulness by giving homage to all faithful fans from those years by projecting a few photos taken with some of them during the 80’s and I became aware of several of these fans actually being present at the concerts of the tour. For many people, the song “ The Final Countdown” with those catchy initial apocalyptic keyboard notes that Mic came up with one day and Joey built upon, became a song we all sing to this day and we have all been riffing to with our guitars for 30 years and beyond. I spoke with fans that were at the Anniversary concert and many of them told me that they “ were too young back then to attend this particular Albums’ tour and listening to these songs finally live finally filled a musical void in them”. One gentleman from Ireland told me he now has seen many Europe gigs but this held a special spot in his music memories, since back in 1986 when he was 12 years old, his older cousin Paul did not agree to bring him to the concert. I am certain many of Europe supporters born in the mid 70’s can relate to this story and I know for sure I can. Overall fans from all ages appeared in absolute joy to be able to attend such a one–of-a-kind event. The audience had young, younger, older and not so old fans, children of fans, every age of listener represented, all captured by these tunes. Many traveled from far away to attend one, two or more concerts of the celebration tour, especially if their home country was not included in the tour dates but not only limited by that.
Supporters to the band flew in from the Japan, the USA, the UK, Ireland, Spain, the Czech republic, Taiwan, Italy, Germany and more countries were in attendance at one or more of these concerts, in support to the band and celebrating the 30th anniversary to a song from an album that intermingled beginnings and “ countdowns”, weddings, mixed life circumstances, the Geico commercial and definitely in every radio station and every music hall around the world. The two set lists were, in the end ,a great success in the crowd, proving a Joey Tempest in top vocal shape, John Norum with an ever growing outstanding guitar presence, the Maestro Mic Michaeli linking songs magically, a powerful Ian Haugland at the drums and John Leven masterfully offering a precise, soft but assertive base. The band showed the world they are now indeed in their 50’s but still playing skillfully, roaring in energy and with endless creativity. The images of them young proved they were indeed in the 80’s with spandex, tight pants and big hair but the high quality music and a talent they had back then has been simply amplified to the 100th level and it showed on this tour.
Songs were as majestic as ever, maybe also due by the fact that for so many of us, the older tunes had only played in our stereos, never live. Lead singer Joey seemed to impress upon us that yes they were indeed here to bring energy to audiences everywhere, grateful for 30 years and with a presence that communicated “ there will be many more years to come”. Since there was already a 30th anniversary concert tour for the band’s first 30 years of career in 2014, now a 30 years anniversary tour to “the Final Countdown” album, we sincerely count on this to be the start of a musical tradition, at every Europe’s album anniversary. When I told Ian this after the Zurich concert, he smiled and said “ how many years old will I be in 30 years? Never too old for great music…never too old.
1. War of Kings
2. Hole in My Pocket
3. The Second Day
4. Praise You
5. Nothin’ to Ya
6. California 405
7. Angels (With Broken Hearts)
8. Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll
9. Children of the Mind
10. Rainbow Bridge
12. Light It Up
13. War of Kings
14. The Final Countdown
15. Rock the Night
17. Danger on the Track
20. Time Has Come
21. Heart of Stone
22. On the Loose
23. Love Chaser
24. Snippet of “ The Final Countdown”