REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
Swedish hard rockers in Europe return once again to Finland. This time the band performed at Osla Festival in Porvoo. The festival lineup consisted of mostly pop and cover/party bands, but the Finnish metal cello quartet Apocalyptica was also on the bill. 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 a 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 brings some breath of life to 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 type of playing and guitar shredding was great to watch and listen to there, and it was also good to see Tempest playing electric guitar. Tempest kept a brief promotional speech about BAG OF BONES before “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 the strength of the good old days again.
Nevertheless, there’s one album in Europe’s catalog that will always be above the rest. Whether the band agrees with it or not, 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 the epic title track finally woke up an otherwise sleepy audience.
As a whole, this was a solid performance by the band. Musically they are on the top of their game. Joey Tempest is a hard-working frontman who, now in his slightly older age, looks and sounds 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 who can handle various musical styles. He now sounds like a great mix of Michael Schenker, Ritchie Blackmore, and Gary Moore in guitar playing. 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 band’s current more toned town outward style suits great for them, and it’s more representative of the band’s contemporary heavy/bluesy musical diction.
The setlist was understandably built around the newer material. Altogether four songs were played from BAG OF BONES; four from the previous LAST LOOK AT EDEN, one from SECRET SOCIETY, and the rest was a collection of the band’s biggest hits from the 80’s/early ’90s. 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.
This was a festival performance, but… it was a bit annoying when the band was doing its best on stage for over 90 minutes, and most people only cheer for a handful of tracks. Hopefully, things will be different when the band returns to Finland for its own headlining tour in 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
MORE PICTURES FROM PORVOO !!!