Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ (C) MindHex Media
Approximately halfway through the second set, in a show of two halves, Europe played ‘Prisoners in Paradise’. If you’re a fan of the band, you’ll appreciate this more than anything else, and hearing that song performed live for the first time in [forever] was all I needed. If it had been the opening song of the night, I might have stood up five minutes later and headed home as happy as the person who stayed for the full 26-song experience. For the stats fans, the song hasn’t been played in the UK since 1992 except for one show in Newcastle in 2011.
This tour, dubbed ‘Time Capsule,’ is a celebration of all eras of Europe. Thankfully, we are treated to a smorgasbord of songs encapsulating the band’s career, Phase 1 from the band’s 1983 debut to 1991’s ‘Prisoners in Paradise’, and Phase 2 showcasing their reformation with ‘Start from the Dark’ in 2004 through to 2017’s ‘Walk the Earth’. The fact that they have released more albums since reforming is a testament to the enjoyment the band has for their work and the ever-supportive global fan base. There were clearly fans from around the world present at the first of two nights at the Palladium, and more than a handful of the truly faithful were at the front of the venue, a point not missed by Joey Tempest as he regularly made the effort to let them join in on choruses.
If we rewind a moment to the start of the evening, the show opened at 7:30 pm with a packed house and a documentary, interviewing all members of the band about how they came together. They were members of different acts, entering battle of the band competitions, and over the course of a short space of time, they came together to form Force. Force, of course, isn’t the name we know them by, and without spoiling the documentary for those who have yet to see it, they eventually became Europe, and the rest is history.
With the curtain dropping, the band launched into ‘On Broken Wings’ followed by ‘Seven Doors Hotel’ and ‘Rock The Night’. It’s the sort of trio that would sit at home in an encore, let alone the opening salvo of the night. That is the strength of Europe’s back catalog. They truly are the ultimate “I didn’t realize I knew so many songs” band, and at the Palladium, we got to hear all of them and more.
With ‘Start From The Dark,’ ‘Walk The Earth,’ and the new single ‘Hold Your Head Up,’ proving that the new material sat perfectly alongside the old, the time capsule spat forth everything we could want from a Europe show. Joey with his everlasting smile and the voice of a 25-year-old, John Norum with beautiful blues-tinged guitar solos, birthday boy John Levin giving the sound some real beef alongside drummer Ian Haugland, and the keys of Mic Michaeli, without whom, “that” song would never have the timeless appeal that it does.
Aside from the hits (all of which seemed to get an airing), highlights of the show included an acoustic break during the second set, which again was preceded by more documentary footage, where Joey and John Norum sat down on stools with acoustic guitars, delivered a few stories, and then played the most emotive cover of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’. It was one of the best renditions I’ve ever heard and makes me hope that at some point, these shows will be compiled into a concert movie along with the documentary footage.
After playing ‘Memories’ and John Levin performing a bass solo, manager Adam Parsons appeared on stage with a trolley containing champagne and cake for John, who was celebrating his 60th birthday. With one lucky fan getting a slice of the cake to enjoy and a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ sung by all present, it was then time to bring the show to a conclusion.
Ian Haugland’s famous ‘William Tell Overture’ always resets my dislike of drum solos because he and only he manage to make a solo fun, lively, and worth listening to. It was followed by personal favorites ‘Ready Or Not’ and ‘Superstitious’ before a quick pause and an encore of ‘Cherokee’ and of course, ‘that song’. When 2,300 people all come together to sing along to one song, well, it’s just the best way to end a show.
With a new album due out soon and if the lead single is anything to go by, a return to the phase 1 sound of the band, I simply cannot wait. A stunning performance.
Intro (Europe documentary)
On Broken Wings
Seven Doors Hotel
Rock the Night
Start from the Dark
Walk The Earth
Hold Your Head Up
War of Kings
Girl From Lebanon
Carrie (Mic Michaeli introduction)
Interlude (Greeting from drummer Ian Haugland, stating that there would be a 20 minute break between sets)
Interlude (Europe documentary)
Always the Pretenders
Prisoners in Paradise
Sign of the Times
Space Oddity (David Bowie cover) (acoustic)
Last Look at Eden
Open Your Heart
Memories (John Levén bass solo and spoken interlude – John’s 60th Birthday!)
More Than Meets the Eye
Drum Solo (William Tell Overture with Ian Haugland introduction)
Ready or Not
The Final Countdown
Bring It All Home (Tape)