Evergreen classic rockers Europe embarked on pre-Brexit tour of Britain this month. HRH Mag rocked the night away.
If this really was Europe’s last UK tour before Brexit then rock’s remainers were typically passionate in persuading the masses that it’s so much better to stay together. Sweden’s finest musical export since Abba have long since forged a special bond with UK audiences and the band’s purposeful move towards the type of blues-soaked classic rock reminiscent of early Whitesnake and classic Deep Purple has only served to strengthen that close relationship.
Self-confessed Anglophile Joey Tempest has made no secret of his bitter disappointment in the wake of the UK’s decision to split from the EU and current long player Walk The Earth reflects that rumbling discontent: passionate and politicised, it’s about as far removed as possible from the outdated image of Europe as poodle rock popsters.
Only those stuck in the late 80s and watching constant reruns of Top Of The Pops still see Tempest and co. as soft rock poster boys – all style and no substance. Those who – like the band – have moved with the times have become used to Europe’s increasingly affecting blues-based approach. A focus on revamping their 80s hits, with John Norum and Mic Michaeli adding subtle muscle to that FM-friendly sound, means that the new fuses seamlessly with the old. Carrie and Cherokee are still lighter-waving ballads of a certain vintage but even two of Europe’s more velvety tunes benefit from a rougher edge in 2018.
Tempest’s vocal range remains remarkable given so many years spent belting out hit after hit across the globe. Once again released from the band’s cryogenic chamber (there’s no other plausible explanation for the frontman’s eternally youthful appearance), one of the most charismatic men in rock pulled off all the moves, hit all the high notes and had an absolute blast.
Perhaps the only thing Tempest toned down was the mid-set banter. But there was very little time for idle chit chat such was the length and depth of a truly career-spanning setlist. And when he did take the odd breather he chose his words carefully – reinforcing his appreciation of a North East crowd that appreciated the now familiar Superstitious/Here I Go Again mash-up.
A sparkling light show and the canny addition of Scots rockers King King made for a magical night. Just as the EU without the UK looks like an increasingly gloomy prospect, the UK without Europe would be a far poorer place. It’s The Final Countdown but don’t expect Brexit to get in the way of this consistently brilliant band.