Date: Wednesday May 23rd 2018
Venue: The Tivoli
Reviewer: Curt Ubank
Photographer: Andrew Treadwell – Hang Me On Your Wall Photography
Sometimes you’ve just got to wait until the time is right, and for Swedish hard rock heavyweights Europe, well, that means a 35 year wait to make their way to us down under. With a career that spans decades, 11 Studio albums and a slew of hits so instantly recognisable that almost everybody will sing along, the question remains…. was that wait really worth it?
The answer, of course is a thunderous yes. The Brisbane show being the last of the tour, and a Wednesday night, expectations were set for a fairly reserved night. The line outside filled with denim and silver haired rockers, but once inside, the anticipation from long time fans was tangible.
The show kicks off with “Walk the Earth”. It’s the lead single off their latest studio effort, and it’s a brilliant way to open the show. Being a casual fan, it was an infectiously fun opening track. From the first notes it was clear that this was a well oiled machine of a band. “The Siege” follows, also from the newest record. It’s a grungy, AOR stomp, and the crowd was loving every second of it.
Our first Classic hit of the set is “Rock the Night” and it does exactly that. After Joey Tempest’s vocal intro, the crunch of the familiar riff works the crowd to a triumphant cheer, almost everybody knows it word for word, and the band clearly relishes hearing it sung back at them. The brief few bars of AC/DC’s “Whole lotta Rosie” didn’t hurt either. “Scream of Anger”,”Danger on the Track” and “Firebox” flow effortlessly, and for a band with an extensive catalog like they have, it’s a joy to see Old and new tracks mesh so well side-by-side.
The sweeping piano intro to “Sign of The Times” gets long time fans cheering, as the first set powers through, never losing momentum. It’s impressive to see how much fun the band are having, they’re all smiles as they smash out hit after hit, every track bringing something new and unique. A particular standout is 2015’s single “Days of Rock and Roll” with an infectious beat and catchy hard rock riffs, it’s tracks like this that make you want to hear more and more. “Superstitious” rounds out the first half of the show, with a dash of U2’s “With or Without You” thrown in for good measure, as a brief interval hits. The band heads backstage to throw back “A few cold ones” and it’s clear that very few were expecting this level of pedigree in the show. Anywhere you were in the venue, you’d overhear conversations about just how top notch the show is.
The interval is indeed short, as the lights drop and no time is lost, immediately heading into “Ready or Not”. From this point on, the show is at fever pitch. Almost every song a long-time classic and played to perfection. This line up, consisting of Vocalist Joey Tempest, guitarist John Norum, John Levén on bass, Mic Michaeli on keyboards and Ian Haugland on the kit, has been together since 2003. The magic between the 5 is unmistakable, as song by song their performance is unparalleled. The power ballad “Carrie” has arms in the air, iPhone lights instead of lighters, with the crowd and Tempest’s vocals making the Tivoli feel like a massive stadium, it’s moments like this littered through the set that show just how at their peak Europe are, and it’s VERY rare to experience such a fun drum solo, that almost feels like it could have been longer, that’s just how good they are!
The second set builds to a thunderous close with the triple threat combo of “Prisoners in Paradise”, “GTO” and “Let the Good Times Rock”, and we get our standard goodbyes from the bands for the short teaser splitting this set and the encore, moments later the almost deafening intro to “Cherokee” hits. It’s a track many here have waited far too long to hear live and it shows, The chorus echoing back in a sea of voices. For a set that’s spent 26 songs building anticipation, there was no way that they couldn’t close with their most well known track. The Lights darken, the bass rumbles and those familiar synth horns blast out “The Final Countdown”. It’s a triumphant close, with everyone in the venue on their feet, cheering along, its utter 80’s magic.
For a band who’ve been around since 1979, and have only just made their way down under, Europe was a long wait. If it was any other band it may not have met expectations, but with the 5 musicians onstage, they’ve captured a magic that is impossible to fake. We can only hope the next tour is less that 35 years away, right?