Europe makes a welcome return to the North East of England for their first show in the region in three years.
With a career spanning almost 40 years, Europe has gone on to rack up record sales of in excess of 25 million albums, whilst flying the flag high for contemporary rock music across the globe.
Following on from the success of Europe’s critically acclaimed 2015 release War Of Kings, the hard rocking Scandinavian five-piece are back with their new album Walk The Earth. The band’s latest album was recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London with Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb. Subsequently, Europe is currently on an extensive UK run that brings them back to Tyneside for an eagerly anticipated show at the O2 Academy Newcastle.
Joining Europe on this run is award-winning blues rockers, King King. Glancing around the room it’s immediately apparent that the British quartet has brought their fans with them, with many in attendance sporting King King T-shirts.
With a generous 50-minute time slot tonight, King King takes the Newcastle faithful through a well-balanced setlist that traverses their four studio albums. King King opens the show with the emphatic “(She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin'” which immediately grabs the crowd’s attention.
During the emotive “You Stopped The Rain”, Nimmo delivers some passionate guitar playing, that leaves the O2 Academy Newcastle completely spellbound.
King King eases the crowd into their set nicely with the incredibly infectious and somewhat soulful blues tones of “Waking Up” and the unmistakable “Long History of Love”. These songs perfectly sum up what King King is all about.
All four members of the group come together seamlessly throughout. Alan Nimmo’s masterful guitar playing perfectly complements the searing Hammond licks of new boy Jonny Dyke. Wayne Proctor on drums and Lindsay Coulson on bass, are like the engine room in King King and keep the groove tight in the rhythm section. The Geordie’s can’t help but be swept away by King King’s catchy blues-rock numbers.
King King showcases the heavier side of their repertoire with the hard rocking “Rush Hour” and “Lose Control” before bringing their set to its conclusion with “Stranger To Love”. This latter of which really allows Alan Nimmo to showcase his talent with some phenomenal fretwork.
The four-piece leaves the stage to one of the best responses we’ve ever seen to an opening set at the O2 Academy Newcastle whilst simultaneously winning over a whole raft of new fans on Tyneside.
As Europe hits the stage, they waste no time at all delving into their latest offering by opening the show with the melodic tones of the title track itself and “The Siege”. Despite a new album under their belt only a small smattering of tracks from Walk The Earth feature in the set this evening.
Last year marked the 30th anniversary of Europe’s seminal album The Final Countdown and during the early stages of the set they celebrate its release with a crowd-pleasing airing of “Rock The Night”. Frontman Joey Tempest completely captivates the Newcastle crowd, with his engaging persona, showmanship and dynamite vocal delivery throughout.
Brandishing an acoustic guitar, Tempest momentarily slows down the proceedings with the beautiful ballad “New Love In Town” before immediately picking the pace back up with the pulsating and hypnotic groove of “Firebox”. During the aforementioned, Europe comes together like a huge wall of sound; one of the many stand out moments of the set.
Guitarist John Norum takes centre stage during his magnificent solo piece “Vasastan”. This track also highlights a more blues orientated side of Norum’s playing which you don’t often hear in the rest of Europe’s back catalogue.
From the opening bars of Mic Michaeli’s keyboard intro to the classic “Sign of the Times”, the crowd claps in unison, creating somewhat of a magical atmosphere inside the room. The classics come in thick and fast, as Europe and the O2 Academy Newcastle come together in harmony during the timeless “Carrie”.
Ian Haugland takes his moment in the spotlight with a monumental drum solo. Europe brings their main set to a close with “Superstitious” during which the group segues a few bars of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again”, to great effect.
A two-song encore of the anthemic “Cherokee” and a euphoric performance of Europe’s signature number “The Final Countdown” brings the show to its explosive conclusion.
Tonight Europe showcases the quality, depth and breadth of their songbook, whilst solidifying their status as modern rock legends. Whilst many will look to their past glories, on the strength of Europe’s recent material the future looks just as equally as exciting.