This show was the first of two sold out shows at The London Palladium at the end of the European leg of the bands 40th anniversary Time Capsule Tour, as with any gig by Europe it's like stepping into an alternate reality, as you realize this always uncool band have managed to maintain a huge following for decades by never failing to deliver a top-notch rock show. It was strange to see how many fans had brought Pre-teen kids along to this show, but not as strange as the bloke in front of us who spent the whole show almost on his phone sending what's app messages.
For this tour the show opens with a film showing the bands origins in Vasby Sweden and how the band members met, as they have all known each other since childhood, as well as Joey Tempest showing how he came up with the melody line for the bands biggest hit on a borrowed keyboard, as the first song he ever wrote.
Then the curtain dropped and Europe came on, opening with On Broken Wings that was the bonus song on the bands best of album, it sounded as full on as expected, with the first solo of the night from guitar god John Norum. Seven Doors Hotel is always a highlight for me, this version was really good with Joey throwing the mic stand about and proving he has all his moves, on this song about being stuck in a cheap and nasty hotel on the band's first tour.
The first big sing along of the night was Rock The Night with Joey leading the call and response as it got ever more convoluted, yet everyone joined in as John Norum's guitar interlocked with Mic Michaeli's keyboards. Start From The Dark was the first of the newer songs that had a harder edge to the earlier material with a crunchier riff and more propulsive drumming from Ian Haugland.
They then brought things right up to date with the second ever live performance of Walk The Earth the title song of the bands most recent album, that had the bands trademark sound with a bit of a widdly solo from John Norum, as Joey walked all over the stage. Joey then gave a short Speech about the tour as John Norum strapped on his Flying V for the first time, for new song Hold Your Head Up that had about the crunchiest riff of the night.
They then went back to Wings Of Tomorrow for Dreamer that had a good spacey feel to it, as Jon Leven's bassline drove things on. War Of Kings sadly feels more pertinent currently than it did when it came out a few years ago, as they look at the mad urges that push "kings" to start wars, as always it's good to hear them slipping in some heavy politics into their super slick rock. Vasatan was the main instrumental that allowed John Norum to take an extended solo as he re-lived his solo years, getting all windblown.
Girl From Lebanon takes on a darker feel in the current climate, as this song of lust for a Girl from another culture sounds catchier than ever. It was then time for Keyboards player Mic Michaeli to give us a bit of a speech and muck about on his keys as they slowly went onto the bands biggest ballad Carrie that had at least one fan waving his mobile phone in the air like a lighter as everyone sang along.
They then brought the first set to a close with a long over the top version of Stormwind that was just as tight and well executed as the entire first set had been, as drummer Ian Haugland said a few words of thanks and told us they would be back in 20 minutes.
The second set opened with another film, this time showing more of the bands career in particular since re-forming and going back on the road at the start of the century. Before opening the second set properly with Always The Pretenders off of Secret Society a song that plays up to the image the band has, of being very uncool one-hit wonders. Ninja allows Joey to make clear how the band need to survive and keep on rocking around the world.
Joey strapped on his guitar for Prisoners In Paradise and the twin guitar attack added another layer to the bands already rich sound. I think this was the point in the set that one of the little kids behind us asked their parents why it wasn't finished yet! Mic Michaeli then played a keyboard solo as intro into Sign Of The Times that seemed quite floaty.
Joey then told us that the first single he ever bought was Space Oddity by David Bowie, I'd guess like me it was the 1975 re-issued hit version. Before he and John Norum sat down and played a really good acoustic version of one of my favorite Bowie songs, that would only have been better had one of them played a 12 string Guitar like David did on the original. This was also the only song of the set that the guy glued to his what's app messages stood up and really engaged with the show.
It was back to full on rocking for Last Look At Eden that is certainly one of the more recent songs that always goes down a storm. Open Your Heart allowed Joey to run around pouring out every last bit of emotion he could.
Memories opened with a bass Solo from John Leven and when they got to the breakdown John gave a little speech before the bands tour manager wheeled out some balloons and a birthday cake so we could all wish John Leven a very happy 60th birthday, that included them giving some cake to some fans in the front row before they brought the song back in and finished it off.
More than meets The Eye is a good description of people's perception of Europe and why it feels like they have created their own world. A point that was really made when everyone apart from drummer Ian Haugland left the stage, as he launched into his drum Solo and played along to a recording of the William Tell Overture, this was a very surreal and funny solo that worked in ways it shouldn't have.
As the rest of the band came back on John Norum had his Flying V with him for Ready Or Not that had a lot of power behind it. They then closed with a monumental version of Superstitious.
Needless to say The Palladium went nuts for an encore that opened with the bands most deeply political song Cherokee (Trail of Tears) that always gets to me, as this is a brilliant way to point out the dreadful injustices of displacing people from there tribal homelands, sadly still very pertinent, this was a brilliant version.
Before they then closed with the song that made the band, as everyone sang along to The Final Countdown making sure everyone went home happy at the end of a two and a half hour show.