Review by Paul Davis and photos by Mark Lloyd
Having been amongst the huge crowd gathered at Donington for Europe’s doomed Download appearance this year, it was a little surprising to arrive at a sparsely populated Academy. With Atlanta rockers Stonerider having had to pull out due to illness, the venue started to fill closer to stage time with people maybe taking advantage of the lack of a support act this evening.
Europe are touring in support of their well received album Bag Of Bones, produced by the much in demand Kevin Shirley. The set opens with three from the new album, ‘Riches To Rags’, the outstanding ‘Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’ and latest single ‘Firebox’. The first step in to the past is with ‘Superstitious’ from 1988 album Out Of This World, driven by the keyboards of Mic Michaeli.
From here they go further back and somewhat heavier with ‘Scream Of Anger’ before Joey Tempest has some banter with the locals, with talk of Brummies and the Black Country but it seems Joey’s favourite word tonight is ‘bostin’. Like a lot of bands that come to Birmingham, the band shows their appreciation of the music that came from our area, with the almost obligatory mention of Sabbath.
The big ballad from Last Look At Eden is ‘New Love In Town’ with Tempest telling the crowd how the lyrics were inspired by the birth of his son. A keyboard solo keeps the crowd entertained while the stage is set for a short acoustic performance, beginning with John Norum performing solo before the rest of the band join him on stools at the front of the stage. After ‘Drink And A Smile’ from Bag Of Bones ,Tempest asks if the audience recognises the three notes he’s about to play, judging by the reaction it’s an emphatic yes and the short acoustic set closes with ‘Open Your Heart’.
The last part of the main set sees the band continuing to mix the old and new, ‘Bag Of Bones’ and ‘Doghouse’ alongside old favourites like ‘Girl From Lebanon’ and ‘Carrie’. They close with ‘Rock the Night’(interspersed with a little of ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ and ‘Paranoid’), taking those of a certain age back to the mid eighties, although there are a few youngsters in the crowd tonight too.
Europe return to the stage for an encore of ‘Last Look At Eden’ and, of course, ‘The Final Countdown’. It is perhaps a predictable ending to the night, the song that has defined their career but it’s a credit to the band that their contemporary work that really stands out tonight.
And you can see more shots from the show here: