Europe’s transformation from preening pop metal glitterati into classic rock kings is old news but as the band return to Britain armed with their best album yet, there’s a growing realisation that the good times won’t last forever.
“We talk about it sometimes,” said Smash Hits Magazine poster boy Joey Tempest as he wrapped up final rehearsals for this month’s double header alongside Thin Lizzy offshoot Black Star Riders.
“We’re going to keep going for as long as we’re having fun!”
Fun will be top of the agenda on Saturday night as chart hits spanning the last five decades ring out for three hours.
Tempest will go head to head with Black Star Riders’ popular Northern Irish vocalist Ricky Warwick in the battle of the enduring frontmen with a healthy serving of new material punctuating a raft of recognised classics.
“It’s important that both bands are still making new music,” added Tempest. “It keeps us motivated. Right now we’re joking about playing for another 10 years! I don’t think Europe is the kind of band that will go out on a farewell tour. We know we can’t go on forever but we’re some way off calling it a day.
“We make an album, we go on tour and if we decide we can’t do that again then we take a break. But we won’t go away for good. It’s not been a difficult choice sticking with this band since we got back together but you just never know what’s really going on behind the scenes in other bands.
“Some musicians just don’t get on with each other. Some bands won’t carry on as soon as one of the core members calls it a day. Some people just decide they want a change of scene.”
Europe opted for a change of sound rather than a change of scene and the Swedes’s critically acclaimed War Of Kings – released this week – marks the culmination of a five-album cycle that’s allowed the band responsible for The Final Countdown to cultivate an intoxicating classic rock sound.
Using Rival Sons producer Dave Cobb and a back-to-basics approach, the band’s 10th studio offering has never sounded more like the 70s rock that first inspired Tempest and band mate John Norum 40 years ago.
“With War Of Kings it’s not as if we set out to make a Deep Purple album,” added Tempest.
“We’re on our own journey but we do find ourselves talking about certain vibes from certain albums during the recording process.
“We found ourselves referencing the vibe on Heaven And Hell with Ronnie James Dio and the vibe that underpins Led Zeppelin IV. It’s a very spontaneous process. We’re not a band that copies other bands – we never have been. But we can’t help channelling a certain vibe at different stages of the recording process.”
In 2015 Europe have found perfect bedfellows in Black Star Riders – the band risen from the ashes of Scott Gorham’s reborn Thin Lizzy and supporting a second album of rootsy new material.
“It’s another great line-up after we went out with Foreigner and FM last time,” added Tempest. “It’s a fantastic double header and it will be a great evening of rock. They have so many classic tracks and great new songs to choose from. That’s what we have in common.
“I think it will be a real treat for fans spanning the generations. Classic rock needs bands like Black Star Riders and I’ll enjoy their set as much as the next man!”
Europe and Black Star Riders play Newcastle O2 Academy, Westgate Road, on March 7. Tickets: 0191 260 2020 or www.o2academynewcastle.co.uk