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Review: Europe and Black Star Riders, Newcastle 02 Academy

Simon Rushworth enjoyed a relaxed, confident and Geordie-sprinkled performance on Tyneside from the veteran rockers

****
Rock band Europe
Rock band Europe

If Joey Tempest still can’t nail a Geordie accent then the fact that he nailed just about every note of hard rock anthems old and new gave the popular Swede instant credit where an expectant crowd was concerned. Throw in the fact that he mentioned Ant and Dec in the same breath as Brian Johnson and David Coverdale and it was clear from the outset that the 80s rock god has lost none of his self-deprecating sense of humour and ability to work a room.

In fact Tempest and his band mates have rarely looked so relaxed, so confident and so certain that their new material ranks alongside the best of a bulging back catalogue.

One third of this 80-minute set was devoted to choice tracks culled from new album War Of Kings and there were few complaints from the rapt masses: the band’s best record for two decades nudged into the top 50 of the UK album charts 24 hours later but it’s way, way better than disappointing first week sales suggest.

Days Of Rock N Roll found a place in between decades-old standards Rock The Night and The Final Countdown as the band’s penultimate song and yet it didn’t sound out of place with a riff that confirms guitarist John Norum’s rich vein of songwriting form. It was just one of a slew of new tunes that added weight to the theory that Europe’s initially unexpected trasformation from pop metal heroes to blues rock gods is now complete.

Black Star Riders have undergone a transformation of their own in the last five years – timing the decision to release original music with the move to put the final incarnation of Thin Lizzy to bed.

An assured set combining jukebox classics The Boys Are Back In Town, Whisky In The Jar and Emerald with the Radio Two playlisted Killer Instinct and evocative Soldierstown showcased frontman Ricky Warwick at his charismatic best.

There were signs that enduring guitar hero Scott Gorham is taking more of a back seat but the super cool American still sparkled on the solos that mattered.

Those quick off the mark were fortunate enough to catch vibrant opening act The Amorettes – three women from Glasgow evoking the spirit of the Runaways and capturing the sound of classic Saxon. Not a natural fit for this classic rock double header, the trio didn’t care one jot. Expect big things from these brilliant new Brits.

Simon Rushworth

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