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Three decades on and Europe still waiting for the final countdown

For decades critics have been predicting Europe's final countdown. Thirty years on the band are bigger and better than ever. Simon Rushworth reports

Michael Johansson Rock band Europe
Rock band Europe

Last summer Europe returned home to play a mammoth two-and-a-half-hour set as the headline act at the world famous Sweden Rock festival.

The career-defining show marked the band’s 30th anniversary and featured hit singles and fan favourites spanning a commercially successful and creatively rich spell at the top of the melodic rock game.

As founder member and lead singer Joey Tempest wrestled with the task of condensing that landmark set into 60 minutes ahead of tonght’s sell-out Newcastle City Hall gig (also featuring Europe and FM), he looked back on a magical moment in Europe’s star-studded history with pride and satisfaction.

“We were under a little bit of pressure this time last year,” he said.

“There were a couple of months to go until Sweden Rock and everyone was talking about what we may or may not play and whether we had anything special planned.

“Everybody within the band sent their favourite set lists to each other and of course there was a core of songs that we couldn’t leave out. They ranged from Last Look At Eden to Superstitious – songs that we could all agree on straight off.

 

“For the Sweden Rock show we also had to contact Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders) and Michael Schenker (Scorpions/UFO) and make sure they were OK joining us on stage. So straight off there were two songs on the set list (Jailbreak and Lights Out) set aside specifically for them.

“We rehearsed for a week and we were ready. Everybody was so excited.”

That excitement is palpable when watching the DVD of a simply stunning show. However, Tempest admitted much of the gig was a blur as Europe raced through a bulging back catalogue including Wings Of Tomorrow, Carrie, Open Your Heart, Rock The Night… and that song.

“There were a few times when I could relax and enjoy the moment – especially when we played some of the older songs,” added the London-based singer.

“I’d take a second to look out at the crowd and appreciate what a great experience this was. I tried to remember what it was like 30 years earlier and tried to imagine what my younger self would have made of it all.”

Ten months down the line and Europe are back on the road as the filling in a mouthwatering melodic rock sandwich.

Hitting the City Hall stage after Brit favourites FM and prior to AOR legends Foreigner, Tempest can’t wait to sample another Friday night in Newcastle.

“I remember playing the City Hall back when we first broke through,” he added. “We’ve played the Academy since but it’s great to be going back to a venue synonymous with the North East rock scene.

“In my mind I can picture playing there, with the tight wings and the balcony, and I’ve been told it hasn’t changed too much. It’s an iconic venue if you’re a rock band from Sweden and I’m excited to be playing there again.

“I’ve always liked the way people appreciate their rock in the North East. The crowd is always animated and they tend to sing along from the start. When they go to a gig they go to have a party and that makes a huge difference for the band up on stage.

“I heard it was sold out some time ago and we can’t wait to play a venue that’s packed to the rafters.

“The whole tour has sold well and it’s a real plus because you never know what’s going to happen – however good the package. And make no mistake, this is some package!”

The Live At Sweden Rock – The 30th Anniversary Show is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray via earMUSIC

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