Europe @ O2 Academy, Bristol – 24 February 2010

Europe, the most successful Swedish rock band of all time, were also one of the most successful global rock bands during the 80s, selling over 10 million albums worldwide.

Since their official reunion in 2003 Europe have released three albums, ‘Start from the Dark’ (2004), ‘Secret Society’ (2006) and ‘Last Look at Eden’ released in September of last year, and to date, they appear to have quite a following who don’t turn up just to hear ‘The Final Countdown’.

In fact, putting all thoughts of that era aside, Europe are a very different proposition to what you may assume. They are a strong modern rock band, fronted with the vigour, charisma and vocal dexterity of Joey Tempest and they have a true guitar hero in band co-founder John Norum.

I’m still on a high from Diamond Head’s support set when they open with the grandiose ‘Last Look at Eden’, the title track from the latest album, and one which could easily work as a Bond theme.

Europe’s stage show and their presence is simple, there’s no pomp here. The set-list includes numerous newer tracks including ‘Gonna Get Ready’, ‘No Stone Unturned’ and the power ballad ‘New Love in Town’. From the back catalogue comes ‘Scream of Anger’, ‘Let the Good Times Rock’, ‘Superstitious’, ‘Always the Pretender’ and ‘Start from the Dark’.

Whilst John Norum’s guitar work is mesmerising, particularly his instrumental piece ‘Optimus’, John Levén (bass) Mic Michaeli (keyboards) and Ian Haugland (drums) are a bunch of talented musos and performers.

One can assume that ladies are sent weak-kneed during the mass sing-along with Joey during ‘Carrie’. Throughout the rest of the show he commands the stage, flamboyantly and precisely twirling his trademark white microphone stand during numbers such as ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Rock the Night’.

For the encore comes the very heavy ‘The Beast’, and finally the inevitable tune that sends Bristol Academy bonkers – ‘The Final Countdown’. Concluding an excellent show and proving Europe are much more than the one song for which they will forever be associated.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston