Three key points should be taken from Europe’s performance at Rock City. Firstly their lead vocalist looks spookily like Tom Cruise in ‘Rock of Ages’. Secondly synthesizers can reduce even the most mature middle-aged man to a squealing girl at their very sound. The final and most important point is that Europe are not some cheesy one hit wonder; they are a legitimate hard rock band.
To shed some light on my second point I must take you back to the beginning of the night. Following an excellent half-hour set from support act Stonerider, the set up and sound checks for the headline act began. Never have I heard such a reaction to the latter, specifically when the synthesizer and keyboard was tested there was an uproar from the crowd, clearly this was what they had come for; the instrument which in many way defined the band’s iconic sound.
The band emerged onto stage to great applause but what followed surprised me somewhat. Without so much as an introduction the band burst into three brand new tracks, more precisely the opening three tracks on their new album ‘Bag of Bones’. That said you would never have known as these hard hitting tracks got the rockers in the crowd going. This bold move seemed to not only pay off by exciting those in attendance, but also showed great faith in their latest product. In fact they would go on to play several other tracks from ‘Bag of Bones’ all of which the audience lapped up. Not wishing to push their luck the band then broke into one of their classic tracks in ‘Superstitious’, their second best-selling single. What followed and continued throughout the night was a charming effort to gain the further support of the Nottingham crowd by attempting some local phrases like “Eh up mi duck” some Dale Winton jokes and a plethora of Nottingham based facts clearly taken straight from Wikipedia, all of which were followed by laughter.
The set continued with a mix of old and new with any gaps between songs cleverly filled by very popular synth solos. Highlights of the set included the fantastic power ballad ‘New Love in Town’ and the full band acoustic track ‘Drink and a Smile’. As the night progressed more of the big hits of their early fame were introduced such as ‘Sign of the Times’ and their iconic ballad ‘Carrie’. The main set finished in spectacular style with ‘Rock the Night’ blasting out through the packed crowd in Rock City. Just when the song seemed to be finishing the band switched to their own unique versions of Iron Maiden’s ‘Run to the Hills’ and the Queen classic ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ before returning to finish the original track. The band thanked the audience and left the stage, but every person in the building knew they weren’t going anywhere. Upon their return for the encore the crowd were teased with one more brilliant track ‘Last Look at Eden’ before being sent into a frenzy with their worldwide phenomenon ‘The Final Countdown’.
No matter what you were expecting upon entering Rock City on a cold Tuesday night everybody was blown away. Hard rockers, metal heads and cheese fans alike left the night feeling both surprised and overjoyed with what they heard. Certainly no one there will ever think of Europe as a cheesy one hit wonder – they are a legitimate rock band whose recent albums and live performances put many young bands to shame. They played with a vigour and pride in their music, which is not only admirable but fantastic to listen to.
…Will has been listening to Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run…