Europe Live at the Leeds o2 Academy

Europe Live in Leeds by CackBlabbath

Say what you like about Europe, there is no denying that they have some serious staying power. Since their early Heavy Metal days, via THAT song to their modern bluesy hard rock incarnation the band have continually evolved their sound without compromising any of their fundamental strengths.

Europe Live in Leeds by CackBlabbathThe first time I saw them was back on The Final Countdown tour where they put on a show of tinnitus inducing volume that made it clear that although they may have been enjoying chart success, they were no pop-rock band… nope Europe were the real deal, and fast forward LOTS of years and that hasn’t changed.

In all the years I’ve been following them I have never seen Europe put on a bad show, and hot on the heels of their recent Bag Of Bones album (one of their best ever) I was pretty sure that this run was going to continue into 2012.

Support came from StoneRider, but alas a predictable half hour spent stuck in Leeds’ insane network of motorways, no right turns and one way streets meant that I arrived just in time for them saying goodnight…

Bugger.

Taking my place in the photo pit to await the main attraction it was great to see that the band (I presume) had invited lucky kids to watch the show from in front of the barrier. Don’t remember anything that cool happening when I was that age…

The set opened with Riches To Rags and we were off. As I mentioned before, I have a lot of love for Europe’s latest album, and the tracks from Bag Of Bones certainly got a good airing tonight. It’s one of my albums of the year so far and these songs are, if anything, even better live taking on a heavier edge. Great to hear Joey in top form too, I genuinely don’t think he’s ever sounded better and the new material is perfectly suited to his vocal talents, particularly on Not Supposed To Sing The Blues where he pours heart and soul into the performance.

Europe Live in Leeds by CackBlabbathAs the set proceeds any newcomers to the band (and judging by the age range of the crowd in attendance there are one or two) were shown what many of us already knew, Europe have an incredible back catalogue to raid for their live shows. Superstitious and Scream Of Anger (the song they can’t escape, according to Joey) take us back in time, and the pattern for the evening is set, a perfect mix of old and new.

Apart from their mercurial frontman, Europe are a very understated band visually with awesome axeman John Norum, rocking a classic Flying-V for most of the gig,  happy to stand back and let his fretboard skills do the talking.

The set is neatly split in two by a three song acoustic set, the highlight of which was another new album track, Drink And A Smile. At least partly appropriate as the band looked like they were having fun 🙂

After a further roller-coaster ride through their history that included Carrie and Doghouse among others, the main set finished with Rock The Night. Of course encores were demanded, and the band duly delivered…. And how. Last Look At Eden is one of the best rock songs of recent years and it brought things to a crescendo where there was only really one way to finish off…

I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with the Final Countdown…

And so ended almost two full hours of metal, classic rock and blues played by a band who, even by their own high standards, are on stunning form. I mean what’s not to like ??

If you get the chance to see them on this tour then seriously, take it.