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Friday, December 23, 2011

Europe ‘Live at Shepherd’s Bush, London’ DVD review

Europe ‘Live at Shepherd’s Bush, London’ DVD review
Released on: MVD Visual.  Release date: Available now

Well, so much for keeping these reviews down to a minimum in content, phew!
That said, these one deserves the attention, well worth checking out.

Europe is a band that has yet to really break through to America and win American hearts over, but it’s not for lack of trying.
They are probably best known for their album, ‘The Final Countdown’ back in 1986/7. They have tried returning to the States in time to time, but alas so far to little avail, which is a huge shame, as when the band played here last, about five years back, they were playing some club gigs, that the bands seemed to really enjoy doing, but clearly wasn't enough for them to consider coming back again since. I hope that view changes, as I'd love to see them again. 
Formed in Sweden in the early 80s, their debut self titled album was released in 1983 and then 'Wings of Tomorrow' - Great album! - in 1984. Following the success of ‘The Final Countdown,’ they have continued to go from strength to strength across Europe in and other parts of the world up until the early 90s when they decided to take a rest from, the band Europe and pursue their own solo projects respectively.

At the tail end of 1999 the band reunited to re-record a special version of 'The Final Countdown' to celebrate coming into the new millennium. This sparked great interest in the band again and they decided to try with Europe once more, a couple of years on.
In 2004 the band released a new album, ‘Start from the Dark,’ which clearly had a darker and more edgy sound, is actually managed to win them new fans and almost a fresh start.
They followed this album up with the ‘Secret Society’ and then in 2009 the latest album, ‘Last look at Eden.’
This DVD brings fans right up to date, recorded at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire in February of 2011, the band plowed through an excellent rock set.

‘Last look at Eden’ opens proceedings in powerful fashion, before the band rocks even harder with ‘The Beast.’
Anyone that still thinks of Europe as a ‘Parp, parp,’ band à la ‘The Final Countdown’ era is very much mistaken.
‘The Beast’ is seriously hard edged and clearly the fans enjoy this on their supportive response.

‘Rock the Night’ from the ‘… Countdown’ album comes up next and has always rocked the crowd like a ‘good ‘un’ and has perhaps been one of the most played Europe songs on radio today and Joey (Tempest), knows it’s popularity by getting the crowd to sing along.
I have to add here, that John Norum’s performances are nothing less than spectacular and on this occasion it is no different!
Then the band dips back further into their past, to the 'Wings of Tomorrow’ album with ‘Scream of Anger.’
To me it bears similarities to Europe’s favorite bands that inspired them like UFO, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy.
Great stuff, a great guitar solo yet again from John Norum and thunderous powerhouse drumming from Ian Haughland.
Not to mention Jon Levin on bass is as solid as a rock!

After some atmospheric keyboard wizardry from Mic Michali, the band joins in for next song ‘No Stone Unturned,’ which is a massive epic like track, from ‘Last look at Eden.’
It is full of great all round performances from the whole band. Guitar and keyboard solos, clever drumming, great baselines and great vocals from Joey Tempest.
A nice piano introduction the mighty power ballad 'Carrie' follows next. Class stuff indeed!
Back to the hard rock next with ‘The Getaway Plan’ which is a seriously edgy number that rocks the house!
Joey then stops things to dedicate this next song to the memory of Gary Moore (RIP) by explaining that it was the playing of guys like this that inspired the band and then he says ‘Gary Moore this one’s for you!’
‘The Loner’ is a great track that I first remember hearing Gary Moore playing on Cozy Powell’s ‘Over the Top’ album, back in the day and John Norum's guitar playing here is top notch.
A worthy tribute indeed.

‘The Seventh Sign’ is next from the hugely underrated ‘Prisoners in Paradise’ album and a track co-written by former guitarist Kee Marcello who had stepped into Europe to tour with the band on ‘The Final Countdown’ tour and then subsequent albums, until the split in the mid-90’s.
It’s a really killer, dirty rockin’ track! Great stuff!

 The next track is introduced as a song that started life in San Francisco when the band were writing for ‘Prisoners …’ and then it reappeared as they were writing for ‘Last Look At Eden.’ As Joey explains that three years ago his son Jamie was born, in a London hospital, ‘as a very tired Papa, I started scribbling the words to this next song, it’s called ‘New Love In Town.’
The song is a great big emotional power ballad is the greatest possible sense of the word. Brilliant track indeed!

Then it’s ‘Love is Not the Enemy,’ which kind of reminds me a lot of something Phil Lynott would’ve written for Thin Lizzy in places. It’s killer!
Next is ‘More Than Meets the Eye’ from ‘Out of this World’ which is just great to hear again, as I thought that was a class album.

Time for a drum solo from Ian Haughland next as he rocks along with a backing track of the ‘William Tell Overture,’ and it’s not too shabby, but sorry Ian, not a patch on some of those epics we used to get when Cozy Powell would drum along with classic pieces.

‘Always The Pretender’ starts gently and then the rock kicks in and this is an excellent track from the ‘Secret Society’ that gave them a huge hit in their home country. It’s a track of light and dark, that’s incredibly strong and then the band play the title track from their comeback album, ‘Start From The Dark.’
It’s a song that has great impact, but it seems that sadly the Shepherd’s Bush’s crowd isn’t into it as much as the song and band deserves, it’s an excellent track, which the crowd do applaud at the end.

‘Superstitious’ from ‘Out of this World’ is a better known song in the UK for the band and it does have a better impact on the crowd of the evening. The band then goes into a sub-reggae groove before building back up again and clearly the crowd is more into it, as the song closes the main set of the evening.

The band then return to present a new song in the shape of ‘Doghouse,’ which to a degree reminds me a little of M.S.G., not least perhaps because of John Norum’s, Michael Schenker like playing. It’s really not too bad at all.
Finally, the band could not escape any gig I guess without playing their breakthrough song from around the world, ‘The Final Countdown,’ to close proceedings.
I have to say, when I think back to how I saw Europe, back in 80’s in the UK and how the crowd responded, sadly it’s disappointing to not see a more appreciative response from the UK’s capital show.
Perhaps guys next time record the show in another UK city, not London. Shame …
Either way, I think it’s a great live show and worthy of a strong rating.

There’s bonus footage here too from their homeland, at a two big gigs, the first in Stockholm’s Ice Stadium, it’s a massive show that totally shows the band a lot more respect on the eight songs they have here.
Then there are four tracks performed from a show from a Swedish amusement park that kicks off with some pyro’s, excellent stuff!

There’s also some behind the scenes footage from the Shepherd’s Bush gig, with band interviews and more and a couple of promo video’s for both ‘Last Look At Eden’ and ‘New Love In Town.’
Overall, I think this a great DVD, loads on it to watch, all very worthwhile stuff worth checking out.
If you don’t already have it, maybe ask for it as a late Christmas stocking filler! Ha ha!
 Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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