Europe Bag of Bones Tour Review

I meant to write this ages ago, I can’t believe that over a week’s gone by, but real life has a very annoying habit of getting in the way sometimes. Anyway, on Thursday 29th November I went to see Europe at the O2 Academy in Bristol. It’s the third time I’ve seen them live, always at the same venue, and I really associate the two now. I quite like the O2 Academy, it’s a bit of an unusual layout with various levels and I always think it’s pretty funny to see people lined up all along the stairs watching the stage below.

Anyway, last time I saw Europe (in February 2011 I think), this happened:


I got to meet hot bassist John Leven! It was terribly exciting! I know I don’t look that excited, but that’s partly because I was a bit starstruck, and mainly because I was absolutely bloody freezing. Sadly I wasn’t able to hang around and try my luck meeting band members this time round, but nonetheless I still think it was their best gig of the three that I’ve seen.

The support this time round was StoneRider, who looked like they could all have done with a good wash and perhaps a haircut, but I’m sure they were lovely chaps. The singer was a bit too nasal for my liking, but the music sounded alright although they didn’t really leave much breathing space between songs for the audience to show their appreciation, which made it a bit hard to tell whether they were playing a few long songs or had actually merged some shorter songs together.

Europe’s entrance was slightly anti-climatic in a way, they arrived on stage and then hung around for a minute or two fiddling with various knobs on amplifiers and things, before kicking off into new song Riches to Rags, which was quite a good opener actually. I was a bit worried after their entrance that it might be a bit of a lacklustre gig, but I was definitely wrong. As soon as they started playing it was clear they were on top form, full of energy and definitely the best I’ve seen them. They followed Riches to Rags with Not Supposed to Sing the Blues, which is so, so good live and went down like an old fan favourite. This was followed by Firebox, which also worked really well, but I was quite glad that they then moved on to an old classic, Superstitious. I know the point of the tour is to promote the new album, but I like that they opened with the new stuff before moving on to the really well known songs (by fans, obviously. There’s more to them than just The Final Countdown you know!). I thought the balance worked really well.

Supersititious was followed by the ever feisty Scream of Anger, and then it was the crowd’s turn to belt out a number in the form of power ballad Carrie. This is always one of the most popular songs, and I just love hearing thousands of people singing along at the top of their lungs. If you’re unfamiliar with the song (where have you been?!), take a peek at the video in all of its 80s glory and imagine how amazing the chorus sounds when sung by 1,600 people.

The pace was picked up again with Demon Head, another new track, before the band went into a mini acoustic set. Keyboardist Mic Michaeli produced some weird synth noises while the rest of the band left the stage so stools and acoustic instruments could be brought in and set up, and then guitarist John Norum kept us entertained with a snippet of Fleetwood Mac’s The World Keep On Turning. The acoustic set consisted of new song Drink and a Smile, which worked really well and sounded pretty funky, and Open Your Heart, which was just so beautiful and was probably one of my highlights. But the best thing about the acoustic set was the fact that they all sat still for a few minutes, which gave me a chance to grab a few cheeky snaps. I am rather shallow though, and so I mostly took pictures of Joey Tempest and John Leven, because they’re the most attractive and coincidentally my favourites.

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Once all the stools and things had been removed, Joey was again back to full stage-jumping-mic-thrusting tempo with Girl From Lebanon, followed by Sign of the Times, which has possibly one of my favourite song intros ever. Then everything went a bit strange and slightly demonic. Joey was lit up by a red spotlight while slowly chanting and staring unblinkingly (which was a little unnerving!), before they kicked full force into The Beast, which is one of the most popular songs from previous album Last Look at Eden and is always quite the powerhouse live. I later realised that Joey’s strange chanting was actually the chorus of the song spoken slowly with various echoey vocal effects, a suitably dramatic intro for a suitably dramatic song.

And then, highlight of all highlights, it was time for the one song which I get SO EXCITED to hear live because it’s just bloody brilliant with the crowd and the whoahs and the stomping feel good factor, it could only be Rock the Night. You can tell by watching the video just how amazing this can be live, it’s such a party anthem and I absolutely love it. If anything I think it even gets a better reaction than The Final Countdown, the crowd ALWAYS go wild for it and the enthusiasm was caught by Joey on his video camera, hopefully to surface on the internet some time soon. Unless you were there, I really can’t explain how amazing it is to join in with this song live, and I know this all sounds ridiculous and gushy but it was SO DAMN GOOD that you’ll just have to take my word for it. (Unless you were there of course, in which case you know). The video is also worth watching, not just for the cheesy fun and makes-you-want-to-dance-feeling, but also because it provides the rather funny sight of seeing Joey Tempest rocking out in a diner while using a bottle of ketchup as a microphone.

Unsurprisingly, this marked the end to the main part of the show, and what a way to end! The energy levels were so high and the crowd so hyped up that I really, genuinely thought that the roof might actually physically depart the building during the encore. The Prelude from Last Look at Eden gave us a hint what was coming and pumped the atmosphere even higher, and everyone was rocking out once the title track kicked in. But of course we all knew what was coming, the only song they could ever end such an amazing, brilliant night on.

And what a way to end. The video’s not mine by the way, I was too busy leaping around like a maniac and found this on youtube, I know it’s not of the best quality so if anyone could point me in the direction of any videos from the Bristol gig, I would be so very grateful because I’m dying to relive it.

There’s no doubt that Europe are absolutely one of my favourite bands to see live, and I genuinely think that this was one of the best gigs I’ve been to, ever. The atmosphere was so incredible and the crowd were ripping the roof off, especially during Rock the Night and of course The Final Countdown. I would have liked them to play Cherokee because they played it the first time I saw them and it was so great live, but I haven’t heard them play it since. I really do think Europe are one of the most underrated bands, they’re so good live that, even if you didn’t know any of the songs, you couldn’t help but have an amazing time. Joey’s a brilliant frontman, he has so much energy and is always leaping around, tossing microphones about and performing  gravity-defying back bends. The whole band have so much energy and are so captivating to watch, I really can’t recommend them enough. The best thing about seeing them in a smaller venue is that it feels quite special as well, it’s not exactly intimate but it feels a bit more personal when you’re stood so close and realise you’re only sharing the experience with a couple of thousand people, all of whom are having the most amazing time. Seriously, I don’t care if you think they’re cheesy (let’s face it, they are a bit) or one-hit wonders (which is really not the case), they’re so feel good and such fun live, at only around £17 a ticket you’d be totally foolish to not grab every opportunity to see them. I promise you won’t regret it! Plus Joey’s still pretty damn hot. You literally have no excuse.

Set list: Riches to Rags, Not Supposed to Sing the Blues, Firebox, Superstitious, Scream of Anger, Carrie, Demon Head, The World Keep on Turning (John Norum acoustic, Fleetwood Mac cover), Drink and a Smile (acoustic), Open Your Heart (acoustic), Girl From Lebanon, Sign of the Times, The Beast, Rock the Night. Encore: Prelude, Last Look at Eden, The Final Countdown.

See a review of the latest album from Europe, Bag of Bones, or see previous gig review, featuring Alice Cooper’s Theatre of Death Halloween Tour.


6 thoughts on “Europe Bag of Bones Tour Review

  1. Pingback: Europe ( Official Thread) - Page 4 - Classic Rock Forum

  2. I was at the Bristol show as well. It was amazing! Only my second time ever seeing Europe perform live, went to the Cardiff show the next night, crowd was much larger, but I preferred the Bristol venue. I have to disagree with you for a moment and say that in my opinion of all the band members, Mic is by far the cutest one and is very nice 🙂 We did have the time to wait after the show to meet John L. and Mic. By that time we were all pretty frozen, it was so very cold out. They were as nice this time as the last time I met them in Vancouver, BC in 1987. They took time to talk with everyone that waited to meet them, sign some autographs and take some photos. Not only that but there was a homeless man that happened upon the crown and John L. took time out to talk with him and offered him some money to get some food. Very nice guys! I loved the O2 Academy Bristol and when they return for another show I will be back, great venue and the show was fantastic! Stonerider are really nice guys and their music is really good, it’s hard as the opening act to really take your time and show the crowd all of your music, especially when you have a band like Europe coming on after you that are clearly rock gods in all their glory! Stonerider are worth listening to for sure and they also took their time talking to everyone that wanted to chat with them before and after the show. We flew in from Seattle, Washington just to see Europe perform, because they haven’t toured the states in a very long time and I just could not wait any longer to see them live again. So glad we made the trip, more than worth it! The UK is so lucky to be in the tour stops they make regularly. We’d love to see them come back and give a proper concert tour in the states again.

    • John Leven is SO lovely, when we met him he seemed quite concerned that everyone was getting so cold waiting, they’re all so kind and generous with their time (and money re. the homeless man, what a lovely story!) I can’t believe you travelled all the way from Seattle to little old Bristol, it’s a good thing you enjoyed it (although how couldn’t you to be honest!) I think that’s always the main thing I notice about Europe fans, they might not have as big a fan base as some other bands, but the fans they have really are so dedicated and loyal. It was the 3rd time I’ve seen Europe play at that venue, and every time I’ve seen the same woman in the front row. Once you go to a Europe show, you always want to go back!

  3. Pingback: Whitesnake (Year of the Snake Tour) and Journey (Eclipse Tour), Plus Special Guests Thunder | The Steel Review

  4. This is for all those who say that the band Europe is still great or that still make great albums – STOP writing such a shocking nonsenses and stupidities!! All last albums are false and absolutely horrible and this fake band has nothing in common with the real group Europe from the 80’s, now they make fake records, fake and lifeless music without a soul, fake “shows”, all is fake and false and that’s because since the middle of 1989 the real Joey Tempest is not in this band and Joey was truly the only one who has made this group huge with his talents, awesomeness and uniqueness!! And since 25 years there’s such a horrible imposter and liar in this “group”, that’s not the real Joey Tempest!! The real Joey Tempest had to leave the group because of this horrible liar!! It’s so obvious and so clear to see that it’s just someone different (unless you’re blind and deaf, like bunch of ignorants). Only blind and narrow-minded can’t see that there’s a completely different person, not the real Joey in the video with interview from UK concert in august 1989 (and i’m not saying that because of different hairdo but because of everything else) and later is also in all the rest of the videos and everywhere. It’s very recognizable that it’s someone different and if you would know and appreciate the real Joey Tempest very well like he absolutely deserves to be known and appreciated, you would just know and see that instantly. But it is not recognizable to you because you all never knew nor appreciate the real Joey Tempest at all if you believe in such a huge lie, if you believe this awful and horrible liar, an imposter!!! So you never, ever were Europe nor real Joey Tempest’s true fans and you absolutely aren’t at all!! How could you do this to real Joey??!!! How shockingly stupid and close-minded you all are!!! Such a shame, shame on you all!!! The same applies to the rest of the “members” of this “group”!!! No one is talking about it all, because unfortunately the whole world (except a few intelligent people) idiotically has fallen for all these lies, shockingly stupid and idiotic “fans” are still buying and enjoying all this falsity, exciting about all this cruelty, taking a part in this huge meanness, only helping these liars to make such a huge farce but time will absolutely prove you’re all so wrong!! You idiots, incapable of logical thinking accept, praise and support mean, negative imposter and liar, can’t see the truth and it only shows that you didn’t appreciate at all the one and only, real Joey Tempest and that’s a huge, huge mistake and therefore you absolutely don’t deserve and you have no rights to call yourselves a “fan” because you never were any kind of fans!! This horrid demon also released solo albums under the name of Joey, still insolently pretending to be Joey Tempest!!! And this disgusting, hideous and rude imposter has nothing in common with the real Joey Tempest, Europe’s vocalist in 1982-1989, not only his looks and sound of voice are completely different but also behaviour, eyes, facial features, personality and absolutely everything!! And the excuse that it could be because the years have passed, it’s just such a stupid and lame excuse!!! This is just a totally different person!! It’s not even a person, he acts like some kind of a devil!! He isn’t even real Joey’ Tempest’s look-alike and never, ever will be like Joey!!! A real Joey Tempest had so much love for the fans, he loved people generally and it was so clear to see, he was such an amazing, unique, loving and beautiful person inside and out, the most amazing person in the whole world, he was very talented, gifted, with pure, heavenly voice and had a lovely, beautiful, angelic soul, he wanted to give fans all what was the best to give and he gave all of that, not like imposter which is incomparably worse and gives all what’s the worst with his rude behaviour, obscene facial expressions, offensive gestures towards people and has no talent, no soul and no voice!! There’s not even comparison between him and the real Joey Tempest!! This demonic devil only cares about himself, this whole falsity and not about the “fans”, his main and the only goal is to make fools of as many people as possible to still gain more and more as long as it’s possible undeservedly and you all brainless idiots still help him to do this!!! And the real Joey Tempest gave people all the best he had and what you stupid ignorants and idiots gave him in return, what you all did to him instead??!!! You never knew nor appreciated him at all and you love, accept and support false and bad imposter, it’s so unfair, mean and cruel!!! You are worshipping the devil!!! I repeat – Shame on you all!!! And don’t even bother to write back with your idiocy once again because i will not come here ever again and will not read it, not even one word. If any of the thousands of deceived, blind ignorants want to write back saying that doesn’t believe me, read carefully the lyrics of Europe’s “Danger on the track” and if your eyes and minds still will be closed so just wait, time will tell that all written here it’s the truth and all this huge farce definitely will come to an end one day!! Lies can’t last forever and they will be forced to end all this whole meannes and all liars, posers will disappear. Some of you might want to fix your huge errors then, but it can be too late to do that. And the real, THE ONE AND ONLY Joey Tempest will come back. Not to this group because they never deserved to have him as a friend. He will be happy and will be appreciated the way he really deserves by wise and really good, righteous people. And it’s just a matter of time before the truth will come out, THE FINAL COUNTDOWN – as an angel Joey sings!! This is why that song has become so succesful and Joey made it huge because it’s the song about the truth. So the truth will come back to earth!!! This is The Countdown the one and only, real Joey Tempest was really singing about – TO LOVE AND THE TRUTH!!!

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