Europe and King King – O2 Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne 17th September 2018

When the “Walk the Earth” tour was announced at the tail end of 2017 I was beyond excited. Europe are one of the bands that I have loved for a long time but the releases since their reformation in the early part of the 21st Century have just seen this phenomenal band grow in stature amongst those bands that fire me up on every release. I’ve been fortunate to see (and photograph) them a number of times over the last 6 years but I just seem to look forward to the next one as soon as the last is done. Tonight was no exception as Europe are without a doubt more than just about “that” song and live they are still absolutely on fire and, based on this tour, better than ever.

First up was King King. Fronted by the maestro Alan Nimmo, the Glaswegians were incredible from the first notes. As a teenage guitar player I became besotted with blues guitar but probably over did it back in the day so that now I tend to judge blues by comparisons. What a mistake that would have been tonight. With soulful vocals, immense playing and the tightest of bands King King deliver a to the point opening set. What a way to win new friends – a perfect blend of rock and blues with influences clear but not overpowering. I was smitten (straight off needing to get their albums in my collection). I (and you) need to see this band again with urgency. Just awesome!

What can be said about Europe that hasn’t been said before during their multi million selling, multi-decade career? This is a band right at the very top of their game. Joey’s voice is probably better than ever, the art of putting a set together is at its pinnacle and with a catalogue of songs as strong as theirs, what could you find fault with? For the packed house tonight, clearly the answer to that question was nothing. Straight from the opening bars of “Walk the Earth”, Sweden’s finest hit us with everything – leaving nothing in the dressing room for another night. With a stunning light show (OK the smoke and back lighting made photography a challenge, but who said it should be easy?) and the best sound I have heard at the Academy in Newcastle we were treated to rock and roll perfection.

John Norum’s solo “Vasastan” was incredible (I’m a guitar player first, so shoot me), “Last Look at Eden” is always superb (especially with the almost menacing “Prelude” leading into it. The drum solo (quite often the signal for the bar to get busy), kept the crowd hooked and fully engaged.

Other personal highlights were “Cherokee”, “Sign of the Times” and “Rock the Night” – mind you every time I look at the set list, those change. “The Final COuntdown” closed the show and, whatever anybody says about that song, the crowd adore it. Bouncing and dancing whilst bellowing the words, the crowd show why the band will keep playing it. As a massive fan of the band, I would be picky and say I would love to hear more songs from “Out of This World” and “Prisoners in Paradise” but I am being REALLY picky with that. I have spent the last couple of weeks listening to every album and, do you know what, I would struggle to pick a set that wasn’t basically every album in order.

Walk the Earth
The Siege
Rock the Night
Hole in My Pocket
Last Look at Eden
New Love in Town
Ready or Not
Sign of the Times
Turn to Dust
Nothin’ to Ya
Drum Solo
Scream of Anger
War of Kings
Superstitious (With a snippet of ”Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake)

The Final Countdown

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