Arriving at the Lowry Theatre in the heart of Manchester’s bustling Media City, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that tonight is going to be a pure hard rock masterclass from one of the finest purveyors of the genre, Swedish superstars Europe.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut album, this tour is billed as ‘An Evening With Europe’ and is set out in two halves both including interviews with all the band members, historical footage and two sets crammed with classics from their incredible back catalogue.
The first act starts with a delve into the pre-Europe days, building up to their explosion as one of the biggest rock bands of the ’80s. Kicking off the musical entertainment, the band bounded out, powering through “On Broken Wings” and “Seven Doors Hotel.” Two numbers in, and while a smattering of fans were on their feet, the band stormed into “Rock The Night,” this had fans around the venue up and singing along.
Continuing through the twelve-song first act, there was plenty of banter and interaction between the band and the crowd, with frontman Joey Tempest in particular lapping up the electric atmosphere. In regards to the pin-up frontman, Tempest was note-perfect throughout the set and still had all those moves which had him rivalling Jon Bon Jovi as the hottest rockstar of the ’80s. Other highlights of the first half included an absolutely sensational rendition of the hit ballad “Carrie.”
The second half of the show kicked off with more documentary footage and interviews with the individual band members before they returned to the stage kicking off the second half with “Always The Pretenders” and a particularly anthemic “Ninja.”
Guitarist John Norum joined the frontman centre-stage for a rendition of “Space Oddity” before a thunderous “Last Look At Eden” threatened to take the roof off the venue. Dropping in bass and drum solos, the band wrapped up the second half of the set with wall-shaking versions of “Ready or Not” and “Superstitious.”
Returning barely a minute or two later, things were heading into the moment everyone had been waiting for and after a rousing rendition of “Cherokee,” the now familiar intro to megahit single “The Final Countdown” saw the band erupt into the single, which had turned them into superstars the world over as the Swedes wrapped up this two-hour extravaganza in incredible fashion.
Sure, the band aren’t playing the ernomo-domes they graced in the ’80s but watching Tempest and Co delivering a near-note-perfect two-hour set in Manchester, it’s hard to deny that it’s been one hell of a ride for, in Tempest’s own words, these “five idiots from Sweden.”