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Europe / King King (Manchester) http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/9c/28/17/Europe-Joey-Tempest-Live-Rocktopia-Thumb-83-1538776206.jpg Hot

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Europe / King King - O2 Academy, Manchester (UK) - 14 September 2018

This brilliant double-header was kicked off by the excellent King King. There appeared to be well over two thousand fans already in attendance when the hard rocking Blues band hit the stage and opened the show with '(She Don't) Gimme No Lovin''; still, in my humble opinion, the best song Thunder never wrote. Glaswegian Alan Nimmo is the focus of the group with his blistering guitar and gritty, yet soulful vocals. However, King King are no one-trick pony and Nimmo was ably supported by Lindsay Coulson on bass, Wayne Proctor on drums and Jonny Dyke on Hammond Organ/keyboards.

The album that was represented the most was 2015's phenomenal 'Reaching For The Light', an album that has provided many staples from their live shows like 'Waking Up', 'You Stopped The Rain', 'Rush Hour' and set closer 'Stranger To The Light'; the latter saw the crowd afford the band a greater respect than their recent headlining show at HRH-Blues. The seven-song set also featured 'A Long History Of Love'. At times, you would be forgiven for not thinking this was the headline act such was the atmosphere within the Academy. What's so impressive about King King is that they are equally at home in front of a Hard Rock audience as they are a Blues crowd.

It's great to see a band pay respect to their past as well as continuing to deliver new music. Europe don't just live off past glories, nor do they forget their heritage, and perfectly combine all eras of their history. The crowd consisted of all age groups and it was evident from the start ("from the dark") that they had not just turned out to witness "that song".

The effective lighting served to provide striking silhouettes of the band members, but at times, this also made it difficult to see their features. The sound was loud but clear and accompanied by a great mix. Both new and old material were greeted with equal enthusiasm. The opening songs from their latest studio album ('Walk The Earth'), the title track and the powerful 'The Siege', started the show in a Heavy Rock style and it was evident from the get-go that the band were as tight nowadays as they've ever been. Joey Tempest arguably sounded better than ever, occasionally he talked to the audience but generally just allowed the music to do the talking. He did quip on a couple of occasions, "Sorted!", in reference to being in Manchester, although, to be honest, it seemed lost on most punters; also, it was not that funny.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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'Rock The Night' benefited from the beefier sound of the band since their reformation. Up next was my favourite song from 2012's 'War Of Kings', the superb 'Hole In My Pocket'. John Norum is a fantastic guitarist and I'd forgotten how "Metal" he can be at times, especially when played the Flying V during tonight's show. 'Last Look At Eden' was tremendous and Tempest took time to explain that 'New Love In Town' was written following the birth of his son.

I particularly enjoyed 'Firebox' and 'Riches To Rags' that were lifted from 'Bag Of Bones', my favourite post-reformation album. A couple of songs from 1988's 'Out Of This World' opus, 'Ready Or Not' and the superb 'Superstitious', received great receptions. A keyboard intro from Mic Michael to 'Turn To Dust' preluded Europe going all Heavy Metal on us. This was followed by 'GTO', the song being a last minute edition written at the Abbey Road Studios for the 'Walk The Earth' album and arguably the best song on that release.

Europe are one of the few bands that have aged well since the eighties and bass player John Levén looked like he clearly gives Tempest a run for his money in the Dorian Gray stakes. The surprise of the evening was just how good the power ballad 'Carrie' came across; the album version could be deemed to be very cheesy but here it was sublime. The oldest song, 'Scream Of Anger' from 1984's 'Wings Of Tomorrow', was another highlight. I'm not normally a fan of drum solos (Neil Peart notwithstanding) but Ian Haugland mercifully kept his brief and cleverly played it to a taped, backing track of the 'William Tell Overture'.

The main set concluded with 'War Of Kings' and the aforementioned 'Superstitious', the latter also included a snippet of the Whitesnake classic 'Here I Go Again'. The band then briefly left the stage before they then returned for a two-song encore of 'Cherokee' and "that song". There can be little argument, there are very few finer songs to conclude a show than 'The Final Countdown' which totally encapsulates the eighties.

The Melodic Rock World is the one place where Europe will always be welcome in the UK.

Mark Donnelly

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