Europe - The Garage 2009

Touring Eden
London - November 1
Capacity 630

Ahead of an intense run through Germany this year, and a full European tour next year which brings them to the UK with Diamond Head in tow, this small show, sponsored by Classic Rock, stood as a one-off intimate warm-up, and sold out almost immediately.

The Garage, now carrying owners Relentless Energy Drinks' name, has somehow managed to double its capacity within the same building, and although it looks like a much cleaner venue now, with a brand new ceiling and better layout, the tiny stage and tendency to over-estimate the number of people it can comfortably accommodate, still make it one of the more uncomfortable venues in London, along with the Underworld in Camden and when sold-out the ridiculous Barfly.

But this was meant to be one of those small, hot and sweaty gigs about which the fans could all say "I was there" in years to come, so the venue was all part of the atmosphere, as was the band's willingness to try new things in the set, and their stripped down stage show. Europe's newest album, a third excellent entry in their new heavier sound, has already achieved Gold status in Sweden, and this show would inevitably see them debut some songs from it before the proper tour, with only the title track having been played live up to this point.

In that vein, an obvious but wholly effective opening would surely be the album intro Prelude as an intro tape and the album's first two songs Last Look At Eden and Gonna Get Ready, two big riffs and two hard-rocking tracks. And so it would be, with those fans familiar with the disc greeting them enthusiastically. The ever popular Superstitious followed, its near-acapella opening and grooving riff pulling a huge roar from the capacity crowd and a newly included snippet of Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry raising a few eyebrows.

Several usual suspects packed out most of the rest of the set, including Let The Good Times Rock and Sign of The Times from Out of This World, Scream of Anger, Start From The Dark and evergreen '80s cliché (but undeniably fun) Rock The Night. Always The Pretenders and Love Is Not The Enemy were the only returning tracks from previous album Secret Society, and Seventh Sign from 1991's Prisoners In Paradise was brought in from the wilderness, and a welcome inclusion it was at that for most of the older fans.

The trial of new songs from Last Look At Eden ended around the middle of the set and surprisingly didn't include U Devil U which had partnered the album's title track on an EP before the album's release. Instead ballad and new single New Love In Town, and hard-rocking No Stone Unturned were premiered, with the latter coming across particularly well in the live environment.

Coming out for the encore, when Joey Tempest started talking about the influence of English rock music on the band in their youth the expected cover to follow would surely have been Since I've Been Lovin' You (Led Zeppelin), which they played live on the last tour, but instead they launched into a rousing version of UFO's Only You Can Rock Me, which went over the heads of some and was rapturously received by the rest.

The anthemic keyboard riff that's still capable of sending chills down the spine heralded The Final Countdown (depressingly the only song some members of the audience clearly came to see) which has lost none of its energy or appeal in the 23 years since its release (surviving the horrific millennium remix) and its set-closing power is undebateable. Europe are rocking harder then ever now, with three heavy albums under their belt, and the new sound suits them down to the ground, beefing up some of the older songs in the process. The full tour next year, with a big stage production promised by Tempest, should be one of the rock highlights of 2010.

“ one of those small, hot and sweaty gigs ”

Setlist: Last Look At Eden / Gotta Get Ready / Superstitious / Love Is Not The Enemy / Sign of The Times / Always The Pretenders / No Stone Unturned / New Love In Town / Scream of Anger / John Norum guitar solo > Optimist > Seventh Sign / Let The Good Times Rock / Start From The Dark / Rock The Night // Only You Can Rock Me / The Final Countdown

Photo(s): Christie Goodwin | www.ccphotoart.biz

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2009, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock,

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