Poodle perms were on parade as I made my way to the iconic Palais Theatre on a cold Melbourne night. Evidence that many punters had still not let go of 80’s glam rock dream, proud to display their shaggy hair and bandanas. But however they looked, the fans came in force, a sea of black band t-shirts filing in to take their seats. With no support act the stage was set with the Europe backdrop holding pride of place centre stage. The merch line was ridiculously long, testament to Melbourne fans supporting music, happy to fork out for a memento of the night, especially when it has been such a long wait to see Europe grace our shores for the first time.
As the lights dropped it was like watching a Mexican wave as the hoards stood row by row right to the very back, I knew from the get go this was not going to be a sit down show! Opening with Walk The Earth off their sensational latest album of the same name, front man Joey Tempest blew me away with his stellar vocals right from the first note. Working the stage with ease, a seasoned professional on every level. The Siege followed then one of my favourites Rock The Night, which I thought ended a bit briefly only to morph into Whole Lotta Rosie by AC/DC, it worked spectacularly well and the fans loved it. We then got Rock The Night back to its completion much to my delight. The sound was exceptionally good, the mixing perfect, the drums punchy, it was everything you could have wanted in a top class rock show. Highlights from the first set were Danger On The Track, Sign Of The Times and the stunning Vasastan instrumental performed by gun guitarist John Norum. Once again the sound was pristine and the lighting added another level to make this jaw-droppingly amazing. Joey took to the guitar for Open Your Heart followed by Heart Of Stone and Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The master of the twirling microphone stand, Joey worked it like it was an extension of his body, when he wasn’t twirling the stand he was flipping the microphone itself making it look like child’s play. Not happy with staying on the stage he took to the crowd much to everyone’s surprise. Taking time to shake hands, high five and even hug a few fans along the way. The crowd were extremely respectful, just happy for the opportunity.
Seeing out the first set was the hit Superstitious, the fans punching the air loving every minute. Queue the second mash up of the night with Here I Go Again by Whitesnake added in for an extra sing-a-long during the song for some added flavour. Now if that isn’t a first set to write home about I don’t know what is! We all took the opportunity to rehydrate and rest our legs for a quick break before we got to do it all again.
Ready or Not got us started with so many songs flying out it was hard to keep up. The epic Seven Doors Hotel had me lost for words, to hear it live was sensational and a huge highlight of the night. Every chick had their phone out for Carrie catching a little video to salivate over later, the crowd sang loud and proud (even the fellas!) with all of us taking over the vocals to finish out the song.
The lights dropped the stage was black and the William Tell Overture blasted out of the speakers, a few punters looked stunned, what was going on? I will tell you exactly what, one of the sickest drum solos I have ever witnessed. The combination was exemplary, who’d have thought you could double bass to Rossini, it was a magnificent addition to the show, perfect length and amazing sound. Ian Haugland you must be commended, your skin hitting was perfection on every level.
Bass player John Leven the glue keeping the show running smoothly as they launched into Stormwind, Prisoners in Paradise and GTO. Audience participation was huge with Joey constantly getting us to clap and sing along he even took his turn on the tamborine from time to time. Europe’s trademark sound belongs to none other than keyboard player Mic Michaeli, the electronic anthems echoing from his fingers making the music we all know and love. After a brief moment to catch their breath off stage, the band were back and Cherokee rang out, the fans were going crazy and the momentum was building for what could only be The Final Countdown. As the familiar intro belted out the Palais was lifted to a whole new level and if the roof wasn’t so high I’m sure we would have raised it! An amazing finish to what was rock music at it finest. As the final bows were taken the applause was huge, we were all so grateful to witness Europe in the flesh in our home town. While they may be named after a continent they delivered the world and more to the Melbourne fans.
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale