ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY ROGER BROOKS
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY ROGER BROOKS
There was once a time, way back in 1987, when Sweden’s Europe were battling it out with Bon Jovi for most popular rock act in the Australian mainstream music charts. Europe had their mega-hit album The Final Countdown while Bon Jovi were competing with their album Slippery When Wet. Bon Jovi would eventually go on to become a mainstay in the Aussie (and world) charts with hit songs and albums spanning decades, while Europe seemed to disappear right after the huge success of The Final Countdown album.
Chart-wise, Europe essentially became a one-hit-wonder act, remembered only by the general public for the mega-smash single (and album title track) The Final Countdown. Thankfully, rock fans are loyal so, more than thirty years after their mainstream success here in Australia, Europe finally made their way down to Australia, incredibly, for the first time ever. Not only did they bring their Walk the Earth Tour here, but they managed to draw great crowds to see them without even including a co-headliner or even a support act to bolster the numbers.
I arrived at Adelaide’s iconic venue Thebarton Theatre just before ushers called out to the punters gathered at the bar that there was no support and Europe were about to hit the stage. It was only 8pm, unusually early for a headline set to start. As I entered the main room, the lights dimmed, the crowd roared, and I couldn’t help but think that I could well be home by 10pm at this rate.
The band made their way onstage with a backdrop of shadowy light and smoke. Frontman Joey Tempest made his entrance in theatrical style, a silhouette, momentarily frozen in a side-on rock pose with microphone stand held high, before bursting into action as the opening song kicked in. Rather than his giant mane of long 80s hair-metal hair, Joey now reminds me of a cross between 70s teen idol David Cassidy and Tom Cruise’s portrayal of Rock of Ages character Stacee Jaxx. This is not at all a criticism. After all of these years, Adelaide finally was given the classic 1980s rock performance that it missed back in 1987. Joey was the epitome of a classic rock star throughout this performance. There was microphone swinging, mic-stand twirling and plenty of encouragement for the crowd to clap along with hands in the air, all while delivering the vocals powerfully and sounding as great as I’d hoped he would. The rest of the band was made up of the classic Final Countdown line-up of John Leven on bass guitar, Ian Haugland on drums, Mic Micheali on keys, and John Norum on guitar. With Joey working the crowd from the front of the stage, the band delivered perfectly behind him. The guitar solos from John Norum sounded spot-on and the tunes sounded just like they do on the albums, played to perfection and with a fantastic mix through the P.A, which isn’t always achieved in this grand old venue.
After an hour of songs, a nice mix spanning the band’s career, Joey announced that they’d be back and the house lights suddenly came on. After the initial shock of thinking that the gig had come to an incredibly early end, it was soon apparent to everyone that this was an intermission, a rare feature at a rock gig.
Half an hour later, it was time for the second half of the show as Europe returned to the stage with the same energy as they had left it with. Although the band continued on with the same enthusiasm, it felt as though the crowd had lost a little momentum after their break at the bar. It didn’t take long for the room to get back up to speed though, as the second half of the set contained a lot of Final Countdown album tracks which went down the best with the crowd, including Cherokee, power-ballad Carrie and of course, the set closer and encore The Final Countdown.
By the time the house lights did come on to end the show, it was clear that there didn’t need to be a support act or co-headliner tonight. Europe delivered a performance well worth the price of admission and from the look on the faces of the punters and they filed out of the theatre, it had been worth the 30-year wait to finally see the band here in Australia. Hopefully this isn’t the last time we see Europe performing here as I’m sure there will be so much positive feedback after this tour that it will create even more demand for future tours from the band.
Review Contributed by Kym Robey
Max Watts in Melbourne seems such a perfect venue to enjoy the contemporary offerings of LA Guns, thanks to On Tour Presents. As one descends hallowed staircase and is greeted by the tremendous staff of this venue, a particular feeling of awe washes over prompted by the notion that this will be the very first time Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns will have played in Melbourne together…ever.
The Kids (not, not from Belgium) kicked off proceeding, lacking not one ounce of enthusiastic delivery. More bouncing, rocking and bustin’ a move than one could possibly wish for on a Friday night and The Kids greeted the inward flow of excited patrons in fine form.
Eightball Junkies followed up with a killer set of solid numbers and delivered brilliantly. Vocalist Will Vaughan announced that the band had written a track last Wednesday, played it in Brisbane the next night and were not sure how it went down. After pumping out Year Of The Dog to a delighted Melbourne audience, I think it’s fair to say that you’re onto a winner there lads. A fantastic track and cranked out to perfection much like an astonishing cover of Rebel Yell that would have Billy Idol himself uttering “fuck off mate, that’s awesome” in finest cockney accent. A fantastic set that had the room suitably warmed for the arrival of Sisters Doll.
Sisters Doll…These lads are an awesome Aussie glam rock outfit but 2 encores? Yes, the crowd demanded two encores. Presumably that says it all, but to make you a little more jealous of what you missed, Sisters Doll absolutely slayed their set and set the bay way up aloft any who would dare follow. Fortunately its L.A. Guns, so no issue there but Sisters Doll can be extremely proud of a performance that will be spoken about long after we have forgotten where it occurred and who they were supporting. This performance will stand out in my memory as a top notch headline performance, albeit a shortened version. Bravura Sisters Doll. That got the blood pumping. Wow.
With only a few moments to catch up with industry identities before the headline act and a chance to shoot the shit instead of share the pit with brilliant globetrotting rock photographer Paul Miles lead, us both to reflect what a historic moment this really is. The very first time that L.A. Guns perform live Australia with Phil and Tracii, each band member a huge identity in rock history here assembled in one place, a fifteen year fuel put to rest by The Missing Peace all culminate into what is sure to be an unmissable show. Or so I thought.
The truth is that with the first notes played and the vocal delivery of Phil, the breath was removed from my lungs, brought goose bumps to my flesh and mouth left agape in bewildered awe. To see these legends of rock reunited and the mighty L.A. Guns in full flight is one memory neither frail infirmity nor the marching years will ever tear from my recollection.
Electric Gypsy and No Mercy allowed a slow return back to terra firma from my lofty heights of rock elation, but still the vision before me was one I could scarcely believe. I watched in reflection a Tracii took bow to guitar for his solo routine but Bitch is Back is when I genuinely felt how overwhelmed by the mammoth importance of this most momentous occasion. This one gem from the 1988 debut album brought home to roost, how the lost years were repaired and the most magnificent L.A. Guns were back delivering a balanced measure of the old and the new…and it’s real.
Perhaps I make too much of this event and allow my inner rock teen to revel and celebrate unrestrained but as I think back to a pre tour interview with Phil Lewis and ask him to describe his magical reunion with Tracii, I believe the answer lies therein. I hope that this tour and the years since finding The Missing Peace are providing the entire band, but particularly Phil and Tracii with a feeling close to what is being experienced by us here tonight.
As the set list rolled on and continued to Rip and Tear an L.A. Guns sized hole in our rock souls, the overwhelming reality that the quality of the bands performance and the overwhelming appeal of their contemporary offerings combine into a show that belongs in an arena before thousands of adoring fans. Perhaps with the stops removed along with an onward and upwards attitude from the band, we should count ourselves as extremely fortunate that they were so close for us to enjoy.
But it’s over all too soon. L.A. Guns could start this set again and there would be nothing but cheers and cries of elation from this crowd and not one would head for the door. This was one of those extremely special events that are a rarely in our lives. A relatively intimate show with a perfect reunion and a perfect band, launching the appeal of the night into legendary, arena scale significance.
Thank you L.A. Guns. This was an experience I for one will never forget. I beg you people of Australia, people of the world…do not miss this opportunity to experience a truly historic rock event, cram packed with shredding, pounding, screaming rock appeal and performance perfection.
Review Contributed by Casper
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY LYNDA BUCHANAN
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
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY JOSE SANCHEZ
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY OUTBACK BOB
Metal heads rejoice! Brazilian metal icons Sepultura visit Australia with Bay Area thrashers Death Angel in tow. The crowd extremely dense around the bar proudly displaying their favourite band shirts with many in previous Sepultura tour shirts as far back as the 90s.
Local thrashers Metreya warm up the crowd before Death Angel take to the stage to a healthy size crowd which grew consistently throughout their set.
Death Angel pummel through a tight set with smiles impossible to wipe off all members faces. Drummer Will Carroll worked tirelessly, even being the only member doused in sweat only a few tracks in. The pit was In full swing with fists high to sky to mimic those of vocalist Mark Osegueda. Let’s hope the crowd has left some energy in their reserve tanks after that!
The banner of Sepultura’s new album Machine Messiah, in which they are currently touring in support of, hangs high across the stage as the anticipation in the venue intensifies.
Low ambient red lights only just illuminate the stage to make out the silhouette of Eloy Cassandre take place on his kit, which is about to endure a beating.
As each member waltz on stage, the crowd seemingly unprepared to the immediate assault of I Am The Enemy, Derrick armed with his own drum and microphone leads the show into the first track with the pit taking until the chorus to begin moving at their potential.
The energy never waivers from each and every member on the stage. Andreas Kisser carries the singalongs with members of the crowd, each solo more epic as they come.
We are treated to the Chaos AD classic Territory only a few songs in which truly ignites the crowd into a frenzy of bodies bouncing around the floor.
The title of the latest album Machine Messiah is mentioned many times this evening, as the new songs are thrown at the crowd on after the other including Sworn Oath. Brazilian flags are raised high in the crowd, as a conversation ensues about soccer, sorry, football! With flags being draped over both Andreas and Paula’s amps. Before Green calls everyone out saying ‘it’s Sepultura time right now!’ returning the crowds focus to the music.
Kisser takes the mic to celebrate 20 years of Derrick being the front man of Sepultura to mammoth cheers. Followed by a few tracks from the first album they released with Green, Against including Choke and Boycott.
Eloy has got to be my live favourite drummer to watch his concentration is unprecedented and the intensity in which he annihilates is just astounding. The larger than life Green puffs his chest out with arms reaching the sky asking the crowd ‘Are you ready to bow down to the Machine Messiah?’ Before launching into the title track. Seminal Sep tracks Refuse Resist and Arise close out the night, although the crowd know not to go anywhere.
The band return to the stage to demand a singalong for Ratamahatta before hurling into the ultimate crowd pleaser Roots.
It was a night of incredible metal performances, with the crowd pouring out sweaty and happy.
Review Contributed by Megan Milner
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY LYNDA BUCHANAN
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY TRACIE TEE