There have been any number of ensemble attempts to weld anthemic rock to chart pop to rock 'n roll itself, Phenomena and Mass were two interesting but ultimately failed examples. The legion of regrettable albums that actually made it—Night Ranger et al—saw monetary success but simultaneously made serious music fans and even half-serious critics alike wince with embarrassment. Whitesnake cured that to a degree, mainly due to the presence of vocalist David Coverdale, and Europe, a Swedish ensemble, took things a step further due to the guitar work of John Norum and writing of singer Joey Tempest. For one thing, Norum wields an earthier six-strings than most in such bands while his competitive counterparts elsewhere tend to the tweedly side of the sonics. If Europe knows one thing, it's that ya gotta have that bottom end, and there's plenty of it here.
Tempest, and I have to say I was surprised to realize he wrote the lion's share of the band's numbers, vocally occupies a mid-ground between Coverdale and Glenn Hughes (many will remember those two from their duet appearance in Deep Purple—and, Christ, what the fuck was the late Jon Lord thinking in succeeding prime screamer Ian Gillan with Coverdale when Hughes is one of the best rock has ever seen??? I'm still pulling out the shoulder length hair I no longer have over that one), and the gents have an attractive visual appearance, kinda like Black Sabbath meets Aerosmith, while blazoning the usual spectacular galaxy of ten billion lights, smoke, etc. Americans will recall the band most by its triple platinum The Final Countdown, produced by Journey's producer Kevin Elson, but the lads have been doing quite well over in the land they took their ID from.
The gig started in 1979, broke up just after the start of 1992, and got then back together at the tail end of 2003, carrying through to this 2013 event, thus I'm not sure how they arrived at the idea that this is their 30th anniversary—the bastards are as bad at math as I am, f'chrissakes—but that hardly matters. What you get in Live at Sweden Rock is a fast-paced 28 songs in a program of 80 minutes of solid radio hard rock that includes all the gents' top songs as well as a cover of Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak (with Scott Gorham sitting in) and UFO's Lights Out (with Mike Schenker) and even a bit of, heh!, Monty Python's Sit on my Face!
One of the in-your-face secrets of the Europe sound is the ambiance of Mic Michaeli's keyboards. I mean, he's right there, ya can't miss 'im, but his work is a lot subtler than most such ivory ticklers yet accounts for a huge part of the group's colorations. He ain't no Jordan Rudess or Vitali Kuprij, but without him Europe would have a much different sound. Tony Carey might be the closest comparative, and thus it's easy to see why the UFO and Thin Lizzy bands would stand as materials Europe would take on. One thing's for sure, though, these bad boys never lost it despite a lengthy hiatus, and there's a lot to like in this DVD.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles