Why is it EVERY time I have to go into that damned city it’s just a recipe for disaster? But I asked for it this time! Even having advanced notice of EUROPE playing the Starland Ballroom right here in Sayreville, New Jersey AND already planning on going to that show, I requested passes to B.B. King’s in N.Y.C.! I figured that it’s been a LONG time since these guys played the United States so I really wanted to see them as much as possible and B.B. King’s is really a GREAT venue… once you get there! Plus it’s pretty easy to get to… right out of the tunnel and straight into the parking garage three blocks away, a two block walk and you’re there! Sounds easy enough, right? HAH!
When we first left on our little romp into the city, it was clear skies. A few minor traffic delays but nothing too bad. By the time we got out of the tunnel, the “monsoon” had swept over the city which immediately brought traffic to a screeching halt! Forty-five minutes later, after being diverted 3 blocks in the opposite direction, we finally make it to the parking garage and begin our trek to the club. Of course, it’s still pouring out so by the time we actually get there, we’re all soaked to the bone. No matter, we made it and all is well… NOT!
Turns out the only smart one amongst the three of us was our own staff writer Mark Balogh who purchased his ticket in advance. My fiancé and I, on the other hand, were expecting to have our passes waiting for us at the door as usual but apparently there was some kind of mix up and our names were left off the list. Now in most cases and at most clubs in the area, the basic attitude of the venue staff would be “Tough Shit!” but I have to give credit where credit is due. The staff at B.B. King’s were absolutely AMAZING. After a short delay, the manager of the club was even nice enough to go back stage and bring out Danny, EUROPE’s road manager, who immediately remedied the situation. I had to actually pinch myself so I would know I wasn’t dreaming! A venue in New York City that actually gives a shit?!? Wow… unheard of! So kudos to the staff at B.B. Kings… you guys are the BEST! FINALLY… the show!
After “swallowing” an opening set by EUROPE’s North American tour openers, a band called GARLIC who were “ok” at best, Joey Tempest and the band hit the stage about 9:15pm. Unbeknownst to me, the show was being broadcast “live” on XM satellite radio and hosted by New York’s favorite “metal” DJ Eddie Trunk. When he came out to introduce the band, the capacity crowd absolutely erupted as EUROPEbroke into a stellar track from their last album (“ Start From The Dark” ) “Got To Have Faith” and you could tell right away these guys weren’t fucking around. EUROPE is DEFINITELY back and better than ever.
The energy emitting from the band just electrified the crowd as the band ripped through EUROPE classics like “Ready Or Not,” “Sign Of The Times,” “Girl From Lebanon” and “Superstitious.” They even included some REAL surprises like the title track from their second album “Wings of Tomorrow” and another treat from their debut, self-titled release called “Seven Doors Hotel” which sounded incredible after all these years. The version they played was “beefed-up” a lot as compared to what it sounded like back then… but then again, most of the old songs sounded a lot heavier and more modern than from what people are use to and filled in nicely when they played tracks from “ Start From The Dark” like “Wake Up Call,” “Flames,” and “America.”
Guitar virtuoso John Norum’s heavy licks and melodies engulfed the venue all night long and the band itself was definitely on! These guys didn’t miss a beat and actually sounded tighter than most bands who have been together for the past twenty years and NOT had that decade apart from each other.
Some other highlights of the evening included a heavily THIN LIZZY influenced track from their last CD called, simply, “Hero” and a soothing, acoustic rendition of the band’s 1986 hit “Carrie” which featured just Joey alone on an acoustic guitar. I kind of missed the keyboards on that track but hey, it was different and just seemed to fit better into the set as an acoustic piece which also gave the other guys in the band a well deserved breather.
The set ended on a high note with a track only available on their “Rock the Night: The Very Best of Europe” CD called “Yesterday’s News” which got everyone in the venue on their feet… followed closely by an all time EUROPE favorite “Rock The Night” which just brought down the house. The encores included the title track from their last CD “Start From The Dark” and finished up with a powerful one/two punch with “Cherokee” and, of course, “The Final Countdown.” The only thing that hit me as rather strange at this point was that the intro to “The Final Countdown” was definitely over-dubbed which had me rather curious as to why? But keyboardist Mic Michaeli kicked it into over-drive from there and really helped bring the song home.
Wow, what a show! I was fortunate enough to get a chance to meet the band afterwards as well and what a GREAT bunch of guys. Very down to earth, very appreciative and just an absolute pleasure to speak with. I was so happy that these guys received such a warm welcome in New York City that I could hardly wait to see what the crowd response was going to be over at the Starland in New Jersey.
- Joey Tempest - Vocals
- John Norum - Guitar
- Ian Haugland - Drums
- John Leven - Bass
- Mic Michaeli - Keyboards
|Set List: (B.B. King's)
- Got To Have Faith
- Ready Or Not
- Wings Of Tomorrow
- Seven Doors Hotel
- Wake Up Call
- -keyboard/drum feature-
- Sign Of The Times
- -band intros/instrumental (guitar feature)-
- Girl From Lebanon
- Yesterday's News
- Rock The Night
- Start >From The Dark
- The Final Countdown