Europe / King King
London Royal Albert Hall
A magical night of powerhouse tunery.
Have you noticed how American bands not only tell audiences which city they’re from, but also in what state it is? King King mainman Alan Nimmo follows this example by announcing that he’s from “Glasgow. In Scotland.” The fact that he’s wearing a kilt and has a broad Scottish accent should be a hint to us that he’s not from Glasgow in Tennessee…
But such is the encouraging crowd reaction to the band that, before long, there will be no need for a geography lesson. King King have matured into a high grade melodic hard rock foursome, reminiscent of early-80s Whitesnake or Bad Company from the previous decade. They perform a slew of memorable songs like (She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’, A Long History Of Love and the stunning Stranger To Love. Nimmo is an emotional vocalist and a passionate guitarist, and the whole band look to be on course for bigger things.
During King King’s Rush Hour, Joey Tempest can be seen kneeling at the side of the stage. Whether he’s checking out his support band, or gauging the fans and the atmosphere of this venerable venue is open to speculation. But from the moment the vocalist and the rest of Europe step into Walk The Earth and The Siege, it’s clear that everyone is in their thrall.
The band’s classic line-up is still intact, and while many others would use this as an excuse to peddle nostalgia, Europe avoid such a trap because they’re determined to celebrate more recent material. This showcases a tougher, edgier approach, one reflected in an image that has long since eschewed the poodle perms and glam clothing in favour of a more streetwise style.
Much of last year’s excellent Walk The Earth album is played, and this appeals to Europe’s younger fans. They are attracting a new generation, clearly won over by recent, heavier albums which have taken the Swedes back to their Deep Purple-esque roots. But they don’t make the mistake of ignoring the big songs from the 80s, through which the band were catapulted to fame. So while Pictures and Turn To Dust confirm a relevance to 2018, these are balanced by the earlier likes of Rock The Night and Carrie.
Tempest himself has a flowing, elegant ease out front, even going for a brief walkabout into the crowd on either side of the stage, while guitarist John
Norum gets the chance to show his virtuoso chops on the instrumental Vasastan, even if he nearly trips over his guitar lead. And drummer Ian Haugland indulges in a highly entertaining solo spot, as he plays along to a recording of the William Tell Overture (well, the Proms season has only just finished at the Royal
Albert Hall after all).
Scream Of Anger takes us back to the band’s second album, 1984’s Wings Of Tomorrow, while War Of Kings is a final nod to the contemporary era, before Superstitious ends the set, and even includes a brief snippet from Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again, which slots in smoothly.
Maybe it’s because everyone knows they’ll be back for an encore – and that song – but the crowd reaction is a little muted. However, things are ramped up for Cherokee, before the opening chords to, you guessed it, The Final Countdown bring hysteria. So much more famous than the band, it’s now a mainstream mainstay, and Tempest really doesn’t need to sing anything – the fans do it anyway. It’s the only way any Europe gig should conclude. But this band are now better than ever, as they do not rely solely on the past.
Joey Tempest: a singer with “a flowing, elegant ease out front”. Europe: attracting a new generation, won over by recent, heavier albums. King King’s Alan Nimmo:“I’m from Scotland!” We’d never have guessed.