Ulster Hall, Belfast • 11 September ’18
Words: Chantelle Frampton • Photos: Tremaine Gregg
Everyone has heard of the famous 80s track The Final Countdown. However, Swedish band Europe are so much more than just one great song. With an incredible career spanning over 39 years and eleven albums they are a true staple to the rock genre. They brought their anticipated Walk the Earth tour to Belfast’s Ulster Hall on Tuesday night and they did not disappoint. With the crowd firmly in the palm of their hands throughout the evening, they proved to us why they are still a force to be reckoned with after nearly four decades of music.
The night kicked off with rock/blues band King King. They were met with cheers as they made their way onto the stage before going into their first track, (She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’. Their set started out very strong as singer and guitarist Alan Nimmo was incredibly confident and the music was interesting and classic blues rock. I felt it became slightly repetitive towards the end of the setlist. However, the crowd reacted very positively, and the applause grew as more people made their way into the venue.
As Ulster Hall quickly filled with eager fans, the excitement was growing as we awaited our main headliners. Following an ominous, orchestral introduction, the band came on stage before lead singer Joey Tempest ran on stage, grabbed the mic stand and dramatically started spinning it around before going into their first track Walk the Earth. They had everyone entranced within the first few seconds of the song as they completely changed the dynamic of the room.
It was evident from the beginning of the setlist the band were clever with their track selection. They included newer tracks mixed with older classics to ensure fans from across their career were happy and entertained. There was such a quick turnaround of new and old with switches between newer tracks such as The Siege followed by the 80s classics like Rock the Night.
Lead singer Joey stole the show throughout the evening. His constant dancing and movement around the stage that can only be described as a type of rock ‘vogue’ was mesmerising to watch. No matter how much he moved around or interacted with other band members, his voice never weakened and was flawless throughout. He also made an incredible effort to interact with his Belfast audience with remarks such as “How’s the craic?” and “Yous are hallions”. Each time was met with laughter from the audience.
Whilst Joey was difficult to take your eyes off, every member on stage had their moment to take to the spotlight. John Norum’s frequent guitar solos were mesmerising as well as Ian Haugland’s intense drum solo. Mic Michaeli’s keyboard playing was comparable to Rick Wakeman of Yes and John Leven’s heavy bass lines and suave attitude on stage added another dimension to the set.
As the gig went on we were treated to gems such as Last Look at Eden, War of Kings, Carrie and the slower track New Love in Town. They also added elements of spontaneity as they were going to play Scream for Anger before Joey announced they changed their mind “five minutes ago” and instead opted to play the classic Wasted Time.
The fast pace of the evening meant that the crowd’s excitement never had a chance to settle. As soon as everyone was finished singing and dancing to a track their enthusiasm doubled with the next song.
While the entire evening was a dynamic and exciting event the moment everyone was waiting for was the encore. The guys came back out and performed the much-loved Cherokee before going into their most famous track The Final Countdown. As soon as the intro started people were cheering and screaming. It would have been difficult to find someone in the room that was not singing along.
Europe undoubtedly gave Belfast an amazing night of music that will not be forgotten. They owned the Ulster Hall on Tuesday night and it cannot be denied that Joey Tempest is an incredibly underrated front man. They proved that they can sing tracks from 1984 or 2017 and still have everyone in the room singing along.