Saturday, October 14, 2023

Europe @ Salle Pleyel, Paris - October 14th, 2023


It's 2023 and Europe is playing all over the world in celebration of its forty years as a band. Their Paris show at the old Art Deco concert hall near the Arc de Triomphe was absolutely jam packed, but then again the City of Light was always very supportive of the band, even when the style of music they play had fallen out of favor with the greater audience. What goes around comes around, as they say: they are now playing their timeless tunes in front of three generations of fans.

Billed as "An Evening With Europe", the show adheres to that format with two long sets, introduced by short videos telling the story of the band. Such an overview of Europe's catalog lets you really appreciate what fans have known for decades: the Swedes have found the perfect balance between English Heavy Rock à la UFO and American Journey-style stadium Pop/Rock. It's easy to dismiss them as another 80's fluff metal band, but when hearing all of those wonderful songs back to back one can't help but let go of any cynicism and just headbang along.

Joey Tempest is a very charismatic and engaging frontman, but the real treat is his voice: supple and powerful as ever, somewhere between David Coverdale and Joe Lynn Turner. Guitarist John Norum is highly dexterous, but his phrasing remains tasteful and melodic, channeling Gary Moore and Scorpions-era Uli Jon Roth. Keyboardist Mic Michaeli gives the band their instantly identifiable sound which used to be considered dated but has now acquired the patina of age and is now "vintage". As for bassist John Levén and drummer Ian Haugland, they form a formidable rhythm section that is the bedrock of Europe.

Equally at ease on driving, heavy rockers like Rock The Night or romantic ballads like Carrie, the band took the audience on a journey through 40 years of hits, classics, deep cuts and a surprisingly authentic cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity. The evening could only culminate with one song, the absolute classic The Final Countdown, which had the crowd singing, dancing and jumping up and down for nearly six minutes, hypnotized by its rhythm, its melody and the nostalgia of it all.

This sort of celebration is a powerful testament to the power of music, and also a reminder to see your favorite bands while you can. As youthful and energetic as Europe was last night, the band won't be around for another forty years. They will be coming to a city near you: don't miss them.

Experience or re-live the concert by playing the setlist in the embedded Apple Music player below 

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