It turns out my analogy of a musical feast was quite accurate, with tonight's performance admirably making up the cheese part of the meal.

I turned up at the Hammersmith Apollo – the same venue I'd seen Billy Connolly at – to witness what would probably be a once-in-a-lifetime experience: a Europe gig.

For those not in the know, Europe are a big-hair Swedish rock outfit, fronted by singer/guitarist Joey Tempest, who rose to prominence in 1986 with their hit, The Final Countdown. My personal encumberance with this knowledge was that it was one of the few tapes that we head in the car on our family trip to Byron Bay in 1987, and consequently I now know every song off that album quite well. 2,500 km in a car will do that to you.

On arriving at the venue, the crowd felt like a proper Rock crowd – plenty of big hair, leather, denim, and black t-shirts bearing mastheads of all the crucial musical acts of the time, such as Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Meatloaf, Dio, and of course no shortage of Europe shirts. Oh and there was this one twat who turned up in a bright red Commodore 64 t-shirt. No prizes for guessing who that was…

Oh yeah, there was also this guy there who looked as if he didn't know where he was, and was carrying a plastic bag in one had that looked as if it had 3 or 4 VHS tapes in it. He looked like he didn't quite fit in to the environment, but man did he get into it !

Europe were being supported by a similarly Rock outfit called Hurricane Party, who seemed bewildered yet awestruck to be playing in a venue that size, and I reckon that if the lead guitarist from the support act for Hayseed Dixie the other night had been there he'd have thought it was Christmas, because this was exactly the kind of forum his ridiculous antics belonged in – all the leaping about, headbanging back-to-back with the rhythm guitar player, and the big windmill-arm guitar strum. Roll out the cliches. But it was fun, and the crowd sure went for it.

Then, the main event – Europe. We're talking pure Spinal Tap, Majesty of Rock stuff here. It was more 90's big hair instead of 80's big hair, and they'd dressed it down to black, leather & denim rather than spangly spandex and armour, but it was Rock all the way. Joey Tempest even had a fan positioned at the front of the stage at floor level, so that when he stood in front of it his hair would blow and give him that winsdwept rockstar look.

One of the things I learned was that they had at least 3 albums, because they referred to a song off “their second album”, as well as some new songs, and of course the Final Countdown ablum. So that surprised me a little.

Another Spinal Tap point – they were LOUD. Jeez, I thought the band the other night were loud ? That was just a taster for these guys. I've probably buggered my hearing irreversably because of it (still got a little ringing this morning), but… what a racket.

Again, my camera proved itself a bit substandard for the task of indoor photography – there's only one shot where you can properly see the Marshall stack !

They stuck with mostly their “newer” material for most of the gig – which was being recorded for a DVD, so lookk for that one in the shops soon – however towards the end they pulled out the heavy hitters, to which the crowd correpsondingly went berserk. The soulful ballad, Carrie. The anthemic Rock the Night. The parable on the plight of the American Indian, Cherokee. And of course to take the punters home, The Final Countdown.

I could barely stop giggling. What an awesome performance.

It's a little sad really – I don't have another concert to go to until Saturday week, when I go to see Motorhead.

2004-11-16 : You wouldn’t get far calling it “The Penultimate Countdown”
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