Europe @ Tradgar’n, Gothenburg (SE)

EUROPE / THE VINTAGE CARAVAN

Date: 23rd September, 2015
Venue: Trädgår’n
Ticket: 425SEK (€43/$48)
Promoter: Livenation
Photos: Erika Wallberg


A lukewarm September Wednesday lured a lot of people out of their homes to Trädgår’n to witness Sweden’s pride EUROPE on a headlining show. Although, I’ve never really been a fan of the band I liked some of their songs but not as much as my friends did sometime during the mid-80’s.

Iceland’s THE VINTAGE CARAVAN opened the night though and for a while it seemed like it would be a sparsely crowded event. Ok, both doors and gig-time were earlier than normal so perhaps this didn’t leave enough time to get home from work and change for a show. It’s hard for a trio to fill the stage at Trädgår’n, even if the drums are set in front of the headliners' backline. At most, it worked really well, it was just on a few occasions that it felt rather empty up there or actually that the guys tried too hard entertain that it didn’t really fit in with the atmosphere in the music or their visual appearance of the band.

But for sure, it was good! There’s nothing to complain about regarding THE VINTAGE CARAVAN’s musical performance. Although it was a trio the band delivered a full sound and while Óskar Logi Ágústsson was playing solos, bass player Alexander Örn Númason did a very good work filling the gap the rhythm guitars left. There were two songs that really stood out for me; heavy “Babylon” and perhaps the most “Carousel” which had both very mellow, almost acoustic parts to some really groovy passages. Especially impressive was Óskar’s pedal board at the size a space shuttle, used tastefully though and to get all these fantastic sounds out of an old Telecaster guitar. This sure proves that knowing your stuff and how to handle them is what counts. I just loved the variation in the music and the many passages of just jamming. I’m a bit allergic against these retro bands, regardless of the decade they try to sound like but THE VINTAGE CARAVAN actually managed to convince me they had a lot of themselves into the music also, which normally isn’t the case. And this can be tagged to the many instrumental passages present in THE VINTAGE CARAVAN's music; this really showed their skills and talent and definitely was what got me hooked.

THE VINTAGE CARAVAN

The Vintage Caravan @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) The Vintage Caravan @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) The Vintage Caravan @ Tragar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) The Vintage Caravan @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) The Vintage Caravan @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg)
The Vintage Caravan @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) The Vintage Caravan @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) The Vintage Caravan @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) The Vintage Caravan @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) The Vintage Caravan @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg)

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Of course most people had come for EUROPE and the venue got packed at gig-time. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Trädgår’n that packed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the balconies open for the crowed ever before. It sure is a good confirmation that EUROPE still is a force to be reckoned with. Ok, as I said, I never really was a fan back in the day even if they reached stardom just at the right age for me. All my friends were huge fans but for some reason it never struck me as hard. I’ve come around since and in one way it’s a little bit sad that I had ignored EUROPE when I had the opportunity to see them in their glory days. Reading the books written about the band I learned that during the mid-80s the front rows were occupied by young girls. It was actually almost the same for this show although the difference was that most of the young girls had their mom’s behind them. Still, there were mainly females in the front. Great fun to see, that you never get too old to rock.

And that’s not only for the crowd. EUROPE still have the whole package. For sure, they’ve all gotten older but their ock-star brilliance shines as strong as ever. Joey Tempest’s voice has matured and he even touched upon David Coverdale style with that raspy soul in his voice, very suitable for the newer material. John Norum felt a little bit stiff initially but during the second or third song he really woke up and started showing off his true talent, his tone is absolutely fantastic and the variation in his style, between Blues and Heavy Metal is very appealing.

Indeed, the last few albums EUROPE have released meet both the performance material and the song quality standards. “War Of Kings”, the title track from the new album, opened the show with “Hole n My Pocket” following back to back. The support was good from the start, at least from the front row but there was a huge difference in volume from the crowd as EUROPE kicked off the third song of the set, “Superstitious”. And this is where I start to contradict myself. I was really looking forward to riding down the nostalgia lane (I’ve listened a lot to the records even if not being a big fan), since I’ve read a lot about EUROPE these past few months and browsed through youtube for all live-clips I could find. On the other hand, I really want bands to play their new stuff and not only live on old merits. So with this, I can’t say anything about the selection of songs, which 12 out of 20 was from the coming-back time and just 8 from the old records. And for me, of course not the ones I wanted to hear the most.

Title track from “Last Look At Eden” was received really well and when EUROPE kicked off “New Love In Town” from the same record I realized I haven’t listened enough to this. Both are fantastic songs but I can say I didn’t realize just how fabulous “New Love In Town” was until that hot night at Trädgår’n. I really thought that “Ready Or Not” would get some very good response but there wasn’t many that caught Joey’s attempt to kick off the song in an a Capella very bluesy way. He eventually got the response and the song took off. Still the crowd, at least in the back remained mellow so I started to think it was a little too late to get it all going. “Girl From Lebanon” got some really good response though but it seemed that people were getting tired. Ok, I can’t say that the major part of the crowd was the regular concert goers and perhaps 1h45 minutes is too much music for most. They stayed throughout the show at least.

So, EUROPE delivered exactly what I want a band to do and everything sounded fantastic. The fact I’m not fully on track with their “War of Kings” release is my problem, also that I expected something different from them. But there’s no complaining on anything really. Ok, maybe the encore which consisted of only “The Final Countdown”, which of course became a great effect with the intro and the trademark initial notes. But I think EUROPE could have spent a few more minutes and add one more to the list before “The Final Countdown”. But it was a good show and I assume I will see myself becoming a fan after all.

EUROPE setlist:

01. “War Of Kings”
02. “Hole In My Pocket”
03. “Superstitious”
04. “Scream Of Anger”
05. “Last Look At Eden”
06. “New Love In Town”
07. “The Second Day”
08. “Firebox”
09. “Sign Of The Times”
10. “Praise You”
11. “The Beast”
12. “Ready Or Not”
13. “Vasastan” (instrumental)
14. “Girl From Lebanon”
15. “Nothin' To Ya”
16. Drum Solo
17. “Let The Good Times Rock”
18. “Rock The Night”
19. “Days Of Rock 'N' Roll
20. “The Final Countdown”

EUROPE

Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg)
Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg)
Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg)
Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Europe @ Tradgar’n (SE) (photos by Erika Wallberg)

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