The last time I saw EUROPE was in the summer of 1988, opening for DEF LEPPARD. Ronald Reagan was the president, gasoline was 75 cents a gallon, and the Coca-Cola Starplex in Fair Park had just opened. Fast forward twenty-seven years, and I was feeling a little old as the band hit Dallas for the first time in almost three decades, but there was no way I was going to miss this show!
Opening the show each night on their tour of North America is GABBIE RAE, and while I didn’t have much familiarity with her or her band prior to the show, I really enjoyed their set. She and her band played some great sounding original songs from her upcoming album and mixed in a few covers, including tributes to both Lemmy Kilmister (“Ace of Spades”) and the great Ronnie James Dio (“The Last In Line”.) The crowd seemed really into their performance, and they were a great warm-up for the main act, as an opener should be.
EUROPE hit the House of Blues stage a little after 9 pm and completely owned it for the next two hours. Kicking off their set with the title track from their newest album, War of Kings, they played a veritable greatest hits setlist, mostly focusing on the newest album (which is unbelievably excellent) and the three album arc from the band’s North American heyday. They also mixed in a few surprise cuts, including “Wasted Time” from their self titled debut, and a nice tribute to Glenn Frey with a cover of EAGLES “Desperado”.
Out of This World is one of my favorite albums by the Swedish legends, so having “Sign Of The Times”, “Superstitious”, and “Ready Or Not” on the setlist was awesome. I would have loved to have heard a few other tracks from the Europe or Wings of Tomorrow discs, but they’re touring in support of the new album, so I’m sure tough choices had to be made. Likewise, the releases that launched their comeback, Start From the Dark and Secret Society were also unrepresented, but trying to fit ten albums into two hours just doesn’t work. They hit all of the spots that the crowd wanted and put on a fantastic show, culminating with, of course, “The Final Countdown”.
Overall, it was an amazing show by the band. They must have found the fountain of youth somewhere, because they still have an amazing level of energy and really seem like they’re having fun every moment of every song, and hopefully the near capacity venues that they experienced on their run through the United States will convince them to visit us more often. Do not miss them if you have the opportunity to catch EUROPE live!
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: FRANK ZABER/IMAGES FROM THE DARK