Europe Oxford Academy 21st February 2011
Well here we are exactly a year to the day we are back to see Europe in Oxford this time on the Balls n'Banners tour would tonite live up to last years stunning show. First up hotly tipped UK rockers Voodoo Johnson from Birmingham. Touring in support of last years excellent debut cd "10,000 Horses". Since then they have replaced singer Kev Bayliss with ex Vallenbrosa frontman Nik Taylor-Stoakes would this line up change stop their rise. The answer has to be an emphatic no. Stoakes fits in superbly and their 30 minute set went past in a flash. Starting with 3 off the cd "Headstone","Feel Karma" and "Sin" all with crushing riffs and superb vocal melodies they can only be heading one way.
The Brian Tatler co-penned "Black Skies Mist"from their forthcoming ep again hit the heights with some excellent soloing. Finishing with "Seven Years" off the "Into The Red" ep left everyone in no doubt this is a band to watch. Europe are riding the crest of a wave after the success of last cd "Last Look At Eden" and last years "itunes" and "Sonisphere" Festival appearances. Tonite's gig only showed what consummate professional's they are. Looking like their having a ball they had the sizeable crowd eating out of their hand from the intro "Prelude".
The setlist was as follows:
Prelude Last Look At Eden The Beast Rock The Night Scream Of Anger No Stone Unturned Carrie Getaway Plan The Loner(Gary Moore tribute) 7th Sign New Love In Town Love Is Not The Enemy More Than Meets The Eye Drum solo Gonna Get Ready Start From The Dark Superstitious Encores of Doghouse(new song) Final Countdown.
I went overboard at last years show and will have to do the same again. Superb lighting and sound just made the whole evening fantastic. Joey posed his way through the first 3 songs for the photographers and having "The Beast" at track 2 really showed business.
They are always remembered for only "Countdown" and the ballads but tonite showed what a heavy band they are. The riffs for "The Beast","Getaway Plan","Enemy" and "Start From The Dark" could stop elephants at 5 paces. Moving "Rock The Night" to track 3 showed how confident they are that they can keep the level of performance for the whole night so high. No changes to the "Eden" songs played but all are greeted like old favourites. A welcome return to "More Than Meets The Eye" and a truly stunning tribute to Gary Moore with the instrumental "The Loner"played with such feeling from rock god geetarist John Norum had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.
All the band played a blinder.The backline of Mic Michaeli(keys), John Leven(bass) and Ian Haugland(drums) let the 2 frontmen to do their bit. Joey was in terrific form playing like it was Wembley Stadium and sounding superb and John Norum riffs and solos hit all the notes. His solos tell a story and again seeing him at such close quarters was inspirational. New song "Doghouse" shows the band are looking to the future in a heavier direction again with a stunning solo. Last song "The Final Countdown"never ceases to amaze me. Is there another song that brings such a response from the crowd? Total pandemonium breaks out and everyone leaves with an enormous grin and surely that is what music is supposed to do!! So as you can read in the interview we held with Joey recently they shortly release a Balls n'Banners Earbook and then we get the Shepherds Bush shot live cd/dvd with a new album to be released in 2012. Their star continues to rise and I for one believe the sky is the limit for them. Brilliant. 12/10 ME
(all photos (c) Justine Sutton)