31 Years Ago, EUROPE Released “The Final Countdown”

On this day, 31 years ago, EUROPE released “The Final Countdown”. Whatever I say from this point onward would be totally pointless and you may as well just not read it…I mean, what could I possibly say about one of the biggest rock albums of the ’80s? Which fancy musical terms and pop culture references would be suitable enough to describe this glorious album? None…absolutely none;

Still, since I just saw EUROPE for the first time in my life and on top of it all, it was a continuation of their “The Final Countdown 30th Anniversary Tour”, I felt like I should write a little something to commemorate the 31st birthday of this album (even if it’s just a boring description of how great and empowering this album is).

europe the final countdownEurope already had the talent, the potential and the charisma to become a worldwide rock sensation but ultimately, it was “The Final Countdown” that was responsible for their international breakout. In addition to the great lyrical and musical value, I guess one of the most appealing aspects of this album was that each song has its own unique background and history that in a couple of cases goes way before Europe even thought about releasing this album. Take the title song for example – Joey Tempest composed that riff in the early ’80s when he was so young! Thankfully he didn’t use it back then. You know what they say, timing is everything! This song appeared exactly when it had to on the right album, with the right producer. It just all fell into place. Those David Bowie-inspired lyrics were just the final piece of the puzzle. Voila! We ended up with this stimulating, life-changing, eye-opening tornado of a song that we can’t just let go, even after 30 years.

The second track, “Rock the Night” is arguably the best track from the album and if you ask me, it should’ve been the opening track (and “The Final Countdown” should’ve been left as the grand finale). Two tracks of such equal strength together in the same album, one after the other – that’s something!

What else is there? Oh, right…that GORGEOUS “little” tear-jerker power ballad, “Carrie” which may as well be titled “Cryyie”.

“Cherokee” …OH! Marching on the trail of tears! I will never forget how happy I was when they played that song in front of me; Joey has a fascination about Native American culture and history and it’s definitely something unusual as he is from Sweden. For him to write that song and make it so personal – I can’t but be in love and respect with this amazing human being.

My other personal favorite is “Heart of Stone” and that’s because of the vocals. Lyrically, it’s not as impressive as some other songs on the album, but Joey is just killing it on this one; The moment I hear the opening, “I’ve told you once and I’ve told you twice,” I just switch to a “don’t talk to me, I’m in the zone” mode and nothing or no one else matters.

“Danger on the Track”, “Ninja”, “Love Chaser”…do I have to go on? It’s just one shot of adrenaline after another;

It’s sad to think that one day, when younger (and weirder) generations are roaming the Earth this album might lose its relevance BUT I hope I’m still around to keep these oldies alive and introduce them to the newbies. If you are educating the youngsters on ’80s rock music, start here…

Now, I’m gonna go play it as loud as possible…

europe
My “The Final Countdown” Vinyl and CD  ~ I wish the artwork was as good as the album…

References:
I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

 

 

Concert Review: EUROPE Rocked The Night in Sofia, Bulgaria (16/05/2017)

I don’t even know how to begin writing this…I am just feeling so overly-emotional and hyped and I think I will be feeling like this for the next few days till I completely calm down. The amount of 100% pure rock energy I soaked in was the exact thing I needed in my life right now. The feelings, the emotions, the indescribable happiness I felt when one of my most beloved bands of all time – Europe stood in front of me and performed songs to which I cried and laughed – that’s something I will never forget!

You know that I am the ultimate ‘80s rock music enthusiast and on top of it all I am European! Europe and I were simply a match made in heaven! I’ve always identified with their sound, image and style and I guess part of the reason why was because I could sense that cultural and subsequently musical proximity. Many successful rock acts came out of European countries but those Swedish rockers justifiably made the biggest fuss in my little rock life!

After being a fan for so many years and listening to their songs on a daily basis it was about time I saw them live! Nothing or noone was gonna prevent me from attending that concert, despite uncertainties whether I was going to be in Bulgaria. Legendary albums such as “Prisoners in Paradise”, “Wings of Tomorrow”, “The Final Countdown” and “Out of This World” were essential in laying the foundations of enormous passion for rock&roll music so I just had to be a part of that magical show at any cost.

Europe released their phenomenal multi-platinum album, “The Final Countdown” in 1986. To celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary, in late 2016 Europe went on a tour. This January, it was announced that they are adding more countries to their special anniversary show and one of them was Bulgaria! How cool is that…

I was part of it all and would love to share my experience with you. Hope you enjoy reading about it!


The promo poster for Europe’s concert in Bulgaria:

europe promo bulgaria

This is how the concert venue looks from the outside (Arena Armeec). The weather was a bit rainy and gloomy but that didn’t matter!

concert 6

Before the concert, I bought a headband and took a couple of selfies with it. I absolutely adore these headbands and have a little collection  of them from concerts I attended. You can see how happy and thrilled I was by the look on my face! The fact that I was at work all day and was very tired wasn’t gonna prevent me from being in my best shape for one of my favorite bands of all time.

To get to my seat, I had to use the elevator which was the perfect moment to snap a little mirror selfie of my concert outfit. I was wearing shorts and a BOSTON T-Shirt as you can see.

europe concert 3

This is how it looked from the inside. I swear this arena is like my second home these days…haha. I got a nice, more expensive seat this time because it was EUROPE, after all – one of my most favorite bands of all time. The view was simply stunning! The crowd was smaller than the Deep Purple one from two days ago mostly because not all seating parts of the arena were available for the concert. Honestly, I am glad that the arena wasn’t that full l because usually that means more fan engagement and a better show, actually. The band can interact more easily with the fans and the whole atmosphere feels less “heavy” (at least that’s how I think).

europe concert venue inside

The opening act was Sevi – a Bulgarian hard rock/goth band, led by a female vocalist. I’ve never heard of them before but I think they have a strong Bulgarian fanbase and people were obviously really happy to see them. It turns out that they actually opened for Europe a couple of years ago during Kavarna Rock Fest (a famous Bulgarian rock festival) when the Swedish rockers last came to Bulgaria. I really enjoyed their enthusiasm and it was pretty good to witness some solid female rockstar power. They seemed quite confident, started their gig on time and looked like they really enjoyed themselves. I was too excited for Europe and probably didn’t give them the attention they deserved but I will definitely check them out! 

europe concert opening act

Europe are coming out any second now…

Europe concert logo

aaaand…there they are… the band that changed my life with their music; the band that gifted me with songs I cannot imagine my days without; the Scandinavian guys who I’ve always identified with. EUROPE

They kicked things off with the title track from their 2015 album, “War of Kings”. No words can describe the way I felt the moment Joey Tempest came on the stage… I thought I was flying; my heart and soul were free and nothing or no one else was there – it was just me, my favorite music and my favorite band playing for me. Since it was my first time seeing Europe you can only imagine how life-changing this experience was for me. I had a seat in the nearest to the stage sitting area but I couldn’t just sit down and clap so statically. I got up and went to the little terrace near my seats and for the rest of the concert I, along with other fans, stood up and danced, clapped, waved and screamed all night long!

Joey was fantastic! The kind of rockstar you don’t really see anymore these days. He was funny, confident, acrobatic, artistic and so passionate! What a sight he was! He said a couple of words in Bulgarian language, including “hello” and “we love you” which made everyone go crazy – this is the kind of gesture that speaks volumes and I always respected bands who try to say at least “hello” using the language of the country they are performing in. The second song was “Hole in My Pocket”, again from “War of Kings”. Their timeless rock anthem, “Rock the Night” was next and I just lost my mind!! Every inch of my body was electrified by Joey’s vocals and John’s thunderous guitars. “Rock the Night” has always been one of the most empowering songs I’ve ever heard and seeing how those rock Gods perform it live is something no one can ever take away from me.

A lot of hits (from his newer and classic albums) followed but the highlight was definitely their performance of “Carrie”. You know how much I adore power ballads and this one is definitely one of the most touching and heartbreaking ballads of all time. I was live-streaming on Twitter actually but I got so emotional during that ballad that I stopped the broadcasting and just decided to sing along with Joey, enjoy the song and embrace the upcoming little tears in my eyes. I will be forever grateful for that once-in-a-lifetime experience…

After the power ballad, Joey and the rest of the guys went full on straightforward hard rock with songs like “Firebox” and “Sign of the Times”…& then the best thing happened. I haven’t mentioned it yet but my favorite Europe album is “Prisoners in Paradise” (1991); maybe because I was born one year after its release or because of other personal reasons and songs that bring so many memories, but ultimately, this is one of the albums I will pick if I’m send on a deserted island with only 20 records. “Girl from Lebanon” is one of the strongest tracks from that album and one of my favorite Europe songs in general. The moment I hear those enchanting first riffs by Norum, I was about to faint, literally!!!! They didn’t play my favorite song, “I’ll Cry for You” but “Girl from Lebanon” was just as good.

We got the chance to listen to “Ready or Not”, “Nothin’ to Ya” and of course “Cherokee”, “Days of Rock & Roll” and the ultimate fan-favorite – “Superstitious”. There was also a little moment when he went “I don’t know where I’m going…but I sure know where I’ve been…” and I was like “wait wait…is this the right concert?” haha – but it was a wonderful, quite entertaining touch!

No one actually believe that the concert will end without the song that defined their career and became one of the biggest rock hits of the ’80s. After all, we are celebrating the anniversary of that worldly-beloved album. When I heard those keyboards at the beginning of “The Final Countdown” I was both ecstatic because this tune is 100% pure energy…but at the same time sorrowful because this meant that the night was over and I had to say goodbye to those outstanding musicians that mean so much to me…and who knows when will I see them again.

Soon enough the song, along with the concert itself was over but my heart was still left there, thrown on their stage… I can just shoot some fancy words to describe Europe’s showmanship and greatness but it wouldn’t mean anything… After their concert coming back to reality and working on the next day seemed unreasonable and even painful to do. The guys just transferred me to another dimension… Joey was jumping, laughing, singing his soul out, waving at everyone (including me) and he even gave the guitar to the bodyguard to try and play a little riff (which was so funny). John Norum’s presence on that stage was quite memorable too, mostly because of his mysterious, enchanting and alluring aura. He looked like a handsome magician who can compel you to do anything he wants with his guitar playing.

I would like to finish by saying that this was one of the greatest concerts I’ve ever attended and it meant the world to me to be part of Europe’s “The Final Countdown 30th Anniversary Tour”. I am sure that the day will come when I will see you again, my dear Europe!

(Here are some photos from the concerts. Apologies for the bad quality but most of the time I was enjoying the band and wasn’t really taking that many photos or videos.)

concert collage europe

europe collage 2

The happy audience:

audience europe concert


Setlist:

War of Kings
Hole in My Pocket
Rock the Night
Scream of Anger
Last Look at Eden
Carrie
The Second Day
Firebox
Sign of the Times
Girl From Lebanon
Ready or Not
Nothin’ to Ya
Superstitious
(the first couplet of… “Here I Go Again” /Whitesnake/ )
Cherokee
Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Encore:

The Final Countdown

 


P.S. All the photos are taken by me. Please be kind and considerate and make sure you don’t just save and use them without my permission! Rock on!

[MIXTAPE] EUROPE In 10 Outstanding Rockers

europe-band-collageAs a proud European, it’s only natural for me to be a huge fan of Europe; as a matter of fact they are among my most beloved hard rock acts of all time. I feel pretty excited to be writing this because the connection I share with those guys is too strong and I do have to say a thing or two about their fantastic career, spawning some of my favorite songs of all time.

Originally named Force, the Swedish band of vocalist Joey Tempest, guitarist John Norum, bass guitarist Peter Olsson, and drummer Tony Reno is a solid example of how dreams do come true as long as you are not afraid to try and give it your all. From innocent beginnings to becoming an international sensation in the mid-1980s, Europe definitely proved that you don’t have to be British or American to know how to produce quality rock n’ roll and  conquer the world with it. After a moderately successful self-titled debut album (1983) and a strong evolution with “Wings of Tomorrow (1984), Europe caught the attention of the right people who knew exactly what to make out of those outstanding musicians. In May 1986, the world welcomed “The Final Countdown” – a record and a title track known by each and every person on this planet, I believe. Kevin Elson, a mastermind producer, who worked with Journey stepped in and shaped what is known as one of the most era-defining records of all time. Europe kept on delivering impressive rock in the following “Out of This World” (1988) and “Prisoners in Paradise” (1991). Unfortunately, just like many other hard rock bands on the market, Europe also stumbled and fell over the sudden grunge outburst in the early 1990s. Despite releasing a phenomenal record in that magical 1991, they received little appreciation, making it one of the most underrated albums in my book. After a little break, they got their act together and released some decent albums, including the most recent one “War of Kings” (2015). What comes next for Europe? A worldwide tour, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of that groundbreaking record that redefined the 80s! They surely still got it!

In honor of “The Final Countdown” and because I am a huge fan of Europe, I prepared this little playlist of 10 songs, which I believe best represent the band and their exciting sound. The playlist is suitable for people who are meeting the band for the first time, as well as to those who want to experience good music all over again! I am not discriminating against their newer releases (they are very good, actually) but for me personally, the first five albums are the greatest pieces of work they have done so far and whatever I do, I always go back to those classic rock jewels.

Cheers to Europe!


All or Nothing

The opening track of “Prisoners in Paradise” (1991) has to be my most beloved Europe tune of all time. Captivating guitar intro that progresses in catchy hard rock rhythms, accompanied by Joey’s mesmerizing vocals – this song is everything. If you are the type of person who likes solid hard rock, characterized by hooky melodies to sing over to, this is the tune for you. The lyrics are not as impressive as the melodies, but still pleasing and easy to sing:  All or nothing at all, There’s nothing I won’t do, And the one thing I want, All of is you…”


I’ll Cry for You

“I’ll Cry for You” became the reason why I fell inlove with “Prisoners in Paradise”. The instant attention-grabbing keyboard intro is transforming into a guitar-paradise and bittersweet lyrics that really get under your skin “…I wanna give you my heart, Give you my soul; I wanna lay in your arms, Never let go…”


Girl from Lebanon

Very unique and intriguing concept right here. “Girl from Lebanon” yet again came out from “Prisoners in Paradise” and in my opinion is one of their greatest works. Those thunder riffs are unforgettable, John Norum is simply killing it on this one…


Wings of Tomorrow

The title track of their sophomore album, “Wings of Tomorrow” (1984), clearly showcased a progress towards the right direction. Raw, straightforward, hitting you hard with no preparation whatsoever, this is definitely my favorite tune from the album. Of course, it’s a bit far from that polished sound we get to experience on the junior record, but equally interesting and worthy of appreciation.


“Out of This World” (1988) spawned four internationally successful singles, among which “Superstitious” and “More Than Meets the Eye” stood out the most to me and to the majority of Europe fans, actually. Following the well-established “The Final Countdown” formula for success, Europe defended the title of the kings of European melodic rock with that album. Both songs impress with catchy riffs and simple, yet charming lyrics.

Superstitious

More Than Meets the Eye


Seven Doors Hotel

“Seven Doors Hotel” was Europe’s first single, released from their debut album back in 1983. This song signalled the arrival of a great songwriting force. That’s right, I am talking about Joey Tempest who at such young age, with no experience whatsoever demonstrated such talent. “Seven Doors Hotel” was actually one of the first songs he had ever written. It became an enormously successful hit single in Japan. Interestingly, Europe are actually one of the few Western bands that became a strong force on the Japanese market back in the day. Even nowadays, Japanese fans love them to death!


coverI will wrap up my playlist with three hit singles from “The Final Countdown” (1986) – the spirited party-anthem, “Rock the Night”; the gentle power ballad, “Carrie”; and of course the monstrous hard rocker, “The Final Countdown”. Each of these tunes have its own uniqueness and became an absolute staple of ‘80s rock scene. You don’t have a party without “Rock the Night”, you don’t create a power-ballad playlist without “Carrie” and you don’t associate with people who don’t like “The Final Countdown” – simple as that!

Rock the Night

Carrie

The Final Countdown


+Bonus Track

Little Bit of Lovin’

There is just something very special about “Prisoners in Paradise” and I want you guys to really feel it. I may have included a lot of tunes from that album, but I stand by what I said – it’s their most deserving work.


 

P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~