Gig review: EUROPE, BLACK STAR RIDERS – Manchester Academy, 13 March 2015

EUROPE - Manchester Academy, 13 March 2015

I am still not convinced that two- or three-way bills are the best way forward for some of our premier bands.  The last time I saw Europe was a three-way with FM and Foreigner and notwithstanding poor sound (for the Brits and the Swedes) it left the feeling of short-change.

Tonight’s double-header with Black Star Riders again emphasised the frustration of seeing a favourite band squeezed into barely an hour.  It didn’t help that Europe’s showtime was scheduled fifteen minutes before they actually appeared and with a 23:00 curfew things were always going to be tight.  But looking at previous setlists from this tour it does seem that nothing was actually left out of their set, which is all the more worrying.

EUROPE - Manchester Academy, 13 March 2015

As Joey Tempest himself confirmed to me in our interview last year,  a shorter show doesn’t allow a band to develop much dynamic and tonight’s set was very much high-energy all the way. It was inevitably a showcase for the new album and the band picked out some of the stronger tunes which were all the better for the live treatment.

‘War Of Kings’ is a song of anthemic and down-tuned proportions that Europe do so well, closely followed by ‘Hole In My Pocket’. ‘The Second Day’ introduces an irresistible darker vibe whilst the bluesy ‘Praise You’ also impressed.  For the rest, ‘Riches To Rags’ and ‘Firebox’ sat well with old stalwarts ‘Scream Of Anger’ and ‘Rock The Night’.

EUROPE - Manchester Academy, 13 March 2015

And, yes, the keys were mixed for live sound much better than on album whilst John Norum always injects sheer class into the solos even if there are not enough of them and – naturally – no guitar set-piece with the clock ticking.

Of course, “that” song arrived all too soon and it all seemed a bit rushed at the end without the band taking the traditional bow (although I noted this omission last time) and no encore.  Europe need to sort this.  It wasn’t a very slick ending to an impressive if frustratingly short performance.

Black Star Riders - Manchester Academy, 13 March 2015

Black Star Riders had warmed things up beforehand with a 1 hour 20 minute set and were again promoting a new album.  In truth the new songs have not fully bedded in.  ‘Charlie I Gotta Go’ came over well but ‘Through The Motions’ should have really rocked but didn’t quite hit the spot.  Similarly, the core Lizzy catalogue was a mixed bag with ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ sounding a little scrappy.

If the Riders haven’t quite shaken off the Lizzy legacy (some might say “why should they?”) they haven’t quite bedded in their original material either; maybe it will take a third album, but to my ears there is too much dependence still on the ghost of Phil Lynott.  Songs like ‘Jailbreak’  and ‘Are You Ready’  overshadowed the band’s own offerings and it still gives the air of a very good tribute.  Hopefully the band will find their true spurs in the future.

The Amorettes - Manchester Academy, 13 March 2015

Tonight’s openers The Amorettes are currently highly touted and I can see them doing well at festivals and biker gatherings.  They remind those of a certain age of The Runaways and, closer to home, Girlschool.  Not entirely original, then, but at least they are young,  female and thrusty.

EUROPE:   War Of Kings/ Hole In My Pocket/ Last Look At Eden/ Girl From Lebanon/ Superstitious/ The Second Day/ Scream Of Anger/ Praise You/ Sign Of The Times/ Riches To Rags/ Firebox/ Rock The Night/Days Of Rock ‘n’ Roll/The Final Countdown

BLACK STAR RIDERS: Bound For Glory /Jailbreak /Kingdom Of The Lost/ Charlie I Gotta Go/ Hoodoo Voodoo / Soldierstown / Are You Ready / Bloodshot /The Boys Are Back In Town / Through the Motions / All Hell Breaks Loose/ Emerald / Finest Hour/ Rosalie/ The Killer Instinct / Whiskey In The Jar

Review and photos by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

Gig review (Glasgow, 5 March 2015)
Album review (Europe)
Album review (Black Star Riders)

Gig review (Black Star Riders, August 2014)


The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 24 January, 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

More about Josh:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 December 2020 and announces the results of the Popular Poll for Best of 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 20 December 2020 and includes Pete’s best of the year selections

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 11 January 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Our Glass House (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SERGEANT STEEL Truck Tales (Boyz Tyme Records)
14:00-16:00 DAN REED Liftoff (Zero Entertainment)

Power Plays w/c 11 January 2021 (Mon-Fri)

BLACK SPIDERS – Good Times (Dark Riders Records/Cargo Records)
GRAVITY MACHINE Standing Stones (Zyse Records)
EMPIIRES Love Or Hate (TLG Entertainment/INgrooves)
RAY FENWICK Tam Tam (Singsong Music)
DEAD REYNOLDS Voices (The Fort)
LAYLA ZOE Don’t Wanna Help Anyone (indie)

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