30 years ago, just as Europe’s The Final Countdown went stratospheric, John Norum left the band and it was Kee Marcello who went on to be the guitarist during their commercial heyday. However, while his erstwhile bandmates milk that milestone this autumn, it is his solo career that now takes priority particularly with the release of a new solo album ‘Scaling Up’.
The London date was in an unusual choice of venue deep in the South-West suburbs just a mile from where I spent my early years. It led me to wonder whether his management had fallen for a practical joke and confused the Cavern pub with the iconic Liverpool venue. In fact it was a friendly, old school rock pub in which older, biker-type regulars weaned on a diet of blues and covers bands every night seemed to outnumber bona fide Kee Marcello or Europe fans.
A leather-jacketed Kee and his four piece band opened with ‘Black Hole Star’, sounding somewhat like Europe’s ‘Seventh Sign’ which itself was played later, then a bona fide Europe classic in ‘Halfway To Heaven though his co guitarist Harry Scott Elliott did some of the solos, before his own material such as ‘Dead End Highway’, a somewhat grungy sounding ‘E.N.D.’, ‘Starless Sky’ and ‘Dog Eat Dog’.
One of the pleasures of seeing him was a generous inclusion of Europe songs including many the band, certainly in their current incarnation, rarely play such as ‘Tower’s Calling’ and ‘More Than Meets the Eye’. However, Kee is at best a workmanlike singer and despite some big backing vocals, notably from rat-tailed bassist Ken Sandin, the delivery suffered in comparison to the admittedly high melodic bar set by Joey Tempest.
His own songs were better suited to his sleazier, lived-in vocals and impressed more as the set went on with ‘Get On Top’ having a touch of Priest or even Metallica riffery. ‘We Go Rocking’ was a different beast with a sleazy Crue/Poison feel, hardly surprising when I later discovered it dated back to his pre-Europe glam act Easy Action.
‘Rock The Night’ was enthusiastically received by fan and casual punter alike, though it led into a rather over-long drum solo. For a supposed album launch event, his promotion of the ‘Scaling Up’ album was surprisingly low key, but the Purple-esque ‘Soldier Down’ and the title track were played late on and sounded promising.
‘Superstitious’ is the song I always think of as Kee’s trademark and sure enough he launched into that great winding solo where so many notes seem to be crammed in without losing melody, though again the song was dragged out somewhat into a medley with the Police’s ‘So Lonely’.
Coming back, everyone knew what the encore would be, but I was delighted he slipped in another classic from his Europe tenure in ‘Girl From Lebanon’ before the inevitable ‘Final Countdown’ where even the most blatantly taped keyboards could not spoil a party atmosphere.
Giving excellent value for money with a 100 minutes set then willingly staying to sign and meet fans, full credit should go to Kee and his band for putting such energy into their show at a small venue. I would wager that Raynes Park has never seen anything like it in its rock n roll history.
Review and Photos by Andy Nathan
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