|The European attack|
Metal Hammer - 1987
The guy from the radio station who was
interviewing fans with his reporter's cassette recorder and big
microphone in front of the Grugahalle in Essen, West Germany, had every
reason to feel satisfied. The fans were prepared to answer all his
questions, such as "Why have you come here?", "What
magazine do you read?" or do you like EUROPE?"
Then the teenies started singing all together "The Final Countdown"... and that was the end of that part of the day.
Already very early on this mid February afternoon, lots of young, very young and slightly older EUROPE fans had gathered in front of the barriers that surrounded the Grugahalle. Although it was cold and rainy, the fans were in great spirits and were waiting for the time when the heavily-built bouncers would open the doors for the public.
Towards the evening the crowd had grown enormously and had slightly changed in composition. Although the kinds were still in the majority, the number of older fans had noticeably grown, among them mothers and fathers with their small children or complete families with up to three generations present. EUROPE seem to be the band for everybody in Germany, and probably everywhere else. You did have to search for real metal fans, though. You got the same impression in the bursting Grugahalle. You could feel the tension growing by the minute.
When the lights were eventually switched off, there was a sigh of relief from the crowd and the fans pushed even closer towards the barriers in front of the stage. Then the intro of "The Final Countdown" was played from a tape, the stage lights went on and EUROPE started playing for a good 90 minutes. Young girls at the front of the stage went into euphoric ecstasies and dug cuddly animals, teddy bears, etc, out of their pockets, screamed and threw their personal gifts on the stage.
At the same time, it was getting rather hectic backstage. Ambulance men with stretchers, roadies and security ran to the barriers and returned with girls that had fainted, only to run to the barriers again a few minutes later in expectation of the next few victims of fainting. It was similar to the old reports about the Beatles concerts. Hysteria, fainting teenagers and sheer, unadulterated teenybop enthusiasm.
At the same time, things were really happening on stage. EUROPE did their best to play a gig once can describe as good without hesitation. Sure, the boys from the cold north didn't play an earth-shattering concert, but they did a good, reliable job. The sound was excellent and well up front, the lights mainly very good, and you couldn't overlook the joy the Scandinavians had in playing.
It was very evident that EUROPE aren't a heavy metal band, but they play a well-made hard rock with pop influences. This mixture is probably the reason why the band is so successful with younger and older people. Very successful, as the reactions in the Grugahalle showed very clearly. The kids wouldn't let the group off the stage so easily. They shouted for more - and were granted an encore. One of the songs was the hymn of this winter again, "The Final Countdown".
Shortly before that, this writer had moved to the beer stall on the ground floor and was able to watch a very peculiar phenomenon: Due to the stomping of several thousand feet in the hall above, the ceiling was swinging to a really frightening extent. Yours truly went back to the hall with his beer as fast as possible, haunted by visions of collapsing floors and looked for a stable looking place at the side of the hall. Thus he bore witness to the enthusiastic finale of the darlings of the EUROPE generation.
Fact: EUROPE are undoubtedly a good band. They have an extensive musical potential and were able to prove that in their concert which certainly couldn't be regarded as "unforgettable", but which was altogether very satisfactory. We will probably have to live with these particular Europeans for another few years, but there are surely worse alternatives.