Europe/Diamond Head - Bristol, O2 Academy - 24th February 2010 Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E & Johnny H   
Thursday, 04 March 2010 08:04

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If I were to close my eyes or turn away from the stage midway through Diamond Head's performance tonight then I could almost believe it was the same band playing that originally set me on the long and slippery path into the kingdom of NWOBHM back in the early Eighties.

 

There is certainly an almost identical spirit and energy to today's band that the teenage lads from the Midlands would pump into a live show back then. And it is testament to the band's legacy that the Academy is full so early on. Kicking off with 'It's Electric', the now five piece Diamond Head are obviously very well settled as a line up, and sound wise the vocaldiamondreview (renta)ghost of Sean Harris has possibly finally been exorcised with Nick Tart being a more than capable bluesy replacement, being raised in the Harris mould.

 

Older classics like 'Call Me', 'In The Heat Of The Night' and 'To The Devil His Due' were all rattled off with suitable efficiency and received enthusiastically by the baying masses, but it was on newer tracks like 'Mine All Mine' that the guys showed exactly why they are still well ahead of the (reformed) NWOBHM pack. Let's not forget here that along with sole original member Brain Tatler, some of the other guys in this current line up of Diamond Head have now spent nearly twenty years off and on in the band, and a considerable amount longer than some of the original line up ever did. So it is absolutely right that tracks like 'Alimony' are afforded as much stage time as say 'Am I Evil?'or 'Sucking My Love'.

 

Quite where Diamond Head will go after this tour is anyone's guess, but with the Bruce Dickinson meets Phil Mogg charm of the aforementioned Nick Tart taking the band onwards and upwards and equally importantly keeping them in the here and now image wise, I certainly look forward to whatever the future might bring the still natural successors to Led Zeppelin.

 

Some twenty seven years to the day, as told by Joey Tempest, Europe released their self-titled debut album. It seems then wholly appropriate that the packed venue (my fellow reviewer and I had a bet on the attendance, and I won) should witness a pretty comprehensive setlist culled from every page of the back catalogue of Sweden's premier melodic rock legends.

 

Opener, and title track of last year's seriously impressive album, 'Last Look At Eden' quickly rolls into 'Superstitious' from 'Out Of This World', an album that will be celebrated later in the set with typically rousing renditions of 'Sign Of The Times' and 'Let The Good Times Rock'. The middle section of 'Superstitious' quickly becomes a homage to musical heroes, briefly turning into a 'Since You've Been Gone' singalong. There will be a similar snatch of 'Another 1aeuropereviewOne Bites The Dust' towards the end of the band's set. Influences worn on their sleeves? In the crotch more like, as Tempest throws ever more David Coverdale like moves into his thrusting, mic stand spinning stage act.

 

Diehards in the crowd wet their stonewashed jeans as the band tear into 'Scream Of Anger' from second album 'Wings Of Tomorrow', while the ladies wet their knickers as an acoustic version of 'Carrie', along with 'New Love In Town', force memories of teenage love back into their minds. The first thing that springs to my mind is that this mid-set lull has come maybe a little too soon and lasts maybe a little too long, as does what can only be described as a cock rock 'comfort break' by Joey. Leaving the band to dazzle the audience with a lengthy instrumental section, a costume change would have at least have made it all a bit more worthwhile.....

 

'Seven Doors Hotel' from that debut album goes some way towards getting things back on track, but it is the one-two of 'Cherokee' and 'Rock The Night' from THAT album that really kicks the night up a notch or two. Iconic or ironic - you decide. All I know is that several hundred people have just been transported back in time and, rather than suffer some kinda motion sickness, are gonna party like it's 1986. And then they're gone. The band, dressed simply in black, have left the minimalist stage set - decked out with just some subtle logo screens - and it appears that the evening is over. Wait, someone asks for an encore. But what else could Europe possibly play?

 

First we get 'The Beast', the meaty mutha from the latest album, and then it happens. Witnessing several hundred people sing the most well-known keyboard riff in the history of music is quite something. Suddenly, it is New Year's Eve-alike and there's a (quiet) riot goin' on. The grins from the audience are so wide that Tempest finally has some competition in the teeth stakes.

 

With the rock show a quickly fading ringing in the ears, I look around and fail to see one single atom of disappointment amongst the departing throng. But, as the feet start to hit the frosty pavements outside the venue, I can't help but think that tonight Europe have simply been parping to the converted.