Concert review - Europe, Birmingham O2 Academy

Swedish rockers Europe kicked off their UK tour in Birmingham, for all the world looking and sounding like they'd been to rock star boot camp.

Since they reformed nine years ago, the 80s stars have forged a new future by leaning on the past, finding new inspiration from the 70s heroes they listened to in their teens, the likes of Deep Purple, UFO and Led Zeppelin.

Such is the band's confidence in their new, more muscular, blues rock sound that they kicked off last night's show with the opening three tracks of their latest album, Bag of Bones.

Having found great acclaim with 2009's Last Look at Eden, Bag of Bones finds them rocking even harder, with stand out tracks last night including Firebox, the raucous Demon Head and the pumped up Doghouse.

Singer Joey Tempest, as ever, was the master of ceremonies, with John Norum impressing with his guitar heroics.

A mid-set acoustic section saw the band channeling their inner Led Zep to great effect with a hypnotic Drink And a Smile. During Rock The Night they even found time to play tribute to Brummie heavy metal godfathers Black Sabbath with a powerhouse run through Paranoid.

Of course, everything was heading towards one song, so by way of 80s hits like Carrie and Superstitious we finally arrived at the final encore and inevitably The Final Countdown, sending their fans away happily into the chilly night.

Review and photos by Ian Harvey

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