With Europe and FM.
Nottingham’s Royal Centre 7th April 2014.
Tonight was a night of firsts for me. First time shooting at Nottingham’s amazing Royal Centre, which is a fantastic state of the art venue and first time seeing all three of these amazing classic bands live. Although I am very familiar with both Europe and Foreigner, FM were a completely new AOR act for me and a pretty impressive one at that!
FM are a British rock band who formed back in 1984 and performed their first concert on Valentines Day in 1985 and since that day, they haven’t looked back! They have ten studio albums to their name which have produced multiple chart successes over the years in both the UK and the US. The band have also toured with many of the greats over the years including Tina Turner, Gary Moore, Statues Quo, Bon Jovi and of course, Foreigner, so clearly they are no strangers to the industry. As with many bands, nothing stays the same forever and they have seen line ups changes, relationships broken then fixed along with new recruits and new alliances formed, but the one thing that has always remained true, has been their music.
FM’s current line up consists of Jem Davies on keyboards, Pete Jupp on drums, Steve Overland, vocals and guitar, Jim Kirkpatrick also guitar and Merv Goldsworth on bass and as the guys came onto the stage they were all smiles, especially Steve and Merv. With this great venue filling up nicely and their eight song set being rolled out impeccably, their focus on the music amongst the company of fans, saw FM give a performance that confirmed exactly why these guys were here!
You could clearly see that the band were enjoying themselves, with the smiles on stage being infectious amongst the crowd who were quick to sing all the words back to them, especially the few dancing in the isles. Many of the FM’s classic tracks were featured tonight, but with time limitations they were a few suprise omissions in their set list. The positive side of that was the added inclusion of some of their lesser known and lesser played live tracks, which kept their audience more than happy.
Full track list consisted of: 1. Tough Love 2. I Belong to the Night 3. Don’t Stop 4. Closer To Heaven 5. That Girl 6. Crosstown 7. Train 8. Burning My Heart Down.
With FM having warmed the crowd up in preparation for what was still to come, the time was fast approaching for super Swed’s Europe, to make their mark. This band needs no introduction, love them or loath them, their monster rock anthem “The Final Countdown” struck a chord with millions upon millions of people all over the world, myself included and continues to do so with every generation that comes along! This track is still regarded as their biggest hit to date as when it was originally released in 1986, it managed to score the No. 1 slot in over twenty five countries world wide but Europe have kept moving forward with their latest album ‘Bag of Bones’, which was released in 2012, getting them great reviews and support slots like tonight’s show.
Europe’s classic rock sound has appealed to a mass audience for years, and with each new album released, they’ve managed to put a new perspective on their music whilst maintaining their identity. Tonight’s set was as varied as their musical career and featured many of the great tracks they have produced over the years. One of the biggest crowd reactions was for the track ‘Carrie’, and although a seated venue, there was no stopping people getting up from their seats to embrace the music and with the crowd played a big part in tonight’s performance, you could see the band appreciated and fed off these reactions. Without doubt, this band have a super hardcore following and you could plenty of them in the Royal Center tonight, all singing their hearts out to every track played.
Having toured the UK extensively, Europe are no strangers to Nottingham but I believe tonight was their first time visit to this amazing venue and as Mr Tempest stated, the Royal Centre is truly state of the art. The acoustics this building achieves is out of this world and you could see the band were enjoying playing here. Tonight’s line up featured Mic Michaeli on Keys, John Levén on Bass, John Norum on Guitars, Ian Haugland on Drums and Joey Tempest on Vocals and one thing for sure each and everyone of them gave it their all. Tempest even cracked a few jokes and asked the crowd if he could still get a pint of Shippo’s – which got a hearty reaction from the crowd.
Tonight’s set list tonight included the following classics; 1. Riches to Rags 2. Firebox 3. Superstitious [Included a snippet of ‘Here I Go Again’] 4. Scream of Anger 5. No Stone Unturned 6. Carrie 7. Sign of the Times 8. Cherokee 9. Rock the Night and 10. Last Look at Eden and of course, they finished with “The Final Countdown”. This track will always remain special to me, as it was the first track I ever fell in love with as a child, at the tender age of six! It was an absolute delight to see Europe perform this track live, and another great first for me! These guys are an absolute must see band for any hard rock fan out there, as tonight’s show was such a great live performance from start to finish!
Like Europe before them, Foreigner are special, if not more so. Formed in 1976 and spanning their thirty year illustrious career, they have produced so many of the great tracks of our time that have resulted in ten multi-platinum albums and sixteen Top 30 hits.
Tonight’s line up consisted of, Kelly Hansen – Lead Vocals, Jeff Pilson on Bass, Tom Gimbel on Flute, Rhythm Guitar and Saxophone, Michael Bluestein on Keys, Chris Frazier on Drums and I believe, Bruce Watson – as stand in on Lead Guitarist. Sadly founding member and guitarist Mic Jones wasn’t in attendance tonight due to ill health, but I’m pleased to read that he was back on his feet and fighting fit again in time to accept his induction into Portsmouth’s Wall of Fame, the first inductee in fact, which was in his home town.
Opening up tonight’s set with their amazing track ‘Double vision’, very much met with audience approval and the hits just kept on coming after that! Kelly Hansen is an impressive vocalist and a real jack in the box on and off stage, making him an addictive to watch frontman and quite a character. With the impromptu collapse of Michael’s keyboard stand and whilst the crew were busy sorting that ou, Kelly was quick to grab the moment as an opportunity to tell the crowd “This is a rock and roll concert, there are no restrictions, if you want to get up and party, do so. If you have a spare pair of underwear, throw them, but above all, enjoy yourselves”. Seeing everyone get up on their feet, Kelly decided to run out into the crowd, stopping at row J, our row in fact and ran along the isle seats, giving high fives to those he could reach.With the set ready to continue, he was quickly back up on stage and straight into Foreigners timeless anthem ‘Waiting for a Girl Like This’.
With so many classic songs to choose from, the remaining set list truly captured the spirit of Foreigner and delivered many great performances of their tracks that included ‘Feels Like The First Time’, ‘Juke Box Hero’ and ‘Urgent’ to mention only a few. Their encore was something very special though as their three final tracks left everyone speechless, especially “I Want to Know What Love Is” which ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
Being such a great live act, with timeless music and great musicianship, it’s easy to see why this band continues to sell out tours around the world. Long may they continue to do so, as tonight was truly spectacular
Full set list consisted of: 1. Double Vision 2. Head Games 3. Cold as Ice 4. Waiting for a Girl Like You 5. That Was Yesterday 6. Dirty White Boy 7. Say You Will [Acoustic] 8. Feels Like the First Time 9. Urgent 10. Keyboard solo / Drum solo 11. Juke Box Hero. Encore was: 1. Long, Long Way from Home 2. I Want to Know What Love Is 3. Hot Blooded.
Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)