by Derric Miller
– Managing Editor —
Jan. 28, 2016 at Badlands Pawn in Sioux Falls, S.D. —
Gabba gabba hey, gabba hey, it’s Gabbie Rae! If you haven’t heard the human sparkplug who goes by the name Gabbie Rae, well, you should probably get on that. On Jan. 28 in Sioux Falls, S.D. at Badlands Pawn, Rae opened for the legendary Europe. The lady has pipes, she owns melody, and there’s a breadth and depth of power to her vocals that may make you think of a singer like Lzzy Hale.
She played a short acoustic set, which turned her most popular song “Scream” from a somewhat bubbly yet rockin’ composition into a more atmospheric delivery. As a newcomer, she sings with conviction and after belting out some of the more trying notes on “Scream,” after the song ended, she gave the crowd sort of an innocent “Oh you, stop it, aww shucks” grin. Instead of a “look what I can do!” bravado, her self-effacing realness makes you root for her even more. Be on the lookout for this artist.
Badlands Pawn (www.badlandspawn.com) opened on Thanksgiving of 2015, and to call it an anomaly is to sell it short. The structure houses a foundry, a tattoo parlor, is obviously a pawn shop, has its own radio station (KBAD 94.5), is a gun range, has a deli … and oh yeah, is bringing bands and artists like Megadeth, Rival Sons, Kix, KISS, April Wine, Joan Jett, Rick Springfield, The Offspring etc. to its million dollar concert stage. Because the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, it even has its own house band, led by the all-around good guy, extremely talented and platinum lead singer Ron Keel. Sioux Falls hasn’t had a go-to rock joint since the musically historical Pomp Room closed in 1998. About damn time … and thanks Badlands.
Europe, like Def Leppard, was one of those bands that started more as a somewhat leaning NWOBHM act. When you listen to their classic release Wings of Tomorrow, and dissect songs like “Stormwind,” “Scream of Anger” or the title track, you probably didn’t think it’d lead to an album like The Final Countdown. But it did, making them an “instant” worldwide success.
Unlike the majority of ‘80s acts that broke up and got back together, Europe is constantly creating new music. They’ve released five new studio albums since they permanently got back together in 2004, and their newest release, War of Kings, is heavy and shows a maturation in both content and musicianship in comparison to their early hits.
Another unique aspect to the band is that all of the musicians who recorded The Final Countdown are still together today. And then there’s John Norum, underrated, not as heralded as he should be and an absolute maestro on the guitar. Seeing him live for the first time is akin to seeing Warren DeMartini live for the first time. You knew he was good … but you didn’t really know. Norum slayed. Seeing someone at that level, and THAT close, was worth every penny everyone spent and then some.
The dudes in Europe don’t really look their age—none of them. They play with the spirit and fire they did in the ‘80s, and lead singer Joe Tempest (Can we stop calling him Joey? He’s a grown ass man …) still has his vocal chops in place. If anything, there’s a slightly huskier tone to his delivery, which makes it warmer and more human.
While most bands of that era rely heavily on their mainstays, Europe isn’t afraid to flaunt their new wares. Yes, they played “Carrie,” “Superstitious,” “Rock the Night,” “Cherokee,” “Sign of the Times,” “Ready or Not” and of course, “The Final Countdown” (which is also featured in Geico’s newest commercial, the best commercial in years.) But they also played several songs off of their newest release and opened with “War of Kings.” It all sounded spectacular, while the most poignant part of the evening was the band paying homage to the recently departed Glenn Frey with their cover of “Desperado.”
The band is a unit of consummate professionals at the top of their game. Even if you went to the venue thinking they’d be “good,” they blew you away. (Much like the recent show by Rick Springfield at Badlands, which was about 10 times better than anyone probably expected. Maybe the Badlands brings out the “bad ass” in every band.)
If you have the opportunity to see Europe live, you are a fan of hard rock and metal, and you don’t go, then you are an admitted masochist. But that’s OK, no one’s judging … this is a safe space.
1. War of Kings
2. Hole in My Pocket
3. Rock The Night
5. Last Look at Eden
7. The Second Day
9. Sign of the Times
11. Girl From Lebanon
12. Ready or Not
13. Nothin’ to Ya
17. Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll
18. The Final Countdown
LIVE! | Europe wih Gabbie Rae Concert Photo Gallery
All photos by Eric Dalseide.
Visit the band online: www.europetheband.com