Caught in the act

By: Rick Evans            From: Hit Parader - 1987

Two attractive young women stood outside the stage entrance that led to EUROPE's dressing room. Each of the girls was dressed in white T-shirts with the outline of a shag haircut imprinted on their impressively statuesque chests. At first glance that hair might have belonged to Jon Bon Jovi, or maybe David Coverdale, but since this was a concert by Sweden's premier hard rock band, there could be no doubt that the follicle tribute was dedicated to none other than EUROPE's main-man, Joey Tempest.

"He's soooo cute," one of the girls squealed as she patiently waited to be escorted backstage so she could have a brief audience with her hero.

"Yeah, but he's also so darn sexy," her friend added. "And he's got a great voice," they stated in unison, even though in their minds Tempest's vocal prowess seemed quite secondary to his physical attributes.

On the other side of the door that separated the band from their fans, the members of EUROPE were getting ready for the final concert on their first U.S. tour. The mood was loose and jovial with Swedish banter intermingling with English as the band joked about experiences they had on the American tour trail as well as about the expectations of returning home. In one corner, Tempest sat talking with drummer Ian Haugland about some small changes he wanted in that night's set.

"This might be our last concert in America for the moment, but that doesn't mean we're still not trying to make this the best show possible," Tempest stated. "We're always changing little things around just to see if they work better than what we're doing at the moment. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't - but that's rock and roll."

EUROPE's premier American road junket had proven to be a massive success. In fact, some members of the rock community - including some at the band's record label - wondered if this tour would ever even get off the ground. It has taken EUROPE nearly six months following the release of their platinum smash, "The Final Countdown", to complete their prior touring commitments and sojourn to U.S. shores. Tempest, for one, had few regrets about the band's touring decisions.

"When the album first came out, we didn't know where our strong markets would be," the blond belter explained. "Our previous LP had not made a great impact in America, so we didn't see a reason to immediately go over to the States as soon as it came out. Our attitude was that we should play our strongest markets first, then if the demand was there for us to come to America, we would do so."

The demand for EUROPE's presence was certainly high on this side of the Atlantic - a fact underlined by the sold-out status of every stop on the group's month-long U.S. tour. While the band chose to play smaller arenas and theaters on this debut voyage, they showed the panache and style of a band destined to be selling out the biggest halls in the land in the near future.

Rallying around the hard rocking guitar riffs of Kee Marcello and the classically-inspired organ runs of Mic Michaeli, EUROPE's two-hour stage show rocked with a power and precision that belied the group's relatively short touring history. All the hits were there, "Carrie", "Rock the Night" and, of course, "The Final Countdown", each delivered with a minimum of theatrical effects and a maximum rock impact. Needless to say, the crowd ate it up, cheering every not as well as every shake of Tempest's shaggy mane of hair.

"American fans haven't really surprised us," Tempest said at evening's end. "We had always been told about what great rock fans they are, and they've lived up to all their prior billing. They're much more responsive than European fans. We can't wait to come back and do an even longer tour. We know the fans will be ready for us, and we'll be ready for them."

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