The last time I went to a gig at the Corn Exchange was nigh on seven years ago. Not much has changed at the venue refreshingly, apart from more people recording bits of the gig on various devices. I include myself in this of course.
The gig itself was a double headliner between the two bands. Black Star Riders went on first, a band that used to tour as Thin Lizzy (with erstwhile Almighty front man Ricky Warwick stepping into Phil Lynott's boots) but changed their moniker to the gang lead by Kurt Russell in Tombstone. A wise choice methinks. No band has ever survived the death of their lead singer of course.
So the Riders' set was a deft mixture of original material and Lizzy barnstormers like 'Rosalie' and of course 'The Boys Are Back In Town'. The assembled masses went for it like they were listening to the best pub rock band in Britain. Which in a way they were, albeit one that has received deserved recent airplay on that grand bastion of beige, BBC Radio 2.
Europe were a surprise to me in more ways that one, and all of them pleasant. First of all, I thought there were more of them and maybe that's testament to their fat rock sound that millions know so well even if they swear they don't.
Secondly, the new material off their new LP (of which I had only heard the title track prior to the gig) is delightfully grungy, the kind of album a band that was stadium-sized in the 80's made when Seattle broke big in the early 90's. Great, in other words.
And last but by no means least, the fact that Joey Tempest is one hell of a front man in the classic mode, interacting with the audience like he was playing their living room, creeping up on band members playing air guitar and engaging us in chat like we were propping up the bar like two old buddies.
It was a night of unashamed rock n roll abandon, a big 'fuck you' too the too cool for school set and although Europe didn't play 'Prisoners In Paradise' or 'Carrie', owing more to the shortened sets of both bands to conform to the double headliner rule, a great time was had by all.
And yes, I was humming the synth riff to 'The Final Countdown' all the way back to the hotel.