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EUROPE Live At Shepherd's Bush, London/Live Look At Eden (CD/DVD/Mini-Book) earMUSIC (2011)


The renaissance of Europe over the last decade has been one of rock's great comebacks and has paralleled the lifetime of GRTR! Reviews Editor Jason Ritchie and reviewer Nikk Gunns had long latched on to the promise shown by 2004's 'Start From The Dark'. So it came as no surprise that, by 2009, Europe were more widely feted by the mainstream rock press who had finally buried the cynicism that always dogged the band's early career.

The band's more recent success has been richly deserved and the handsome mini-book version of 'Live Look At Eden' attempts to analyse this process - albeit succinctly - in the band's own words accompanied by Dennis O'Regan's candid photographs.

The core live set is Shepherds Bush Empire, London at the start of the Balls and Banners Tour in February 2011, and available now as a CD/DVD. It has the feel of a club gig, a little more intimate than Europe's last tour video, Hammersmith Apollo in 2004. And it takes the bonus footage - especially the Swedish gig recorded in December 2009 - to appreciate that the band is better on a bigger stage.

Some viewers may also find the camera work a little choppy at Shepherd's Bush and whilst capturing the atmosphere, it sometimes lacks focus on the solos - especially John Norum's - preferring a wider and more egalitarian sweep. The additional interview footage is spoilt by the seemingly unnecessary use of a filter.

The main revelation of this footage confirms what we witnessed first hand on a previous tour when John Norum was busy wiring a pick-up instead of attending the Meet and Greet. But, hey, this is rock 'n' roll; with a soldering iron.

Sadly, the CD version of this set omits Norum's superb tribute to Gary Moore but it is included on the DVD. Otherwise, it's a great souvenir and an excellent summation of the band as they celebrate their 25th anniversary since achieving international recognition with "that song".

The band were brave enough to include a new track 'Doghouse' (on the DVD) which does sound more rock 'n' roll than usual and as they prepare their next album, with Kevin Shirley at the controls, it will be interesting to see the development from 'Last Look At Eden'. The band believed 'Eden' marked the zenith of their musical expression in terms of influences and it was perhaps more appealing to a new audience.


However, thankfully, this 2011 souvenir is well balanced and includes key tracks from those excellent comeback albums - 'Start From The Dark' and 'Secret Society' - along with highlights from their pre-reformation past. And the inclusion of 'More Than Meets The Eye' will satiate loyal fans who own a dog-eared copy of 'Out Of This World'.

The mini-book version includes alternate live versions on CD including the London iTunes Festival and Sonisphere, and a DVD of the iTunes gig and bonus video clips. And for completists, or complete newcomers, the larger book version adds the 'Last Look At Eden' album.


Review by David Randall

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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