And as the band behind the winning 2013 RUSHONROCK DVD Of The Year Live In Sweden we weren’t at all surprised.
Editor Simon Rushworth caught up with lead singer Joey Tempest with the band already scheduling time to record their 10th studio album.
RUSHONROCK: Live In Sweden was awarded RUSHONROCK’s DVD of 2013 – is it everything you hoped it would be in terms of the definitive live experience?
JOEY TEMPEST: I’m really proud of the Live In Sweden DVD. We still have to pinch ourselves that we’re in a position to make a DVD that captures all our songs on a night when everyone played well. It went so well on the night but of course it could have gone south!
RUSHONROCK: Was it an idea that was hatched some time ago?
JT: We started sending emails to each other and talking at shows a few months before the Sweden Rock set talking about the setlist. Everybody sent their favourite setlists to each other and of course there was a core of songs that we couldn’t leave out. They ranged from Last Look At Eden to Superstitious – songs that we could all agree on straight off. For the Sweden Rock show we also had to contact Scott Gorham and Michael Schenker and make sure they were ok joining us on stage. So there were already two songs on the setlist specifically for them!
RUSHONROCK: Did everything go to plan on the night?
JT: We rehearsed for a week and when it happened we were ready to go. Of course it didn’t go without a hitch. To put together a show on that scale is never easy.
RUSHONROCK: What were the personal highlights?
JT: In the end we got to play Prisoners In Paradise which John Norum had never played with us live so that was just one of the unique aspects to the show. We played Paradise Bay and there were a few more rarely heard songs. Then there was the mini acoustic set in the middle – that was cool. And the light show was outstanding. We’ve been working with the same lighting guy since 1983 and we rely on him to get things right in that respect. A good light show is part of a Europe concert.
RUSHONROCK: Did you get a moment when you could just stand back and soak it all up?
JT: Everybody was so excited. But there were a few times when I could relax and enjoy the moment – especially when we played some of the older songs. I’d take a second to look out at the crowd and appreciate what a great experience this was. I tried to remember what it was like 30 years earlier and tried to imagine what my younger self would have made of it all. I suppose it’s easier to enjoy things now as I’ve experienced so much and I really appreciate the good times. Maybe those times passed me by when I was younger. But on stage I tend to drift into another dimension from time to time – it’s sometimes hard to feel the moment because you’re kind of in the zone. Towards the end of the show it really sunk in just what a career-defining concert it was.
RUSHONROCK: What was it like to share the stage with two of your all-time heroes?
JT: It was incredible to play Jailbreak with Scott and Lights Out with Michael. I couldn’t have dreamed of doing that as a kid. It was incredible. We all wanted to do the show justice and I think we did. I was really proud.
RUSHONROCK: How on earth do you cater for every generation of Europe fan when you don’t have the luxury of a Sweden Rock headline set?
JT: There are a few people who like the new Europe better than the old Europe! That’s fine. But it means we have to cater for everyone in the set. Songs like Superstitious tend to transcend eras though – we play a much bluesier version now and it’s a song that always reflected my love of early Whitesnake. It’s a song that gets better with age.
RUSHONROCK: You made a point of working in some Whitesnake into Superstitious at Newcastle City Hall earlier this month – was the mash-up well received?
JT: I remember playing the City Hall back when we first broke through and I’m well aware that was where the Whitesnake Choir was conceived. I’ve always liked the way people appreciate their rock in the North East. The crowd is always animated and they tend to sing along from the start. When they go to a gig they go to have a patty and that makes a huge difference for the band up on stage.
RUSHONROCK: How did you enjoy the tour with Foreigner and FM?
JT: The whole tour sold well and it’s a real plus because you never know what’s going to happen – however good the package. And that was a good package. We were first approached last summer and then a firm offer came in during the autumn. It was something we jumped at. We played with Foreigner at the iTunes festival in 2010 and they really surprised us in terms of how good they were that night. Mick Jones’ songwriting speaks for itself and we didn’t hesitate to go out on the road with them – we know what Foreigner are all about and they’re a class act. When FM came on board it just seemed like the perfect line-up.
RUSHONROCK: How do you rate Kelly Hansen?
JT: Kelly is an amazing singer. He blew me away at that iTunes Festival gig. He can handle all of the high notes and he still manages to sing all of the Foreigner classics in his own style.
RUSHONROCK: And how about hooking up with FM again after all of these years?
JT: FM supported us at the end of the 80s – they’re really cool guys, they’re great musicians and they have some amazing songs. It was great to see those guys again. It’s great value seeing three good bands on one night and it’s no surprise the shows were sold out when you think about it in those terms. There’ll be some big hits played throughout the night.
RUSHONROCK: Big rock hits in the charts are few and far between these days but 25 years ago they dominated – is it a time you look back on with fondness?
JT: The 80s was a great time for rock anthems and power ballads and I think fans are starting to remember just how great it was back then. There were so many bands writing hit songs and the record business was booming. People are beginning to realise that it’s a time worth revisiting and re-evaluating.