Self Made Man is back and looking forward to what could well be one of the greatest classic rock gigs of his lifetime.

Read on to find out where he’s heading…and why!

And don’t forget you can read Self Made Man exclusively right here every week. 



Two true stories.

1 A mate of mine has two tickets for tonight’s Europe gig at the Carling Academy. He can’t find anyone to go with.

2 Someone else I know very well, was asked a few months ago if he wanted to borrow Europe’s new album Bag Of Bones. He declined.

I am writing this a few hours before Europe hit the stage in Newcastle tonight. To the best of my knowledge, my mate has still not found anyone to accompany him.

As for the mate who rejected the chance to listen to Bag Of Bones, well, actually, that was me.

I did eventually listen to Europe’s latest release. Someone sent me a copy, without actually identifying the artist. “Give it a listen,” he urged me. “You’ll like it.”

“Is it a new band?” I asked. He refused to tell me, thinking, probably quite correctly, that any more information might prejudice my verdict.

There is a slight caveat to this tale. Before listening to Bag Of Bones in its entirety, I had heard the single Not Suppose To Sing The Blues and liked it. Really liked it.

The album was hugely enjoyable with several stand-out tracks and little filler material. In fact, I’d go so far to say Bag Of Bones is a definite contender to be included in my Top Ten for 2012 – and considering what a vintage year this has been for rock music, that’s some testimony.

My vindicated pal then lent me the album’s predecessor, 2009’s Last Look At Eden and, surprise, surprise, it was just as good, classic rock at its pounding, melodic, vibrant best.

Europe had clearly reinvented themselves from the band who almost defined 80s rock with the multi-million selling The Final Countdown.

I never actually hated TFC but it was a track of its time. Europe, I had decided, were a band with little relevance outside that synthesised decade.

It seems I was not alone in reaching that conclusion. For every album they sold back then, the Swedish band picked up a detractor.

To 99 per cent of the population, they remain the band which sang The Final Countdown and Joey Tempest and his mates will forever be identified with Sweden’s most famous musical export outside of Abba.

Thankfully, I’m now one of the one per cent who realise how wrong that lazy perception really is.

Having listened to their last two albums, which, I understand will form the nucleus of tonight’s set list, I am really looking forward to the gig.

I’m expecting it to be a corker and this time tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll be proud to tell anyone who cares to listen: “I’ve been to see Europe in concert and they were bloody marvellous.”

Ian Murtagh