Sunday, August 29, 2010
Asia: twice was more than nice
Photo by Armando Brown; originally published in the Orange County Register. This photo of John Wetton and Carl Palmer was taken at Club Nokia.
Before catching Asia at Club Nokia on Friday night (Aug. 27) and then at the Grove of Anaheim on Saturday night (Aug. 28), I can't recall the last time I saw a major concert act play live two nights in a row.
Although the quartet's set was almost identical both nights, there were plenty of great reasons to catch singer-bassist John Wetton, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Carl Palmer and keyboardist Geoff Downes twice in two days.
Firstly, the current version of the band features the original line-up and all four members are still at the top of their artistic powers. Although there are those who don't like prog-rock or melodic rock, Asia continues to be among the best-ever at crafting songs that are inventive, accessible and showcase virtuoso musicianship free of bombast.
Secondly, Asia is touring in support of the second strong full-length album since its return in 2006. Phoenix was an unexpected surprise in 2008, and 2010's Omega makes it clear the band's return is a great one.
In fact, many of the highlights of Asia's concerts this past weekend came from those recent releases. The band opened both shows with the uplifting and driving "I Believe," and also featured the powerful political opus "Holy War"and confessional "Through My Veins" in the first half of the set. The second half of the set saw the inclusion of "An Extraordinary Life," a joyous song that celebrates survival that is a highlight on Phoenix and proved to shine in the live setting too.
A third thing to celebrate about both Asia shows was the audience. It has become the norm in recent years that a large number of concert-goers chat, yell over their cell phone while telling their pals that they are at so-and-so show, and are generally obnoxious. Both crowds were amazing, with just about everyone really listening to the musicians. What a concept: if you go to a concert, you actually care about the music.
Asia's setlist on Aug. 27 and Aug. 28:
1. I Believe
2. Only Time Will Tell
3. Holy War
4. Never Again
5. Through My Veins
6. Don't Cry
7. Steve Howe solo (two acoustic numbers)
8. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
9. Open Your Eyes
11. Time Again
12. An Extraordinary Life
13. End Of The World
14. The Heat Goes On (including Carl Palmer's drum solo)
15. Sole Survivor
16. Days Like These
17. Heat of the Moment