Midnight Sun (Aqua Light AL-003/04)
Poplar Creek Music Theater, Hoffman Estates, IL – June 17th, 1982
Disc 1 (58:44): Time Again, Wildest Dreams, Without You, Steve Howe’s Acoustic guitar solo incl. Mood For A Day – Clap – Ram, Midnight Sun, Only Time Will Tell, One Step Closer, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, Cutting It Fine – Geoff Downes’ keyboard solo
Disc 2 (54:21): Here Comes The Feeling – Carl Palmer’s drum solo, Sole Survivor, Heat Of The Moment, I Would Die For You, Asia interview ’82 Radio 1
After Asia was released in March 1982 and “Heat Of The Moment” hit number one on the charts, their US tour progressed from theaters to bigger venues to accommodate demand for tickets. On June 17th, they played the Poplar Creek Music Theater in Hoffman Estates, just outside of Chicago, which held a capacity of 20,000 both under the pavilion and on the grass.
Midnight Sun on Aqua Light is the sole silver release of the show. The label utilizes a very good and clear audience recording of the event. There are scant audience conversations within earshot of the tape, but nothing too distracting. There is a tape flip after “Only Time Will Tell” and a big cut in “One Step Closer,” which fades out after three minutes. Also, the final four songs on disc one “One Step Closer,” “Only Time Will Tell,” “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” and “Cutting It Fine” are all tracked together.
The setlist is similar to that used during the spring concerts earlier in the year. Except for Steve Howe’s solo section, all of the music are original Asia songs. No songs from their previous bands were included.
The tape starts off with the taped introduction leading into “Time Again” and “Wildest Dreams,” both from the Asia LP and which follow one another in sequence. After Wetton greets the audience, they continue with “Wildest Dreams.”
In addition to the songs from the album, three of the four musicians have solo spots. Steve Howe’s is first. Playing for ten minutes, he performs “Mood For A Day,” “Clap,” “Surface Tension” and “Ram” from both the Yes days and his own solo albums.
In the middle of the set they play two newer songs, “Midnight Sun” and “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.” Both would be released on the second album Alpha in the summer of 1983. The latter could count as Wetton’s solo spot.
“Cutting It Fine” contains Geoffrey Downes’ solo spot. He opts for a more classical approach instead of the Buggles laden chaos from the previous year’s Drama tour.
Carl Palmer’s drum solo is in the following song “Here Comes The Feeling.” It sounds very much like the solo he played on the latter day ELP tours included in “Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression.”
The show ends with their two biggest hits, “Soul Survivor” and “Heat Of The Moment.”
Aqua Light include two bonus tracks. The first is the Wetton/Downes song “I Would Die For You.” At the time Midnight Sun was released in 1999 the song was unreleased, but would go on to be included on the 2002 album Wetton And Downes.
The second is a BBC radio interview from 1982 right before the tour. The announcer talks to the entire band, speaking about the “commerciality” of the new album and how well they sound like a band instead of a group of virtuoso musicians playing together.
There are long discussions about their former bands including the Yes Drama period and the latter days of King Crimson and Emerson Lake And Palmer. It is an interesting time piece, showing just how surprised the British music press were by the initial success of the band.
Midnight Sun is packaged in a slimline jewel case with very thick inserts for the artwork. The manufacturers don’t know the specific venue information, listening this simply as “Chicago.” Nevertheless, it is a very good release when progressive rock bands enjoyed nice editions of their rare shows.