Asia – A Living Legacy (Virtuoso 143/144)

A Living Legacy (Virtuoso 143/144)

Zepp Nagoya, Nagoya, Japan – September 27th, 2012

Disc 1 (56:07):  Intro, Only Time Will Tell, Wildest Dreams, Face On The Bridge, Time Again, Tomorrow The World, Solitaire, The Clap, I Know How You Feel, Don’t Cry, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes Part 1, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes Part 2

Disc 2 (57:24):  Cutting It Fine, Holy War, Drum Solo, An Extraordinary Life, Here Comes The Feeling, Open Your Eyes, Sole Survivor, Heat Of The Moment, Outro

Since the reintroduction of the original Asia lineup four years ago, the band have done more than be a faithful duplication of their classic sound in the early eighties.  Their latest three albums sought to make their brand of progressive pop a viable and commercial music form again.  With 2012’s XXX finding a home on Billboard and other charts and with positive critical reception, the band have reached an important goal.

They began their thirtieth anniversary tour with four dates in Japan.  The September 27th show in Nagoya was the final night of the four.  A Living Legacy presents an excellent stereo DAT audience tape of the entire performance.  

The setlist is derived from the five albums written and recorded by the classic line up.  Although Steve Howe hinted in an interview just prior to the the trip to Japan they discussed playing the complete Asia album in one of the shows, they abandoned that idea for a broader retrospective and reinterpretation of their catalogue.

Asia also played around with the set from night to night.  Most of the variations occur in Howe’s selection of tunes in his solo section, but they also made some oddball choices such as “Ride Easy,” the obscure B-side to the “Heat Of The Moment” single in 1982, played in Osaka.   

Nagoya, like the other Japan dates, opens with the taped introduction containing an excerpt from Sir Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations:  Nimrod before the band hit the stage with two songs from Asia, “Only Time Will Tell” and the (still) silly “Wildest Dreams.”

Two of three following songs come from the new album, “Face On The Bridge” and “Tomorrow The World.”  Both fit in extremely well with the older classics, sounding like a natural but mature progression in style.  Both spotlight both Carl Palmer’s galloping drums and Steve Howe’s psychedelic / classic guitar melodies.  

Howe follows with his two song solo set.  He seems to spin the wheel and change the selection of numbers performed each night.  In Osaka the previous night he played two songs from The Steve Howe Album “Surface Tension” and “Diary of a Man Who Vanished.”  But in Nagoya he picks two Yes-era tunes.  “Solitaire” is most recent, coming from Yes’ latest album Fly From Here, and “Clap” from 1970’s The Yes Album.  

John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes take center stage with gorgeous versions of “I Know How You Feel” and “Don’t Cry” with only vocal and piano, and a laid back performance of “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.”  

The rest of the band return for “Cutting It Fine” followed by “Holy War,” the only song from 2010’s Omega to find its way into the setlist.

Palmer’s drum solo follows.  Instead of the magnificent synthesized drums of the 70’s, he seems more content to play call-and-response games with the audience.  The drumming leads into “An Extraordinary Life,” the only song from 2008’s Phoenix to be played.  It’s disappointing more songs from their newer albums weren’t included, but Asia at least don’t ignore their latest material like other artists.  

The set ends with “Open Your Eyes” from Alpha.  The encores are “Soul Survivor  and, of course, “Heat Of The Moment” (which finds the band back in ’82 – no emendation of the lyrics).

A Living Legacy is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with wonderful graphics on the artwork.  Virtuoso incorporate elements of both the the first and latest Roger Dean designs on the front along with many photos from the gigs.  The progressive rock label have been on a good run lately with Asia titles and this is one of the better ones to come out.  

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