Asia – Fantasia, Live In Tokyo, 2007 (3xLP Set)


Comprising four musicians of the upmost pedigree, Asia are the very epitome of a supergroup. So, when the original line-up reformed in 2006 (to celebrate their 25th anniversary) a wave of excitement and anticipation reverberated throughout the rock community. By the time the tour hit Japan, Asia had put all past differences aside and were at the peak of their powers. A magical evening at the Shinjuku Kosei Nenkin Hall on 8th March was captured on tape and is now released as Fantasia, Live In Tokyo, 2007, a triple vinyl set that documents the musical power that the original incarnation of Asia wielded.

Asia certainly know how to make an entrance and ‘Time Again’ is an opener guaranteed to set pulses racing. It had been used to open Asia concerts as far back as 1982 and the prevailing years haven’t blunted its power. Those vamping chords, punctuated by vocal harmonies, are tailor made to raise the tension to unbearable levels before the spell is broken as ‘Time Again’ evolves into a delectable piece of ear candy which sweeps the audience along on the crest of a catchy melody. It evidences a band who are finally happy in their own company and they lock in tightly like a series of interconnected cogs to deliver a sound that perfectly encapsulated the Asia aesthetic; it has that melodic AOR sensibility, but tempered with progressive time changes. They weren’t always easy bedfellows but Asia married them perfectly on ‘Time Again’ and, indeed, the whole of Fantasia, Live In Tokyo.

On this reunion tour Asia were mindful to give fans exactly what they wanted and the set list included all of their eponymous debut album (three songs from Asia opened the concert) alongside legacy tracks from The Buggles, ELP, King Crimson and Yes to acknowledge the musical lineage of each band member. The acoustic introduction to Yes’ ‘Roundabout’ gets a massive cheer (naturally) and is played impeccably by guitarist Steve Howe (as he did on the original) and he guides the band through several suites of prog rock heaven. An exceptionally hard-hitting version of ELP’s ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’ is the perfect vehicle for Carl Palmer’s drumming (as is a grinding rendition of King Crimson’s ‘The Court Of The Crimson King’) while the pure pop of The Buggles’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ allows Geoffrey Downes to display some keyboard wizardry. However, the real revelation is John Wetton’s vocal display, and he tailors his voice, seemingly effortlessly, to each song. If his vocal versatility were ever in doubt, then this live outing will put such (foolish) notions to rest.

The hallowed halls of progressive rock are adorned with classic live albums; Marillion’s The Thieving Magpie, Rush’s Exit…Stage Left and Camel’s A Live Record all shine brightly. Now you can add Fantasia, Live In Tokyo to that illustrious list. It’s one of those rarefied live albums which capture the magic of the evening on which it was recorded. Close your eyes and Fantasia will transport you and plant you front row, centre stage and, from Carl Palmer’s thunderous drum solo during ‘The Heat Goes On’ to Wetton riling up the crowd on anthemic closer ‘Heat Of The Moment’, this is the real deal and after the sad and untimely death of John Wetton, is the closest we’re going to get to the authentic Asia live experience.

Asia still continue with a vastly different line-up, but this magical moment, immortalised on triple vinyl, Fantasia, Live In Tokyo, 2007 is your ticket to the finest show on earth.

Track List:

Side A:

  1. Time Again
  2. Wildest Dream
  3. One Step Closer

Side B:

  1. Roundabout
  2. Without You

Side C:

  1. Cutting It Fine
  2. Intersection Blues
  3. Fanfare For The Common Man

Side D:

  1. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
  2. Don’t Cry
  3. In The Court Of The Crimson King
  4. Here Comes The Feeling

Side E:

  1. Video Killed The Radio Star
  2. The Heat Goes On
  3. Only Time Will Tell

Side F:

  1. Sole Survivor
  2. Ride Easy
  3. Heat Of The Moment