Review & photos by Rich Ward
With the last couple of scheduled Midlands dates being cancelled, it seemed only fair that when Asia announced a couple of one off dates that the first was within easy reach at the delightful Malvern Theatres. Following the announcement of these two dates, Asia have since booked in a substantial tour taking in the States and Japan before returning to the UK in October.
The tour is promoting new album Gravitas; the first with new guitarist Sam Coulson. Anybody who has already listened to the new album will be aware of his ability, but after a solid opener of ‘Sole Survivor’ there is little more needed to prove him as a worthy successor to Steve Howe.
‘Face On The Bridge’ is an early highlight with its haunting keyboard intro through to its soaring guitar solo outro. ‘Valkyrie’ is the first new song and John Wetton takes the opportunity to announce that this was the first night of 41 date World tour. Downes and Wetton are alone for a stripped down ‘I Know How You Feel’. Two more acoustic tracks follow in ‘My Own Time’ and ‘Voice Of America’ which Wetton introduces as his tribute to Brian Wilson
Wetton quips that “If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself” before the band launch into ‘Gravitas’. He really shouldn’t be concerned; tonight, his voice is in fine shape as rich and warm as it ever was. Mid 80’s ‘Go’ starts with a prog keyboard intro before developing into a full on rocker with it’s monstrous riff and keyboards sounding glorious over Carl Palmer’s drums.
After ‘Don’t Cry’ Carl Palmer’s drum solo ensues. In a larger venue this would undoubtedly see people heading for the bar. In the more intimate setting of the Forum Theatre, everybody is close enough to watch all the intricacies of a master at work, and Palmer not only holds everybody’s attention, but, after the gong hammering finale, receives a standing ovation. The band can now do no wrong from this point on, running through the timeless ‘Only Time Will Tell’ and ‘Open Your Eyes’ with a massive ending. An encore of ‘Heat Of The Moment’ proves that Asia are still a supergroup in every sense of the word.
Asia return to more familiar Midlands territory with a gig at Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall on 30th October.
Read Midlands Rocks’ review of Gravitas here
1. Sole Survivor
2. Wildest Dreams
3. Face on the Bridge
4. Time Again
6. I Know How You Feel
7. My Own Time (I’ll Do What I Want)
8. Voice of America
9. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
10. An Extraordinary Life
12. Days Like These
14. Don’t Cry
15. Drum Solo
16. Only Time Will Tell
17. Open Your Eyes
18. Heat of the Moment