2023 seems to be the year of the multiple vinyl live album, first The Tangent with the triple vinyl release of the excellent ‘Pyramids, Stars & More: The Tangent Live Recordings 2004-2017’ and then Transatlantic with a quadruple (yes, you read that right!) vinyl release of the monumental ‘The Final Flight: Live at L’Olympia’. Well, it’;s now the turn of venerable prog supergroup ASIA with a triple vinyl version of ‘FANTASIA, LIVE IN TOKYO 2007’, have we got another slam dunk brilliant release? read on and you will find out…
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of ASIA’s formation, this exciting 18-track live show from their 2007 world tour features the reformed original line-up pooling the talents of lead vocalist/bassist John Wetton (King Crimson), Steve Howe (guitars, Yes), Geoff Downes (keyboards, Yes and Buggles) and drummer Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
The setlist focusses on their globally successful 1982 debut album ‘Asia‘ and features key tracks Only Time Will Tell, Sole Survivor and their worldwide anthem Heat Of The Moment along with select tracks from their second LP ‘Alpha‘ and one song each from the band members’ previous bands – Video Killed The Radio Star, Roundabout, Fanfare For The Common Man and The Court Of The Crimson King.
The package itself is a rather fine thing with artwork form the legendary Roger Dean and a very knowledgeable LP sized booklet telling the whole story behind the concert.
Now, to me, live albums can either be good or bad, there is nothing worse than a badly performed version of a classic song with a horrendous mix from the sound desk meaning you really cannot tell what you are listening to but, when done well, they can become a lasting monument to some of our favourite musicians.
I’ll cut the suspense and get to the point, this new live release is absolutely fantastic for the die hard Asia fan and newcomers to the band alike. Stand out highlights for me are the obvious ones. The versions of Heat Of The Moment and Sole Survivor are without a doubt the best live versions you are likely to hear, John Wetton’s distinctive vocals are on seriously good form and you can literally feel the dynamism and intensity in his performance. His banter with the crowd is particularly good between songs and means there is never any lull or drop in energy levels from the band or the crowd.
Wildest Dreams, Without You, Don’t Cry, Here Comes The Feeling, the hits keep coming with passion and fervour and you really get to feel the strong bond between Wetton and Carl Palmer, a very tight rhythm section indeed. The inclusion of tracks form the band member’s previous bands is also a masterstroke, I found myself mesmerised by Roundabout, one of my favourite tracks from Yes and you can hear that Steve Howe is having the time of his life as his guitar literally dances through this classic track. John Wetton does a great job on vocals for Video Killed The Radio Star but it’s really Geoff Downes time to shine on this track and I can’t help but break into a smile when the intro to the song begins. Downes is obviously having a blast on a wonderfully inspired version of Fanfare For The Common Man and the quartet’s delivery of the King Crimson mainstay, The Court Of The Crimson King is positively masterful.
This three LP boxset is a wonderful way to spend an evening and the format definitely gives you a feeling of nostalgia, it’s full of memories and a lasting legacy for four of progressive rock’s greatest musicians having the time of their life, they really don’t make them like this anymore! As the last notes of Heat Of The Moment play out and the audience’s cheers and applause fade out, I can’t help but wish I’d been there that evening, right in the midst of what was obviously an amazing concert and experience and that’s what the best live albums do, isn’t it?
Released 24th February, 2023
Order the boxset here: