Asia made a return trip to the Seneca Niagara Casino Saturday evening. This marked their first visit to the Bears Den as the sold out crowd packed the state-of-the-art venue. When Asia played the Events Center in 2006, they were playing their first concerts in over twenty-three years. This time around the band is touring in support of their latest album XXX. Strange as it may seem Asia has released more albums with the original lineup in this six year stint than they did during their glory years.
The all too brief, ninety-five minute set started with a pair of cuts from the heavily represented debut album in “Only Time Will Tell” and “Wildest Dreams”. Up next would be the lone song from XXX, the lead single “Face On The Bridge”. Guitarist Steve Howe played a three song acoustic segment sans band.
Bassist/singer John Wetton and keyboardist Geoffrey Downes took over with a pair of songs from 1983s Alpha. “Don’t Cry” was up first as the song was in a stripped down arrangement as Wetton urged the crowd to sing the chorus. “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” started out with just the two of them but halfway through guitarist Howe and drummer Carl Palmer joined and concluded the song. “Cutting It Fine” appeared to be the most unexpected song of the evening as the band only left out two songs from their eponymous debut.
Speaking of Palmer, the savvy veteran drummer did something astounding. The 62 year old played a near ten minute drum solo that still had people buzzing as they left the venue after the show. To see Palmer perform that solo in the manner he did was something the appreciative fans in attendance will soon never forget.
Asia reached into Phoenix for “Extraordinary Life” as the set slowly winded down. Ending with a stellar version of “Open Your Eyes”, the band left the stage.
Appearing back for what Wetton called “one more” amidst a scream of one fan who stated “fifteen more please”, the band chose to play the gem “Sole Survivor”. Of course Asia could not leave without playing their signature song, “Heat Of The Moment” which brought the crowd to its feet as the band urged the crowd to sing-a-long.
Whoever decided to tuck the band away inside the Bears Den was an absolute genius. Before the band reconvened in ’06, no one would have thought this band would ever be playing live much less putting on a high caliber show in this manner. Not only was the band in what appeared to be in top form as they delivered a show for the ages, it is also one that none of the 440 patrons in attendance will soon forget.
Only Time Will Tell
Face On the Bridge
Steve Howe acoustic solo
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Cutting It Fine
Carl Palmer solo
An Extraordinary Life
Here Comes the Feeling
Open Your Eyes
Heat of the Moment
For more on Asia check out their website www.originalasia.com
A HUGE thank you to Tony Astran for setting us up for reviewing the show!