In 1981, a rock supergroup formed from members of many of the great bands of the previous two decades including Yes, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. This band is Asia, and despite numerous lineup changes and rocky patches, they are still touring to this day. Playing to an intimate audience in Wolverhampton’s Wulfrun Hall in their latest incarnation (local guitarist Sam Coulson joined their band last year following Steve Howe’s retirement), the band performed a killer set of prog infused goodness from their back catalogue and latest release Gravitas.
Opening with two classics from their 1982 self titled album; Sole Survivor and Wildest Dreams soon had the audience singing along, before performing Valkyrie, where front man John Wetton proved that his vocals were still as powerful yet emotive as they’ve always been. Later it turned into the John Wetton and Geoff Downes show for a while, as the vocal and keys duo performed the innuendo laden Finger On The Trigger, and dedicated Voice Of America to Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson, which was met with a plethora of cheers from the audience.
The night was not just about Wetton and Downes though, as Carl Palmer performed an epic 5 minute drum solo later in the night after Don’t Cry. Showing no signs of slowing down, Carl was as fluent on the kit as ever, exploring every single cymbal and drum a multitude of times. Despite several jokes throughout the night about guitarist Sam being too young to remember Asia’s songs the first time around (he was born in 1987), he certainly seemed to be able to perform their songs with no recollection problems. Showing off his talent, Coulson pulled off some very impressive fretwork and solos throughout and seemed to breathe some new life into the band.
Not wanting to waste anyone’s time with an encore act of leaving the stage and then returning, the band instead opted to stay on the stage and perform their ‘encore’ tracks in one smooth transition. Closing the show on their biggest hit Heat Of The Moment, Asia left the audience satisfied that they had watched something special, proving that despite years of changes the band still have their magic.