This is a 2 disc offering having the music on one disc and a complete video on the other. The album comprises the entire first album (Asia, 1982) with a couple of added tracks. I like Asia and have several of their early albums and the line-up here is as it was in those early days with John Wetton supplying bass and lead vocals, Steve Howe on guitar, Carl Palmer on drums and Geoff Downes on keyboards.
The album was recorded at the 2010 High Voltage festival in Victoria Park, London and comes just a few months after the bands’ latest studio album, Gravitas, released in March this year. I love John Wetton’s voice for its distinctiveness, and that has changed little over the years, couple this with Wetton’s bass, the outstanding skills of Downes, Howe and Palmer and you could expect an album of epic proportions.
Sadly, that’s not quite the case. The album gets under way well enough with ‘Only Time Will Tell‘ and it sounds we’re in for a cracker with Howe’s sharp guitar and Downes’ keyboards filling the gaps very well. Wetton’s vocals come to the fore but every now and then there’s a hint of strain as the years have taken their toll. Next up is ‘Wildest Dreams‘ and, again, the music is excellent, the lead vocals getting a little better. The backing vocals leave much to be desired. Then it all falls apart and the band kill the third track, ‘One Step Closer‘, with vocals that are nothing short of a disaster. Wetton tries to recover matters but even his voice can’t perform miracles, it’s truly awful! One of the additional songs comes next, ‘An Extraordinary Life‘ from the 2008 Phoenix album and is one of the best tracks on the album. The band recover their composure as Wetton’s voice largely carries them through the next three songs, ‘Time Again‘, ‘Cutting it Fine‘ & ‘Without You‘. The next ‘guest’ song comes along in the form of ‘I Believe‘ from 2010’s album Omega. The set finishes with three of their best known songs, ‘Here Comes the Feeling‘, ‘Sole Survivor‘ & ‘Heat of the Moment‘.
The crowd were relatively subdued until the singalong during the final track, and the lack of crowd noise detracted from the ‘live album’ feel. How to summarise this effort? Musically – hard to fault it. Vocally – could do better, much better particularly with respect to the backing vocals which varied from average to downright awful.
The crowd were relatively subdued until the singalong during the final track, and the lack of crowd noise detracted from the 'live album' feel.