I can think of about twenty other concert videos I was more excited to get last year than this new Asia DVD. Hence the rather dated review. Although I am a fan of Asia, and a 27-year (and counting) proud owner of their 1982, eponymous, debut album, I was never exactly waiting with bated breath for these guys to reunite. I was intrigued enough, however, to not only get this DVD, but to also score tickets to a show on this summer's tour where they open for Yes.
In 2006, the original four members of Asia (John Wetton, Geoffrey Downes, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer) reunited to celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary of their multi-platinum selling debut album. Fantasia - Live In Tokyo captures their March 8th, 2007 performance at the Shinjuku Koseinenkin-Hall, Tokyo, Japan, which was one of seven sold-out shows in Japan that same week.
The first question that popped into my head while watching this DVD is "what rock group in their right mind would film a concert video in Japan?" Nothing against my Japanese brothers, I lived in Japan for three years and they are some of the most ardent music fans in the world, but they all just sit there in their business suits like they were waiting for the opera to begin. Perhaps it was a thank you for all of the sold-out shows.
Keeping with tradition, this concert opens with one of the most lackluster intros I have ever seen. As pre-recorded classical music pumps out of the PA, the camera pans between an empty stage and an audience that could have been mistaken for cardboard cutouts. The band eventually strolls on stage to polite applause and opens with "Time Again," accompanied by a light show that was unlikely to ignite any more excitement. Three large video screens drape the back of the stage, but when they are not showing the band members, they are mostly just displaying meaningless computer-generated graphics.
Another song from the debut album follows, "Wildest Dreams", and Carl Palmer treats you to a short, Buddy Rich-like drum solo towards the end of the song. He turns in a more dazzling extended drum solo later on in the set. It is always a treat to watch this guy play. The entire debut album would be played this night, along with three tracks from their sophomore release, Alpha, as well as a song from each of the member's previous bands.