|courtesy Pilato Entertainment|
With Union of Saints
7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, The Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, $55, ticketfly.com, (949) 496-8930.
For longtime fans of Asia, Yes and various offshoot projects, there's a certain excitement factor about seeing a different, yet familiar Roger Dean-designed illustration and logo adorn another new CD.
Such was the case this summer, when I obtained XXX, the latest studio album from Asia on Frontiers Records. The original lineup - guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Geoff Downes, drummer Carl Palmer and lead singer John Wetton - first reunited in 2006 to mark its 25th anniversary. But the legendary musicians didn't take the usual trajectory of classic rockers who get back together.
Typically these bands tour for awhile, maybe release a live set and eventually get around to putting out fresh material. Not the prolific Asia. It unveiled Phoenix in 2008, Omega in 2010 and now, XXX. There have already been two concert recordings: Fantasia: Live in Tokyo (2007); Spirit of the Night: Live in Cambridge '09 (both 2010).
Plenty has been going on with this quartet in recent months. Last month, it was feted at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Legends Series. Earlier this week, AXS TV broadcasted Asia's San Francisco show.
“Resonance,” a DVD concert film of the Omega World Tour in Switzerland, is due out on Nov. 27. In continuation of the 30th Anniversary, Asia also has a new collectorʼs edition box set ($169.95 through originalasia.com) based on the massively successful 1982 eponymous debut, including a remastered edition, a CD of live rare tracks, a historical booklet, limited edition Asia t-shirt and a new documentary: Asia - 30 Years On.
For XXX, Mike Paxman returned to produce the nine track, 50-minute collection. All the songs were co-written by Wetton & Downes, with Howe contributing to a pair. It's another solid effort from Asia.
Standouts include the hard-charging "No Religion," with Downes' prominent organ work and colorful synth flourishes. Wetton turns in a passionate vocal on "Faithful," while a sense of tension envelops "I Know How You Feel." Then there's the intense rock of "Face on the Bridge," whose driving pace is bolstered by Motown-style backing harmonies. "Al Gatto Nero" finds Wetton singing a couple lines in Italian (perhaps a nod to their record company located in Napoli?) and a great drum spotlight by the masterful Palmer.
Remaining U.S. tour dates:
09 November 2012 Agoura Hills, CA Canyon Club
10 November 2012 Las Vegas, NV Green Valley Casino
11 November 2012 San Juan Capistrano, CA Coach House
13 November 2012 Scottsdale, AZ Talking Stick Casino
15 November 2012 Houston, TX House of Blues
16 November 2012 Dallax, TX Granada Theater
17 November 2012 Austin, TX One World Theatre
19 November 2012 Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse
20 November 2012 Clearwater, FL Capitol Theatre
21 November 2012 Orlando, FL FL Plaza Theatre
23 November 2012 Manistee, MI Little River Casino Resort