Here's another timely release that just happens to be coming out a few short weeks after the passing of legendary vocalist & bassist John Wetton, this one a live recording from 2013 by Asia courtesy of the folks at Frontiers Records. Recorded on September 21, 2013 during the Sounds of the Ages festival a the IInd Century Roman Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the band, which included Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer, keyboard player Geoff Downes, and guitarist Sam Coulson (who had recently replaced Steve Howe) played a selection of their strongest songs from throughout their long career. As an added bonus, the band was even joined by The Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Levon Manukian, on a selection of tracks.
Featuring all the mandatory tunes from the very first two Asia albums, such as "Sole Survivor", "Time Again", "Heat of the Moment", "Only Time Will Tell", "Don't Cry", "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes", "Wildest Dreams", and "Open Your Eyes", the band mixes in later period songs like "The Face on the Bridge", Heroine", "Holy War", and "An Extraordinary Life" from the XXX, Phoenix, and Omega albums. A cool treat is the inclusion of "Days Like These" from the Then & Now album, an upbeat track that is sort of a forgotten gem from that mid '90s set. The orchestra comes into play for the second half of the concert and adds a little bit of majestic grandeur alongside Downes' keyboard flourishes, but overall this concert is ultimately about how powerful Wetton's vocals still are and the metallic guitar skills of Coulson. The youngster is about as different from Steve Howe as you can get, but his flashy playing actually works quite well on these poppy/proggy classics.
While some might say that the last thing we need is another Asia live album, this one comes as many of us are still mourning the death of Wetton, and he's the star here and honestly, we can never get enough of that magic voice.
03.The Face On The Bridge
04.My Own Time
06.An Extraordinary Life
07.Days Like These
08.Open Your Eyes
09.Only Time Will Tell
12.The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
14.Heat Of The Moment