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Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts

Arts

Paul Mann: Asia Brings Anniversary Tour to Chumash Casino Resort

Bassist/vocalist John Wetton performs with the rest of Asia last Thursday at the Chumash Casino Resort.

Bassist/vocalist John Wetton performs with the rest of Asia last Thursday at the Chumash Casino Resort.  (Gary Lambert / Noozhawk photo)

By L. Paul Mann, Noozhawk Contributing Writer |

The four original members of Asia, England’s first super group in the progressive rock genre, brought their 30th anniversary tour to the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez on Thursday night.

Many in the audience came to hear the band play their early ‘80s pop hits, including “Heat of the Moment,” which helped sell 10 million copies of their first album in 1982. But many other ‘70s music fans were in attendance hoping to hear some of the brilliant musicianship associated with the individual members’ projects in that decade.

The original members, including John Wetton (bassist/vocalist), Carl Palmer (drummer), Geoff Downes (keyboardist) and Steve Howe (guitarist), left their successful British groups — Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson and The Buggles, respectively. Coming together as Asia, the band produced a host of mostly mellow pop hits and crooning love ballads.

In their 100-minute show last Thursday at the resort, the band seemed to offer up a balance between Asia’s soft pop hits and brilliant solos harkening back to the members more heady work in the ‘70s, which seemed to appease most fans in the audience.

As usual, the resort presented an awesome production using its massive in-house sound system (some in the back of the venue were actually complaining that the concert was too loud, although most found the booming sound inspiring). The venue also employed its in-house lighting and spectacular video production, feeding its state-of-the-art, high-definition, oversized video screens with astounding images.

The band took the stage and blazed through four rock-drenched songs, leading into a long solo by guitar master Howe. The innovative classical rocker played a brilliant medley of songs, including some of his Yes masterpieces.

Master keyboardist Geoff Downes lived up to his reputation Thursday night. (Gary Lambert / Noozhawk photo)
Master keyboardist Geoff Downes lived up to his reputation Thursday night. (Gary Lambert / Noozhawk photo)

Then it was Wetton’s and Downes’ turn to highlight their skills. The duet played a series of mostly soft-rock ballads, punctuated by some brilliant keyboard work by Downes. The master keyboardist lived up to his reputation, playing a dizzying array of keyboards — many at the same time.

Then it was time for an extended drum solo by Palmer, one of England’s most talented rock drummers of all time. Although he has eliminated his trademark 360-degree spinning drum set from his days with Emerson Lake & Palmer, his solo on his massive drum kit was just as an intense performance as it was in the band’s heyday. Palmer’s drum solos are simply some of the best that the rock world has ever offered up.

The band members then all returned to the stage for a spirited three-song final set, finishing with an intense jam on “Open Your Eyes.”

Fans rushed the stage for the band’s encore, “Heat of the Moment,” which had the audience participating in a sing-along. Asia is a live music conundrum with four brilliant progressive rock music musicians offering up some lightweight pop music hits, interspersed with brilliant moments of jam rock musicianship.

But those brilliant moments make Asia a band worth seeing on tour.

Setlist

Only Time Will Tell
Wildest Dreams
Face on the Bridge
Time Again
Steve Howe acoustic guitar pieces
Don’t Cry
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Cutting It Fine
Geoffrey Downes keyboard solo
Carl Palmer drum solo
An Extraordinary Life
Holy War
Open Your Eyes
Encore
Heat of the Moment
An Extraordinary Life
Holy War
Open Your Eyes

Encore

Heat of the Moment

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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