#Review: Asia – Fantasia Live in Tokyo 2007

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Multi-platinum selling English supergroup ASIA announce they are to release for the first time ever on vinyl ASIA ‘FANTASIA, LIVE IN TOKYO 2007’ as a 3LP set.  Recorded on Asia’s 25th anniversary 2007 world tour, and featuring the reformed original line-up, FANTASIA, LIVE IN TOKYO 2007 is to be issued on vinyl as a 3LP set with booklet, including band photos, and sleeve notes through BMG Records on 24th February 2023.

Pre-order it here.

Review:

What new thing can be said about prog? Circa fifty years since the peak of the movement in the early nineteen seventies, what can be said has likely been said already. What’s more, what new things can be said about an album release of a 2007 show that was celebrating prog rock supergroup Asia’s formation, twenty-five years after the fact? The truth is little. Writers and critics have been commentating on this for far longer than I’ve been taking breath – what authority do I have?

That said, can I just get down to waxing lyrical over this masterful musicianship? There’s so much to admire here. A supergroup to defeat all others. I mean what’s the point of a supergroup if you’re not creating something as epic as this? Kudos bassist/vocalist John Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer, keyboardist Geoff Downes and guitarist Steve Howe, ASIA were the epitome of a supergroup of rock aristocracy and the natural heir to its members’ legendary bands of the 70s – King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Buggles and Yes.

I do feel a kinship with the music makers here, as an active poet that is heavily inspired by jazz I feel an empathy with artists who are making work that is a tough sell to the mainstream. It’s true that prog is a tough cookie to crack, it’s one of those, if you know you know – if you get it you get it. I grew up listening to Zappa and while he himself distanced himself from that label, there’s no disputing there are commonalities. More than this, I discovered Yes in my dad’s LP collection before hitting ten, and it half scared me. Music doesn’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t really sound like this – could it? Well, it can and it does, and if you listen hard enough, it can bring so much joy.

I once heard a colleague ask another colleague how old they were, and on learning that the second colleague was almost forty, the former declared that they were too old to get into Asia. Laughable! Fantasia, Live in Tokyo is undoubtedly a tough listen at times – but that’s kind of the point. It’s designed to challenge the listener, to push the boundaries of taste to their limits, to reach out to see what is humanly possible. But it’s also an album on which the original line-up get back together and it’s far more accessible than a layman might imagine. Consider, Intersection Blues, and Video Killed the Radio Star for example. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes comes at the perfect point in the proceedings and Side D is close to purity. The live show set list was primarily focused on the eponymous debut album, Asia. Consequently, there’s nostalgia here too. Although, I will accept that album releases such as this are not overtly prospecting for new fans (yet, of course they are). No, they’re really for the die-hards, those who were there the first time around. These are collector’s items that members of fan clubs and forums will gleefully eat up.

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