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Music & Concerts
Asia plays ‘Asia’ at The Cap
Wetton, Palmer, Downes and Howe reunite to perform Asia’s debut album
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[Image]
Photo courtesy of RUTH ECKERD HALL
Original Asia band members are, from left, Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Steve Howe.
CLEARWATER – After more than 30 years in the recording industry, the original lineup of progressive rock supergroup Asia has reunited to revisit their 1982 debut album.

Asia will perform Tuesday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m., at Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater.

Tickets start at $69. Call 791-7400 or visit www.atthecap.com.

The band will perform their debut album, “Asia,” in its entirety.

Asia’s self-titled debut release became the biggest selling album of 1982 spawning several Top 10 singles and sales exceeding 7 million copies. This supergroup, featuring bassist/vocalist John Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer, keyboardist Geoff Downes and guitarist Steve Howe, was the logical successor to their collective progressive rock bands of the ’70s.

Supergroup origins

Before the formation of Asia in 1981, its founders had already achieved fame in other progressive rock institutions. In fact, Asia came about following the apparent demise of two 1970s British flagship bands Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Steve Howe had joined Yes in 1970 as a replacement for Peter Banks. Beginning with the band’s third album, “The Yes Album,” released in 1971, Howe played a pivotal role in creating the sound that would become the band’s trademark on albums such as “Fragile,” “Close to the Edge” and “Relayer.” Howe stayed with Yes until the band broke up in 1981 – and did not rejoin when Yes reformed in 1983.

Carl Palmer had already made a mark for himself playing in The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster when Greg Lake and Keith Emerson approached him in the late 1960s about forming a trio. Emerson, Lake & Palmer managed to fuse art rock, jazz, electronica, pop rock and classical music on albums such as “Tarkus,” “Trilogy” and “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Palmer stayed with ELP until it disbanded in 1979.

John Wetton had served as vocalist for revolving-door prog-rock band King Crimson, appearing on “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic,” “Starless and Bible Black” and “Red.” This incarnation of the band ceased to be after 1974. Following his stint with King Crimson, Wetton worked on a number of projects including albums released by Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music and Uriah Heep. From 1977 to 1980, he was a member of the supergroup UK.

Along with Trevor Horn – lead vocalist on the 1980 Yes album “Drama” – Geoff Downes formed the New Wave duo The Buggles, best known for the 1979 debut single “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

Debut album

According to the group’s official website, Asia came together in the spring of 1981. The four band members spent five months writing, arranging and recording nine songs for their first release that included such classics as “Heat Of The Moment,” “Only Time Will Tell” and “Sole Survivor.” Though all four men had seen chart-topping success in their previous bands, Asia has a special chemistry that fans and music industry insiders were quick to recognize.

The media assigned the moniker “supergroup” almost immediately, much to the chagrin of Asia band members. According to the group’s website, it was a tag they had never asked for. They believed then – and still believe today – that Asia’s music and rock ’n’ roll charisma developed organically and effortlessly.

“The band sort of came together naturally,” says Palmer on the group’s website. “It wasn’t something which was forced. We all wanted to play together. We had a great time doing it.”

Geffen Records signed the band in the summer of 1981.

“I think that we all knew as soon as we recorded the first few songs that it was going somewhere special,” says Wetton. “I don’t think we knew, however, until we recorded ‘Heat Of The Moment’ that we had a monster on our hands. I think that once we had done that, everyone knew that it was going to be successful.”

Released March 18, 1982, “Asia” reached No. 1 in the United States where it spent nine weeks at the top of the charts. The complete track listing, in order, follows: side one, “Heat of the Moment,” “Only Time Will Tell,” “Sole Survivor,” “One Step Closer” and “Time Again,” and, side two, “Wildest Dreams,” “Without You,” “Cutting It Fine” and “Here Comes the Feeling.”

Helping propel the album to the top of the charts was Geffen’s promotional machine and another critical element: a relatively new music media outlet called MTV.

Asia, aware of the network’s impact on the industry, began shooting videos as soon as the album was finished. The result was a rock ’n’ roll marriage made in heaven.

Reunion

In 2006, all four original members of Asia confirmed that they would be reuniting for a world tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band's creation and debut album.

In 2008, Asia released “Phoenix,” the first album to feature the four original members of the band since 1983’s “Alpha.” The band continued to tour until major heart surgery for Wetton in the second half of the year saw remaining tour dates rescheduled for 2008.

In 2010, the band released “Omega.” The album was named as the fourth-best prog album of 2010 by “Classic Rock” magazine.

The band’s latest album, “XXX,” was released earlier this summer and blends the unique styles of all four members producing an experience fans the world over will enjoy. Its name reflects the fact that 2012 marks 30 years since the release of “Asia.”

“This is the real Asia,” said guitarist Steve Howe in a press release. “There have been other versions of the band, but this original lineup is the one that the public truly embraced.”
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