For a moment on Saturday night, I wasn’t sure if I was at a Doctor Who convention or an Asia concert. Prior to the start of the show at the Granada Theater in Dallas, fan tweets were shown on a large screen. “‘Only Time Will Tell’ when Asia will take the stage,” read one tweet. “Until then ‘Don’t Cry,'” read another. Then came a tweet that seemed to catch everyone’s attention: “Are there any Doctor Who fans here?” There were plenty of them. “Doctor Who and Asia: two British icons,” one person tweeted. Indeed, just as the Doctor Who television series features a time-travelling lead character, Asia continues to journey across continents building loyal and cult-like followings. The band’s performance at the Granada Theater on Saturday night not only revealed how they earned their supergroup status of the ’80s, but more importantly, proved that they are still worthy of the elite status today.
It didn’t take long for Asia to transport fans in their time machine as they opened with “Sole Survivor” and “Wildest Dreams” from their 1982 debut album. The songs gave fans their first glimpse at Asia’s new lead guitarist, Sam Coulson. While he wasn’t even alive in 1982, Coulson fit right in with the band and stood appropriately enough in front of drummer Carl Palmer, the two feeding off of each other’s energy throughout the show. The rest of the band was in on the vibe as well with lead singer John Wetton turning in a vibrant and chipper performance.
The electric atmosphere spilled into the audience. Asia fans were ready for anything…new songs, old songs, rare songs…it didn’t matter. A thunderous ovation followed “Face on the Bridge,” a song that is only two years old. Even newer material like “Gravitas” and “Valkyrie” had fans roaring with approval.
When it came time to slow things down, Wetton and keyboardist Geoff Downes turned in a beautiful and captivating performance of “I Know How You Feel.” Wetton then strapped on an acoustic guitar for “Voice of America.” The soft-set came to a dramatic climax with the ballad “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.” Just as fans thought the song was over, the band tore into a rocking reprise that turned the tune into an arena anthem straight out of the ’80s.
Any Asia fan knows that no show would be complete without a solo from the man, the myth, the legend…drummer Carl Palmer. As exciting as he is to watch during a show, Palmer’s drum solos are simply breathtaking. Just about everyone had their phones out to record Palmer’s dazzling display of drumming dexterity.
With the energy in the room at a fever pitch following Palmer’s solo, the band launched into two of their biggest hits, “Only Time Will Tell” and “Heat of the Moment.” The perfect ending to a perfect show.
Just as Doctor Who has entertained television audiences for decades, Asia continues to treat music fans to legendary performances. Whether transporting fans to the past with classic hits or exploring new frontiers with fresh material, Asia continues to be one of rock’s biggest supergroups.
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