“Fantasia Live In Tokyo” [Blu-ray] by Asia

Artist: Asia
Title: “Fantasia Live In Tokyo” [Blu-ray]
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date: 3/31/2009
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

The standard edition of this video came out back in 2007 and it was a great one that presented to the world’s Progressive Rock fans the mighty Asia reunited and stronger than ever. Since that time the advancements in video technology have given us a higher definition format to enjoy these kinds of releases and in 2009 we saw this film upgraded to the Blu-ray format. In 2010 this format is slowly becoming the dominant version and now laptops, PC’s and gaming systems are letting you enjoy them with brighter colors and incredible audio sonic quality. Having reviewed this with its initial release and finding no real difference in the content presented, I have slightly edited my original narrative and present it to you with thoughts about the Blu-ray version.

Even though the history books will note this as fact I still refuse to believe that it has been more than twenty five years since I first purchased my original vinyl copy of the debut by Asia – the blockbuster album that was simply entitled “Asia”. Twenty five years old and this album when played today still sounds as fresh and exciting as it used to and reminds me of the Progressive Rock promise that it held for all the fans of the individual players who made up the group. For those who might be too young to remember this album and group let me bring you up to speed a little; Asia was essentially a super group when such a term was not as commonly used and that included members that were true legends from their genres. In Asia we found John Wetton (King Crimson), Steve Howe (Yes), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) and Geoff Downes (The Buggles) all working together to create a masterpiece of Melodic Progressive Rock. Their efforts were a resounding success and yes it was geared more for a wider audience than some of the more stoic Progressive Rock fans would have liked but in the end it worked out like gangbusters with Asia achieving a #1 position on the Billboard album charts and offering up six charting singles. Not bad for an album that only had nine songs to begin with. Sadly this super-combination of Rockers would not remain together in this incarnation past the second album and this release “Alpha” was not too well-received as it delved deeper into the commercial aspect of the first one. Fast forwarding twenty five years into the future we find the original and founding members of the lineup reunited for a world tour to celebrate the anniversary of their initial formation and this breakthrough album. The Blu-ray DVD film “Fantasia – Live In Tokyo” of course finds the band performing in Japan in front of a sold out crowd as they celebrated one of the many evenings on this very well-received reunion. Since I was unable to attend any of the shows that came around my area I was very pleased to see this released for the home viewing audience and thanks to Eagle Vision Entertainment who have once again brought the event right into our homes. Given this was done for the anniversary of the album “Asia” itself, the set list for the concert features the performance of the entire album but instead of doing it straight through as some bands who would be doing such a presentation would likely do, Asia mixes it up across the course of the evening. The hits from the debut release and interlaced with songs from the individual members original bands and even some music from the bands follow up release.

The songs from the debut album still sound strong but of course the guys have mellowed just a little and with twenty five years having passed this is to be expected of them. They still play very well and in some cases probably are even a little better in terms of their technique but visually this does not come off as a very exciting show to watch in concert. There was more of a sit down audience for this one but I am sure at other places the crowd remained standing from the moment it began. Often it is the culture of the people and the venue itself that govern how the audience will act. As the show played through I was finding that I can listen to the entire debut from start to finish and still have the very same favorite tunes and this has not changed yet. My tunes of note remain with the signature hit “Heat Of The Moment” along with “Sole Survivor” and “Only Time Will Tell”. The video gets quite interesting with the selections from the members previous bands as we find a little Yes, King Crimson, Buggles and ELP being delivered for good measure. Of them all I was thinking that “Fanfare For The Common Man” is perhaps the best of the lot for me because I felt it weird to hear John Wetton singing “Roundabout”. Maybe it was because the tune in my head automatically keys me in to the voice of Jon Anderson whenever I hear it. I also felt that Carl Palmer did not handle the subtlety that Bill Bruford does the song with and this is even with him being one of my favorite drummers in history. Carl gets to show off his stuff in a very hot drum solo. He has not lost any of his luster that’s for sure. Another oddity in the set was the inclusion of “Video Killed The Radio Star” and yes, I know they had to do it since it’s the big song from Geoff Downes past but it was a very “off” sounding number with these legends of Progressive Rock giving their representation of quirky Pop New Wave. The band does an alternate version of the main hit from the album “Alpha” by giving us an acoustically driven “Don’t Cry” and I could have done without this since the original version showed that it needed no tampering at all. Either way this was a good time to watch and relive the magic of the lineup of the band that is the most revered as they perform their established hits and give us their own take on some other stuff that is tied to them. The bonus features are rather limited with just interviews with the group. If this was a show you wanted to see and didn’t then I would defiantly advise you to pick this one up.

Back when this video originally came out there was a companion live CD also released and it features the exact same set and includes the same liner notes booklet. I recommended this for those fans that consider themselves diehards or those who simply hates music videos, should such a person exist anymore. With the technology able to do it, I am really thinking that the Blu-ray format needs to start including the means to download the concert on audio to ones Ipod or Smartphone since these are the main means of people enjoying music nowadays. If you didn’t already own this, it is still a recommended release and one that I think many will appreciate.

Track Listing:
1. Time Again
2. Wildest Dreams
3. One Step Closer
4. Roundabout
5. Without You
6. Cutting It Fine
7. Intersection Blues – Steve’s Solo
8. Fanfare For The Common Man
9. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
10. Don’t Cry

Official Website: http://www.originalasia.com

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