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Spirit of the Night - Live In Cambridge 2009

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Album Review

The original lineup of the supergroup Asia — vocalist/bass guitarist John Wetton, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and drummer Carl Palmer — first reunited for a tour in 2006 to celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary of 1982's Asia album, and then hit the road again to support 2008's Phoenix. This album was just the third Asia studio effort from these renowned progressive rock veterans. In early 2011, Asia released a solid live album, Spirit of the Night: The Phoenix Tour Live in Cambridge 2009. The special edition includes both a CD and DVD of the show, which was recorded and filmed at the Cambridge Rock Festival on August 9, 2009, in Cambridge, England. Sturdy performances of all the familiar hits and fan favorites are here, including "Heat of the Moment," "Only Time Will Tell," "Sole Survivor," "Don't Cry," "The Heat Goes On," and more. "Never Again" and "An Extraordinary Life," the two best songs from Phoenix, are featured. Unexpected treats are "My Own Time" and "Open Your Eyes" from 1983's Alpha. The bandmembers are talented, consummate professionals and they are obviously enjoying themselves during this show. Wetton's deep, rich voice is remarkably strong, having held up well over the years despite occasional health problems. Generally speaking, the only minor drawback is the lack of studio polish; this is an obvious occurrence for any live album, of course, but the larger-than-life, majestic sound created by the band and producer Mike Stone on Asia and Alpha is an important part of the group's appeal. On tour, Asia played material from the members' past bands to help flesh out the set. The track listings on the CD and DVD differ slightly. The CD includes a thunderous cover — complete with drum solo — of "Fanfare for the Common Man" as a nod to Palmer's days in Emerson, Lake & Palmer, along with the bonus track "Midnight Sun," recorded July 6, 2007, in Detroit. The DVD replaces "Fanfare for the Common Man" with a performance of King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King" with special guest and original King Crimson member Ian McDonald on flute; it was filmed on July 28, 2009, at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia. (Although Wetton was once a member of King Crimson, he wasn't in the band in 1969 when the song was originally released on the groundbreaking album of the same name.) The DVD also includes an electronic press kit with narration from Wetton.


Formed: January, 1981 in England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

When they appeared in the early '80s, Asia seemed to be a holdover from the '70s, when supergroups and self-important progressive rockers reigned supreme. Featuring members of such seminal art rock bands as King Crimson (John Wetton), Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Carl Palmer), and Yes (Steve Howe), as well as Geoff Downes from the Buggles, Asia did feature stretches of indulgent instrumentals on their records. However, they also could be surprisingly poppy, and that is what brought them to the top of...
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Spirit of the Night - Live In Cambridge 2009, Asia
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