The decade of the '80's means so many different things to oh so many people, but to me the '80's, more specifically 1982 was the year I entered high school. This portion of the '80's was intertwined with school, girls, and music and all of the trappings that went with it. The music of the '80's had a profound effect on the generation, it was an era that helped shape my musical palate, and bands like Asia were building blocks to that palate.
When I learned of the band Asia featuring John Payne was going to perform at the Mississippi Moon Bar on September 3rd, 2011, I jumped on the chance. Asia was a big part of my music "library" in the '80's and that by itself was reason to attend.
Asia released their first album (the self-titled Asia) in 1982, and featured the songs "Only Time Will Tell", "Sole Survivor", and "Heat Of The Moment" (among others), not to mention really cool cover art (the '80's was the best for cool cover art). Those three songs are still firmly entrenched in my brain, they were killer songs, and I anxiously awaited hearing them performed live.
Asia featuring John Payne did not disappoint, they played a plethora of songs from their albums, and wove them into a set list that not only contained songs, but witty banter from Payne. I really do like watching how bands interact with their fans, and Payne worked the crowd like a master.
The performance that was put on showcased the bands greatest hits while fitting in songs that weren't necessarily known by some of the crowd (they did more that just one album you know, right). Of those songs, I had to break into the "massive vaults of music" (sure I do, I wish but not) that I own and listen to my Asia all over again. Thanks to the beauty of YouTube, the search is over and I was able to listen (or watch), all of the songs that they played and those they didn't.
John Payne became the frontman for the supergroup Asia in 1992, and based on the show I saw on the 3rd, I would bet that Payne is as energetic as he was then. Payne intermingled his brand of wit, experience and a few facts about the songs in which they were playing. Payne himself, is reason enough to see Asia perform. It was apparent that Payne is enjoys his fans as much as they do he and the other members of the band.
While many would argue that the frontman is the keystone of the band (just ask any frontman. KIDDING), while many would argue that guitar players are that enigmatic factor that makes the band. Bruce Bouillet, the lead guitarist of the band (formerly of Racer X who I absolutely love) brings energy and blistering, precise guitar and during the show he showed his musical chops.
Jay Schellen (drums) and Erik Norlander (keyboards) provided precise and playful mastery of their respective instruments, and then they did something no one really sees often: a keyboard / drum solo. I found the combined solos (or is that a duet) really interesting, and very entertaining. There was one HUGE positive on the solo, it didn't happen two songs into the set (thank you gentlemen for doing so).
Its apparent that Asia featuring John Payne is still producing great music (Military Man for example), still playing their music at an exceptionally high level, and they are still performing as if their lives depend on it. Now for the good and bad news about the band, the bad news is that their current tour ended with the show on the 3rd of September and now for the good news, this band has not packed it in, they will be on tour once again, soon hopefully!
The simplest approach for you, the reader is to watch their website for new tour dates, then sign up for their email newsletter. Why you ask (stay with me here people), why well its simple so you know when they are on tour so YOU can see then perform.