Frontiers [Release date 24.02.17]
Normally you’d think “not another live Asia album” as there have been a fair few to date, however this one is tinged with sadness with the sad passing of John Wetton shortly before the release of this album. The show was recorded on the band’s ‘XXX’ tour back in 2013 and it features the Plovdiv Opera Orchestra for the second half of the show. The line up includes then new guitarist Sam Coulson, joining John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes.
An interesting set list mixing the band’s classics ‘Sole Suvivor’ and ‘Time Again’, with newer songs such as ‘Face On The Bridge’ and ‘An Extraordinary Life’, plus ‘Days Like These’ is a welcome treat.
Adding the orchestra on classics like ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Don’t Cry’ gives them a bigger sound and a real shame the band never recorded a selection of their songs with an orchestra in a studio. Sam Coulson adds his own little additions to some of the guitar parts and based on the DVD interview with him, he loves playing in and being part of the band.
The DVD mirrors the CD track list, however the camera shots and angles aren’t great at times. The band do seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, as do the audience. In the interview you can see the band’s British humour in full flight and they seem very relaxed together pre-show when the interview was conducted.
With the death of John Wetton this marks the end of Asia, although the band were recording a new album as of last May and this may yet see the light of day. John Wetton will be missed and he led, to quote one of his band’s songs, an extraordinary life. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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