Way over 100 shows in 2012- a personal record!
Like Great White and LA Guns, there are currently two versions of Asia. Casual fans get confused about situations like these.
I was a huge Asia fan in the early 80s. They were my favorite band in 6th grade. It took me over 25 years to get to see them in concert. I saw them with all 4 original members in 2008/2009, but honestly, I was a little underwhelmed by their performance.
A few months later, I saw this “other” version of Asia in the same venue and they absolutely kicked ass. It was a more lively performance and everyone in the band absolutely shredded…. and then some. This was the first time I got to see Guthrie Govan on the guitar and it was an incredible experience. Erik Norlander played some phenomenal keyboard parts and I was happy to see Jay Schellen playing awesome as usual (I saw him quite a few times with Hurricane at the Country Club in Reseda back in the 80s and 90s- God, I miss that place.) I love it when concerts far exceed your expectations and this one did just that. I’ve seen the original Asia play again since then and that performance still didn’t compare to this show, either. (And my favorite song from either/both bands is “Who Will Stop The Rain?” and I’d drive miles just to hear that song alone.)
Later in 2009, Asia Featuring John Payne played a show here at Warner Park. After a quick check, I was bummed to see that Guthrie Govan wasn’t in the band anymore. Mitch Perry, who I’ve seen play live in quite a few different bands did a very fine job replacing him, was great , but Guthrie is probably one of the best guitarists that ever walked the earth- it’s hard to compare practically anyone to him.
When the band was announced as a late replacement for the Valley Cultural Center’s concert series, I cleared my schedule to come out for the show. I planned my entire weekend around it.
I left EARLY to get to this show. I wanted to get a prime parking spot at the park (I learned this is important from the last time) for convenience and so I could get to my next destination from here.
My plan was to park, set up a blanket, cooler and chair close the the stage (stake my spot!) and then walk over to PF Changs for lunch before the show. I’ve been craving PF Changs for a long time. My “makeshift” set-up (I grabbed the first 5 things I saw in my garage on my way out to claim my spot):
I get there and the band is in the initial stages of sound checking. And I see a PF Changs vendor booth there that is selling food. How perfect. Serendipity.
I was excited thinking that Bruce Bouillet was the current guitarist. Racer X was my favorite band throughout high school and I used to see him do his amazing guitar work with Paul Gilbert, Scott Travis, John/Juan Alderete and Jeff Martin on a regular basis at the Country Club in Reseda- the place I have the fondest memories of growing up with good, heavy music.
Anyhow, Bruce ended up not being the guitarist that played today (I guess he left in the spring to concentrate on his solo work), but I could swear I saw him there- or at least someone that looked a lot like him. And to my surprise, there were actually two guitarists playing onstage- Jeff Kollman (who kind of resembled him from far away) and someone I’d never heard of before- Moni Scaria – I think John said he was from Milwaukee- he is also an excellent player as well. From the sound check, I could see they were a guitar team to be reckoned with.
They did a very long sound check (fine with me- I wasn’t going anywhere for hours!) and I really enjoyed watching them get everything tuned in. I got to hear a keyboard solo, a drum solo, some great harmony guitar and a few of my favorite tunes while the park was practically empty. That was awesome. I was a happy guy. The harmony guitar parts fit the music quite well. It is a good call for the band to have 2 guitarists, for sure.
How could you not be excited after hearing great playing like this? (Who Will Stop The Rain?”, “Time Again” and the keyboard/ drum instrumental practice including part of “Neurosaur”- thanks to Luis for knowing the title of the instrumental ):
I hung out for a while, enjoyed some PF Changs and I ended up having a few Jamba Juices as well. It was an absolute perfect afternoon in the sun.
The park gradually filled up and the band started about 6:00. They tore through a 45 minute set of hits, both old and new and Jay Schellen and Erik Norlander did a great instrumental. Wow! Some insane talent here!! All these guys jam and are such a great band- the crowd really seemed to love them. Even the dogs in the park behaved for Asia – no barking or fighting!
“Only Time Will Tell” had such a wicked keyboard part and just flat-out jammed –and the harmony guitars really did the song justice.
“Who Will Stop The Rain” is wonderful tune- I love this song and they rocked it – again! I felt so lucky to see this tune performed twice today!
“Days Like These” from the Greatest Hits Album is a spectacular song. They rocked it.
An incredible 10 minute instrumental with Jay and Erik- these guys rock!!
There was then an intermission that allowed me to collect my trash and pitch it and haul some stuff back to the car. I noticed that 3 of the 4 current members of Hurricane were hanging out by the sound board- Robert Sarzo, Mike Hansen and Andrew Freeman. Glen Sobel was also hanging out with them.
The second set was pretty outstanding. The sun started to set and it was a great way to finish my day in the park.
Update- I should have mentioned the “the small acoustic set of deep cuts they performed near the beginning of the second set” (thank you, Luis, for also pointing out these three songs):
-Ready To Go Home
-Don’t Cut The Wire (Brother)
“Time Again” really rocked!! Spectacular!
They then played an excellent version of “Go”- John mentioned how Mandy Moore from Krokus was the guitarist on the original recording and it was one of the heavier Asia songs. I totally had forgotten about that. It’s one of my favorite Asia tunes.
“Don’t Cry” was fantastic.
Some guy waved both an American and US Marine Corps flag as he ran through the park one time each set- the highlight of him doing this was during “Military Man” towards the end of the show. He got lots of cheers.
The encore was “Heat of the Moment”- it sounded great.
I got a jump on the crowd for the last song. The coolest part of the day was at the end when a guy on a huge unicycle cruises by at 1:10 during “Sole Survivor”- that was just perfect as John sang the verse.
By the time they said goodnight and I got everything back to my car, I realized I was going to be too late to go to Vitello’s to see Quattro play. I was really looking forward to it- I had a nice change of clothes in the car and was ready to pull off the double-header- no such luck….
Here’s the stream of their show (starts around the 24 minute mark)- incredibly talented band- CHECK THEM OUT:
The band was staying after the show for a meet and greet- I thought that was cool they didn’t require fans to buy anything in order to get to meet them. Very cool. Thanks to Erik Norlander, Jay Schellen, Jeff Kollman, John Payne and Moni Scaria for providing a spectacular Sunday of music.