Asia - Live in Kansas City

Starlight Theater
Kansas City, Missouri
July 22, 2017

Words and Photos by Mark Schierholz

Set List:
Sole Survivor | Time Again | Don’t Cry | Drum Solo | Keyboard Solo | The Smile Has Left Your Eyes | Video Killed the Radio Star | Only Time Will Tell | Heat of the Moment.

The weather on July 22nd was very predictable for an outdoor concert in the Heartland. It was sweltering!  Overhead, however, it was clear that a massive thunderstorm was brewing in the Kansas City sky.  The question the near capacity crowd at the iconic Starlight Theatre asked was not if it would pour…but when!

While waiting for the god’s to unleash their fury, the show went on.  First up was Asia, whose 1982 self-titled debut is considered a Prog/Pop classic.  The band is on tour in 2017 with only two original members in tow...drummer Carl Palmer and keyboardist Geoff Downes.  Original guitarist Steve Howe has been replaced by youngster Sam Coulson. The late, great John Wetton’s shoes are being filled by Downes’ bandmate in Yes, Billy Sherwood.

With the recent passing of Asia co-founder, John Wetton many in the crowd were curious how well Sherwood could perform the vocals and bass parts.  After all, Wetton’s voice, look and sound are very much a part of this bands’ DNA.  They quickly learned that Sherwood was up for the task.  A good word used to describe Billy’s performance on this was night is ‘phenomenal.’  He was spot on and full of heartfelt emotion and utter respect for Wetton the entire set.

The other unanswered question for the Kansas City crowd was if young guitarist Sam Coulson could pull off all of legendary Steve Howe’s guitar parts.  This question was also met with an astounding ‘yes’!  Sam is an amazing musician, and has a very positive vibe that he unleashed on the fans in front of him. Sam has heart.  On this night he proved that belonged on the stage.

Keyboardist Geoff Downes, most known as one of the main songwriters for Asia, has also performed with the bands Yes and The Buggles.  The band performed The Buggles classic “Video Killed the Radio Star” during the set.  This was the first video to ever be played on MTV! 

Geoff played with pure bliss from his massive and unique keyboard setup.  It was fun just to watch the maestro tackle his own instrument!

Drummer Carl Palmer is one of the most respected rock drummers on planet Earth.  He is most known as the drummer for Emerson, Lake, & Palmer and Asia but he cut his teeth in the 1960s as a member of the group Atomic Rooster.  Carl is a phenomenal percussionist with a unique style that he has mastered.

The band opened up their set with two tracks from their classic 1982 album Asia.  The crowd was into the songs “Soul Survivor,” followed by “Time Again” from the opening notes.  After these songs were finished Palmer took to the front of the drum riser to welcome the crowd to the show.  Once done he returned to his throne and the band went into “Don’t Cry”, a song from the band’s 1983 album Alpha.

In addition to the hit songs some members of the band also performed solo pieces.  First up was Palmer’s drum solo.  The crowd was fully drawn into the musical atmosphere of the evening as Palmer unleashed a one of a kind drum solo with grace and precision. He filled the air with sounds one would expect from a world class, powerhouse drummer. Following the drum solo Geoff Downes put on a keyboard clinic on his massive collection of keyboards.

After the solos it was back to the Alpha album and the hit ballad “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.”  Asia ended the night by taking the crowd back to their 1982 debut album with the massive hits “Only Time Will Tell” and “Heat of the Moment.” These two songs, obviously, were the best received by the crowd.  They finished their set to thunderous applause…thunder from the skies, however, warned that Journey may not be so fortunate.  They weren’t.  After only three songs massive rains pounded the theater. The show was halted for safety reasons.

The weather was not the only storm unleashed in Kansas City on this night.  The other storm was a band called Asia!  These four musicians brought something magical on this night and performed as true professionals.

Despite the headliner’s rainout, this writer was thrilled with Asia’s performance and highly recommends everyone to check out this version of the band.