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ASIA/Barclay James Harvest/Dare
Astoria, London 20 March 2005

Not a bad three band line-up this, although due to Dare's early start at 7pm I missed half of their set. Still caught the excellent ‘Silent Thunder' and ‘Into The Fire' that came from the band's ‘must have' debut album. Only vocalist Darren Wharton remains from the ‘Abandon' days and his voice is as good as ever, backed-up by a tight-knit band. Great, what I saw of them, and hopefully then will return soon and get a later, longer set they deserve.

Now Barclay James Harvest are one band I just can't get into at all despite many attempts down the years. They have certainly pulled a few fans in tonight and bizarrely, like when Uriah Heep supported Asia acoustically a few years back, many of their fans left at 9pm after the BJH set. Why do people do this? Surely you've paid your money and it can't hurt to at least hear a few songs from the headlining band? Anyway, bass player/vocalist Les Holroyd is the only original member in this line-up and although they are superb musicians the music just does nothing for me I am afraid. They doubtless have their many fans but they are not for me.

Asia took to the stage with a bang playing a storming version of ‘Wildest Dreams' closely followed by ‘Here Comes That Feeling' from the band's debut album. In fact tonight's set featured a lot of John Wetton-era Asia tunes.

Good mix of the new album, ‘Silent Nation' on display as well including the title track and single ‘Long Way From Home'. Geoff Downes did his Buggles solo piece ‘Video Killed The Radio Star' and drummer Chris Slade got a drum solo (he is a big hitter and not like Carl Palmer, Asia's original drummer).

An acoustic set covered all eras featuring ‘Open Your Eyes', ‘Voice of America' (this worked particularly well in acoustic mode), ‘The Longest Night' and ‘Who Will Stop the Rain?' - a real showstopper tune.

‘Sole Survivor' went down a treat as did the closing encore of ‘Heat Of The Moment' - those opening power chords are spine tingling! The whole band played well and in guitarist Guthrie Govan they really do have a find. As John Payne said the band feels like a band as this line-up has been intact for over seven years now - a record for Asia line-ups!

Great night of timeless, classic rock music and the good news is that Asia will be back early next year in the UK - can't wait.

Review: Jason Ritchie

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