Monday, February 27, 2017

ASIA "Symfonia: Live in Bulgaria 2013"

Live in Bulgaria 2013
Frontiers Music (2.24.17)

The latest offering from
classic rock combo ASIA
has finally arrived. How
does it stack up against
the band's 30+ previous
live recordings? Let's see.

What separates ASIA from its pack of pretentious prog contemporaries is they actually have songs — you know, tunes that make ya snap your fingers, tap your toes, bop your head, and maybe even steal a little sugar from your best gal as you both sing along outside the ol' Tastee-Freez. And in that sense, this 2-CD / DVD package will likely be a tremendous treat for enthusiasts, old and new.

Recorded back on September 21, 2013 during the Sounds of the Ages festival at the II Century Roman Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Symfonia boasts (most) of the band's original line-up — late frontman / bassist John Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer and keyboardist Geoff Downes, along with more recent recruit, guitarist Sam Coulson.

Culled from five of the band's 13 studio albums, this engaging 14-song set oozes such U.S. chart-busters as "Heat of the Moment," "Only Time Will Tell," "Don't Cry" and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes." However, it's deeper cuts, including "An Extraordinary Life," "Days Like These" and "Wildest Dreams" that often deliver the most satisfying payoff.

Having been archived originally for European TV, the recording quality is absolutely superb, and the fistful of tracks accompanied by the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra make for particularly shiny highlights.

-Christopher Long
(February 2017)

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