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Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo(2007)
Filmed live in Tokyo, this energetic concert features the four original members of 1980s supergroup Asia on their 2007 reunion world tour celebrating their 25th anniversary. Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton play some of their biggest hits, including "Only Time Will Tell," "Heat of the Moment," "Sole Survivor," "The Heat Goes On," "One Step Closer" and more. A 40-minute interview with the band members is included.
For more about Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo and the Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo Blu-ray release, see Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo Blu-ray Review published by Sir Terrence on February 28, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo Blu-ray Review
Asia is a tour de force in progressive rock music
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, February 28, 2009
Have you ever had the experience of attending a concert and leaving the venue so blown away that you just couldn't believe what you had experienced? That's how I felt after viewing Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo. The quality of the performance, the skill of the individual musicians and the artistic and creative complexity of the music is staggering and completely blindsided me. This four-piece band achieves the musical density of a twelve- piece; the group uses sound as a painter uses a brush. It is not just notes; it is color, texture and density. You can easily tell these men are accomplished and classically trained musicians and not a garage band. There is an air of compositional sophistication to every song they play that is recognizable to other trained musicians. This is a tight and well rehearsed band with no apparent weaknesses. The band members' complex and well- honed technique leaves the viewer breathless. For example, I was impressed with how bassist John Wetton patterns his playing style after the technique used to play organ bass pedals; rendering his style in a smooth and fluid manner. Being a keyboard player myself, I couldn't take my eyes or ears off of keyboardist Geoff Downes' skillful playing; his use of timbral color to accentuate the music demonstrated his tremendous skill and discipline as a player. This group has some serious chops.
When I first sat down to listen to Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo, I was under the impression that I hadn't ever heard the band's music before. As the concert progressed, however, It became more and more clear that I had, in fact, heard quite a few of their compositions over the years. Where, exactly, I had heard them before remained elusive, until I remembered taking place in a series of color guard routines in the early 80s. I dug out an old mix tape from those shows and it finally occurred to me that every other color guard was using Asia's music for their floor shows. This all took place in 1982, when "Asia" was one of the hottest albums of the year. Now that I've become more familiar with their music, it makes perfect sense to me why Asia was such a popular choice for these performers. When I choreograph my next color guard performance, I have a feeling that I'll be looking to Asia for inspiration.
Given the band's prolific and skilled return to making music, after surviving a number of breakups over the years, I sincerely hope that the band continues to make music together in the future. Asia has inspired me to new avenues of creativity and the musical choices I make in my own endeavors will owe a great deal to the influence that this live recording has brought.
The tracklisting consists of:
Time Again / Wildest Dreams / One Step Closer / Roundabout / Without You / Cutting It Fine / Intersection Blues (Steve Howe Solo) / Fanfare For The Common Man / The Smile Has Left Your Eyes /Don't Cry / In The Court Of The Crimson King / Here Comes The Feeling / Video Killed The Radio Star / The Heat Goes On-Drum Solo / Only Time Will Tell / Sole Survivor / Ride Easy / Heat Of The Moment.
As the show begins, Asia is greeted by thunderous applause from the excited crowd. I'm sure the audience knew what they were in store for; these men put on the most jaw dropping entertainment experience I have seen and heard in decades. Two words come to mind when thinking back on this show: Balanced excellence. No musician overtook the other, they were one coherent body performing in stoic unity. There was no huge light show to distract from their performance; the band's music stood on its own. The visual presentation accompanying this performance is simple, but effective. The most notable performances on the disc included "Intersection," "Fanfare For The Common Man" and "In The Court Of The Crimson King." All three left me in awe with their displays of musicianship and technical proficiency. Regardless, every song in this set is top notch and worth listening to time and time again.
Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo Blu-ray, Video Quality
Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo powers on to the Blu-ray format in a stunning 1080i/MPEG-4 AVC encode, framed at a 1:78:1 aspect ratio. Did I say stunning? If that's not good enough, how about perfect! Images are clean as a whistle, with no digital artifacts, compression, or pesky compression issues. Black levels are deep and inky black, shadow detail is excellent; I was able to see distinct shapes in the crowd amidst the complete darkness of the concert hall. Contrast is excellent, with very white whites that were never overblown. Every shade in the grayscale shines through boldly and accurately. Colors are very well saturated, but the simplicity of the lighting design does not allow for a tremendous amount of vivid color. Skin tones look natural and detail is first rate; skin details and clothing are exceptionally rendered. This production deserves the highest possible score for picture quality. Eagle Rock Entertainment has hit a home run with this release; congratulations are in order!
Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As enthusiastic as I am about the video, I am less so about the audio. Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo offers three audio tracks to choose from. A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track at a 24/48 kHz, a 5.1 Dolby Digital track encoded at 640kbps and a LPCM stereo track at 24bit resolution. I found some serious balance and equalization issues in the 5.1 mixes that seemed to be caused by the addition of surround channels. The keyboards were far too loud and forward in the mix, which spilled over into the surrounds. This covered up the drums, guitar, and made the bass sound muddy and undefined. Worse, a healthy dose of equalization applied to the mid bass and lower midrange caused the complete sonic presentation to lose its definition. The assignment of instruments within the acoustic space seemed constricted to the space between my speakers, with no information at the edges of the mix. There was no air between them, which turned the entire spatial picture into mush. With the frontal sound stage wrapping into the surrounds, everything turned into a gigantic auditory mess. Vocals suffered intelligibility issues every time the keyboards kicked in.
I listened to all three of the tracks, and, surprisingly, I preferred the stereo LPCM track. Almost all the issues I outlined above disappeared completely with this track. Even the keyboard balance issues were reduced to a point where much of the sonic detail that was previously hidden suddenly revealed itself. To put it frankly, mixing and equalization issues ruined this otherwise fine performance. Fortunately, the LPCM track helps to remedy these issues.
Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only extra content on this disc is an interview with each band member. I watched this before the actual concert and found it to be a valuable source of information about the band that shouldn't be missed.
Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As soon as I finished viewing Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo, I went directly to Asia's web site to see when they are scheduled to tour the United States. I was bummed when I discovered they have no shows in America scheduled for 2009. This is not a group I want to sit and listen to on a CD, rather, I want to experience this amazing band in that fashion that so impressed me on this Blu-ray release. While each musician in the band brings a huge amount of skill and showmanship to table, when playing together, the synergy among them raises the group's musicianship to unprecedented levels.
It seems every time I review a music video, my wallet catches fire at the hands of iTunes. This time was no different. I highly recommend this disc, but I also highly recommend you go see this band live. You will not be sorry for the experience.
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Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Eagle Rock Brings More Concerts to Blu-ray - February 25, 2009
Eagle Rock Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'Asia: Fantasia Live In Tokyo', 'Paul Rodgers - Live in Glasgow', and 'Jeff Beck Performing This Week... Live at Ronnie Scott's' to Blu-ray on March 31st. Technical specs have yet to be announced ...
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