Jeff Kollman with John Payne's Asia gig review

  • John Payne replaced John Wetton in Asia in 1992 and has made several albums with the band, before Geoff Downes left in 2006 to reform the original Asia band. Because Payne owned a part of the name, an agreement was reached that allowed Payne to continue touring under the Asia banner with a new lineup of star players.

    I had missed the posting of JPA's new song on here Seasons will Change, but found it elsewhere. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the song and that not only was GH alumni Jeff Kollman on guitar, but also my friend Moni Scaria, who I have worked with in a cover band here in LA. I guess I missed it, because I had no idea both were in the band. The band also consists of other all star LA musicians including Jay Schellen on drums and another GH family tree member Erik Norlander on keyboards, (from Rome is Burning fame). Eric is a fantastic Sherinian/Wakeman style 5 keyboards on stage at a time guy who would right in with a band like BCC.

    I had seen John Payne with Asia in 2001 when they opened up for Voices at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. I had picked up Aria in 1995 and played it alot, but strangely it didn't quite love it. While cleaning up my spare room this week for a guest I found Aria and played it on the way to the gig last night...Fantastic album, now wondering what was wrong with me and why I haven't stuck it on permanent rotation. I am going to get some other JP Asia albums too.

    I found out about JPA's gig at Morongo and decided I want to go a couple of weeks ago. I told the singer of my band about it (who works with Moni) and he decided to go to. I am usually not a fan at all of these splinter groups that feature replacement members or one original member, but I felt that this time this lineup was different and deserving attention. We get to Morongo, and security asks us if we would like free VIP passes to the show and meet and greet photo opportunity. It made me start laughing with disbelief. We get to the line before being ushered backstage, and there is a bass player I know who I have filled in with a band for years, and his bandleader is coming to stay with me for a couple of months. Strange small world. Got to take a cool picture with the band and say hi to everyone and got my Aria album signed. The venue and Asia staff really treated us like gold, and the assistant even sought me out to take my Aria cover backstage to get signed (I didn't bother during the photo). I've never been treated this well at any show!

    Meanwhile, my singer grabbed us a front row seat. The band hit the stage for a nearly two hour show that featured a good mix of Payne era Asia and classic Asia hits and the new song's stage debut Seasons Will Change. The mix was great, Payne is a fantastic singer with a deep rich voice and great bass playing, he also had a very pleasant and funny stage banter in between every song. Moni and Kollman played several fantastic dueling harmony guitar leads on the newer and older material, and Jay Schellen is a great drummer and personality and backing vocalist. Erik and Jay did a drum/keys instrumental and Erik deftly handled all of Geoff Downes parts. Jeff also did his own solo and he was as fantastic as always. This band is fantastic and really is able to stand on it's own as a unique and talented band. I'm glad I went and I will check them out again. Can't wait for the new album. This whole thing has taken me by pleasant and overwhelming surprise. What a band! (Here's a couple of photos, more tonight.)

    Setlist:
    Long Way Home
    Time Tell
    Who'll Stop Rain (not the CCR song)
    Seasons Will Change
    Silent Nation
    Days Like These
    Desire
    Go
    Key / Drum solo
    Time again
    Don't Cry
    Military Man
    Heat Of The Moment
    Soul Survivor

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