There is a real divide and some hostility among ASIA fans about John Payne's decade long run as the bassist/vocalist of the band. Around 1990, John Wetton left the band to begin a solo career, Carl Palmer went back to ELP and Steve Howe returned to YES leaving Geoffrey Downes to either fold the band or continue. Choosing to keep ASIA going, he enlisted John Payne and in 1992 ASIA released the amazing AQUA album. Payne and Downes (with a succession of musicians) would release 6 albums of new material before the original band would reform in 2007. As part of a legal settlement, Payne would continue as ASIA featuring John Payne and be able to tour and record. Last Friday night I finally got to see and hear ASIA featuring John Payne live and well.... I was so impressed!
Playing at the Atrium Bar and Lounge at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut, ASIA featuring John Payne played an incredible 14 song set mixing classic ASIA with some of the best songs from his run. Obviously the casual ASIA fan wants to hear Heat Of The Moment, Go, Don't Cry and Only Time Will Tell, and we got those. But, many of us die hard followers were hoping to hear Payne classics like Military Man, Long Way From Home, Who Will Stop The Rain and Silent Nation and the band didn't disappoint. A solid set list that really gave everyone what they wanted.
Joining Payne was longtime guitarist Moni Scaria who was so smooth and fluid with his playing, he made it look so effortlessly. The two new guys, (Springfield, MA's own) keyboardist Jamie Hosmer and drummer Johnny Fedevich both had some big shoes to fill and musically and pulled everything off with style and power. As for the man himself, Payne displayed his skills around the bass and vocally put on display his never aging powerful voice.
As I document in my upcoming book, ASIA - TIME AND TIME AGAIN, if you only know the John Wetton led version of the band, than you are missing half the history of ASIA. Payne's run gave the band a bit of heaviness and progression and I am so thankful I not only got to see the band (and the sound check) but I got to spend some time with John and Moni which made the show even that much more special.
ASIA featuring John Payne is currently on tour with Lou Gramm.
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.