Asia: Spirit Of The Night – Live In Cambridge 09

Messrs Wetton, Downes, Howe and Palmer enjoy several hot moments.

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Double CD of the original line-up headlining the Cambridge Rock Festival on August 9, 2009, the penultimate gig on their Phoenix tour.

With the band only two studio albums into their second coming it seems a bit soon after 2007’s Fantasia – Live In Japan, but at 78 minutes it’s a leaner, meaner version of that previous set. There are no Yes, King Crimson or Buggles covers, but an overblown version of ELP’s Fanfare For The Common Man does survive the cut. (Note: this album’s DVD edition excludes this and Midnight Sun but adds In The Court Of The Crimson King featuring Crimson’s Ian McDonald.)

Much better than Fanfare are the two numbers from Phoenix. The first, An Extraordinary Life, is introduced by John Wetton with some irony given his heart surgery of two years earlier and boasts a suitably joyous solo from Steve Howe. The second, Never Again, an above-average stadium anthem.

No Wildest Dreams or The Smile Has Left Your Eyes among the remaining 10 songs – and not all of those work as well in the live arena as the 80s studio originals – but with a 50:50 split from the first two albums there’s no faulting a band who know what you like.

Neil Jeffries

Freelance contributor to Classic Rock and several of its offshoots since 2006. In the 1980s he began a 15-year spell working for Kerrang! intially as a cub reviewer and later as Geoff Barton’s deputy and then pouring precious metal into test tubes as editor of its Special Projects division. Has spent quality time with Robert Plant, Keith Richards, Ritchie Blackmore, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore – and also spent time in a maximum security prison alongside Love/Hate. Loves Rush, Aerosmith and beer. Will work for food.