Gig preview: Asia at Holmfirth Picturedrome

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THERE is a very special gig lined up for Holmfirth’s Picturedrome in June, the rock supergroup Asia will be playing. And it’s no ordinary concert by the rock legends.

In one of only two shows in June, the band is showcasing tracks from their new album, Gravitas, with their new guitarist.

The band was formed in 1982 by John Wetton of King Crimson, Carl Palmer of ELP, and Yes members Geoff Downes and Steve Howe.

Their eponymously-titled debut album was the best-selling album of that year.

Line-up changes ensued over the years, but in 2007, the original quartet got back together to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut and have remained together since then. Until now.

Keyboard player Downes, who was once half of Buggles, explains the recent change.

“Steve (Howe) did not want to carry on as he just didn’t have the time with being in Yes and all his solo projects, and at the beginning of last year he decided to leave.”

Enter Sam Coulson.

“Yes, whereas Steve’s got a lot of different styles, Sam’s more of a blues-based guitarist and he has a different sound.”

The album was written and produced by Geoff and singer/bassist John Wetton.

“We had quite a few ideas for the album and just needed a window in which to record it, but we thought we’d go for a different approach this time.”

In what way?

“The beauty of what we’ve done in the past is that we’ve approached each album as a new chapter in our story, and especially now with a new guitarist we can.”

Downes says it isn’t too different from what we’ve come to know and love.

“All the hallmarks of Asia are still apparent. In effect, we’re exploring different musical landscapes while embracing our familiar past.”

But why pick Holmfirth as one of the shows to showcase the new album?

“Well, we’ve had to cancel a couple of gigs there in the past and we are repaying the fans for their faith in us.”

“Plus,” he smiles, “it’s a great venue.”

The June dates pave the way for a more extensive tour later in the year.

“We’re just testing the water, as it were,” says Downes.

“We may only do three or four numbers off the new album as it would be quite tough to perform a great chunk of it, and I don’t think it would be fully appreciated.”

“We have a great musical history in the band an we’ve put together what I think is quite a good mix of the old and new.”

June 12, Holmfirth Picturedrome, £22.50,

Scott Caizley.

Scott Caizley: From Leeds couuncil estate to classical pianist