Uncle G’s FUN Concert Reviews
By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
The ASIAN ARMADA Newsletter
Date: July 12 , 2001 (Issue #338)
Subject: Asia in Houston.
Hey Asia Fans, Here’s my report from PointFest. HeatFest is more like it. The first time scheduled to play, we had the flooding here in Houston. Talking to a guy the day before who was in the Congo during that, he told me he was watching in horror the reports on television. A day Houston will never forget. And with yesterday’s heat attack, a day all in attendance and I’m sure the guys in Asia will never forget either.
I got there early so I could get up front. And I did. Front row center. Hours later I’ll find myself right in front of John. Until then, I had to survive through the heat, and occupy my boredom through the four bands that were gonna play before Asia. I wasn’t sure if I would make it. In all respects, the bands were all good. It was the sun. Simply overwhelming. I spent a small fortune just in water and ices. A couple next to me left after the first band. The lady was getting sick. She just about passed out. I should have invested a few bucks in sunscreen. My back is solid red. Sunburn you would not believe. To make it a little more interesting, during Berlin, a fight broke out.Right next to me. After the couple left I just mentioned, I became friends with the small group that unfortunately ended up being involved. And they were really nice to me too. They took it upon themselves to make sure I was okay with the heat. And the fight happened so fast. Before I knew it, the cops were there. Handcuffs and maze. Not a pretty sight. All because a few people cut in front of them and blocked their view of the stage. My main thought was that I could not get arrested because I didn’t see Asia yet. I was now on a mission that I was determined to complete. I just moved over.
The group that befriended me were arrested and taken away, never to be seen again. The members in Berlin watched what was going on while playing, and didn’t miss a beat during the whole commotion. I’m sure this will be a gig they won’t forget about soon.
Finally, the reason why I was there. It was Asia’s turn. I didn’t write a set list. I did take some pictures. The guys were fabulous! With just the Roger Dean drawing of their new album cover behind them, they gave an impression that was 100% professional. Even before they took the stage, once everything was set up, the keyboards, the drums with the cool Asia logo gave an appearance that the crowd was about to see a top-notch band.
Turn out according to the radio station who sponsored the show was good. Kids too old people were in attendance. And I could see the Asia fans in their either new or older tee-shirts. Another couple I ran into, drove three hours just to see them. People were spread throughout the park. In the pit where the stage was, and on top of the hill. There were even people on the next property over enjoying what was for them a free show.
Needless to say, when the band played the classics, the place went nuts. I was so impressed with the way John, Guthrie, and Chris played those songs. The diehard “classic” fans can say all they want, but these guys played these songs with style and flare, making it obvious the respect they had for the original music. And they looked like they were having so much fun playing them too. Smiles were plentiful from the band. Funny thing, because the crowd was so diverse, several in attendance didn’t know the difference as to the fact that all these four played on the originals or not. The kids, the teenagers, the older people, the fans of the other bands who played before, no one really cared. By looking at their actions, they enjoyed it, and that’s all that matters.
The new material went over well. It was a pleasant surprise for this “Day 1” fan to look around and see how much the crowd really seemed to be liking the new stuff.
One of my favorite moments of the show was watching the band perform the title track from their last CD Arena. Again, a pleasant surprise as to how much the crowd got into that. A favorite song of mine from the Payne era, I watched the teenagers dance and really getting into that, with the odds being good that this was the first time they were hearing the song. A first time for everyone involves an “unreleased song”, an instrumental, that was played whose credit went to Guthrie. Hopefully, this crowd-pleaser will appear on the next Asia CD.
Once the band walked off the stage, according to the couple who drove three hours to see the band play, it was well worth it. From hearing Geoff play ‘Video Star’ to the newest material, the unreleased Guthrie rocker, the band covered themselves well.
Afterward, the whole band came out for a meet and greet. Gracious, funny, humble, accommodating, these words come to mind. Obviously, I was already a fan before I got there, but after being around the band in a more personal setting, I walked away with a newfound admiration/respect for these guys. There was a nice size crowd there, so not wanting to take advantage, I got a couple things signed. I had Geoff sign The Buggles, Age Of Plastic CD, as well as his solo release The Light Program. Chris signed ‘The Firm’s’ first release and an AC/DC Live that I had on cassette. And of course, the pullout ripped.
But who better to damage it, but Chris. “Ripped in half by Chris Slade”, too cool. Guthrie signed my Aura CD, putting “Houston 2001” under his name. And John was last. What a great sense of humor this guy has. Anyway, I walked up to him after he had walked aside talking to a couple people. I mentioned the AOL chat he just did, and he proceeded to talk about that, sounding happy about the experience. He signed Aura for me and Arena. What ended up the icing on the cake, I got my picture taken with the group before I left.
Left to Right: Guthrie Govan_Chris Slade_Gary “Uncle G” Brown_John Payne_Geoff Downes
I intended for this to be a short report. I guess I had a few things to say, and I’m glad I sat here and typed it out. Of course, I want Asia to come back to Houston. Hopefully with this lineup. And perhaps, think seriously about being booked at an indoor venue.
Please Note: One might notice different dates. All compliments of Tropical Storm Allison (June of 2001). The park that this event was to take place in, filled with an enormous amount of water. There WAS a rain date. It happens. My first real rock concert was seeing Yes back when they touring, Relayer (1974). Summer of ’75 in New Jersey. We drove to the location only to be told to go back home; rained out. Another outdoor show; Roosevelt Stadium (Jersey City, NJ). So I learned right away in the rock n’ roll business that shit happens. My experiences … always happy endings.