The Purple Pinup Guru Platform

When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

By Cary Coatney

One of my favorite all time closet bands (the kind of band you don't dare admit to liking past the age of forty due to the retaliation of mullet haircuts and parachute pants jokes) embarked on a two week tour of Border's Books and Music stores all across the US that was both initimate and unique. I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of the shows due to that they were within a reasonable travel distance from my place of residence. Earlier this year, Yes did a similiar type of a event at a Tower Records that was within a two block walking distance from my house, but there were some unforeseen circumstances that made that event a little bit too much of a media blitzkrieg with all the waiting on line to get a wristband, the mandatory cash or credit plunk down for a new CD and DVD, and wind up with nothing but perhaps a fifteen second chat with each member- but alas, with John Payne and Geoff Downes of Asia, you could have a sit down and chat about the weather, Quiznos oven baked sandwiches, or who they think is going to win the November US Presidental election until they got bored with you and sent you away.

The first show in Westwood or the West Los Angeles area which took place on a Friday night, was surprisingly sparsely attended by as few as twenty-five fans (but they had a nice little stage to perform on) with a few lookee-loos here and there peeking over the coffee bar to ascertain who was responsible for all the racket as opposed to the smaller and more crowded coffee bar area that followed on the next night in my hometown of Sherman Oaks, Ca ( approximately more than sixty heads were counted). If I owned some wheels, I would probably would have followed them up the coast to Santa Barbera for the next afternoon show.

From what Geoff Downes sermoned to the audience at some point during the performance, he stated that the purpose of this chummy little cozy get-together was not only to promote or make aware of the newly released Silent Nation album (on that fabulous Insideout Music label), but to sort of demonstrate or ruminate to attendees of what goes in a songwriting process. If one can follow along with the bare bone essentials of how all the ingredients fall in place into what goes into a song, the better in the appreciation of listening to it- at least that's what I tried to rationalize from what Geoff was trying to say after they finished playing Wildest Dreams on nothing but a Korg Triton keyboard and a Spanish guitar before launching into the current single, What About Love off the new album.

John Payne revealed a few secrets of what inspired him to write the new material. The lyrics to the new single, Long Way From Home reflected on John's feelings on traveling abroad to record the new album from all the way from Wales to Burbank, California and the origin behind the title track from the new album dealt with a Howard Stern rant on the eroding of America's civil liberties by evidence of the FCC crackdown of radio shock jocks across the nation that John just happened to be tuned into whilst between tour stops during the last time they were toured America (Janet Jackson's much talked about wardrobe malfunction during last year's Super Bowl halftime didn't help matters either).

The little bits of monologue in between numbers wasn't all that adroitly somber. Both Downes and Payne had some lighthearted moments as if they were channeling the spirits of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (or was it the Smother Brothers?) , especially when it came to telling amusing jokes & stories about Steve Howe since John Payne was fortunate enough to tour with Steve when he first joined the band for the Aqua album. I never did quite get the punchline to the 'how many Steve Howes does it take to screw in a guitar string? - are you sure you even want to be in the same room with them? Was John Wetton actually thinking of Steve Howe when he wrote the line in Wildest Dreams, 'they recommended enthunasia for non-conformers everywhere?' However, John Payne did manage to break a string right towards the end of 'Only Time Will Tell' and had to play the rest of the song like air on a G string - but he did leave the audience pondering an incredible twenty year mystery which has never been solved to this very day- did the hair band, Europe actually swipe Geoff Downes' opening synth motif for 'Only Time Will Tell' for their hit single, "the Final Countdown'? Even Jon Anderson wasn't immune, they made a playful jab on maestro Anderson's Alzheimer antics based on a story they heard from their collaborator, Billy Sherwood on a couple of tracks of the new album about how Jon would keep getting his name confused with Bobby Sherman - and that was the dedication to Ghost in the Mirror, one of my favorites of the new songs.

For those crowdpleaser awaiting late seventies retribution got their wish when Geoff did took off on his little medley of 'Video Killed the Radio Star' from which I understand that Geoff will be performing with his one time Buggles partner Trevor Horn for a benefit in his honor sometime in England next month. The new material was just as well received as the old stalwart hits from the hit bag judging by the audience reaction. Hearing the striped down versions of Wildest Dreams and The Heat Goes On had my mind flooding back to those nostalgic times of innocence of rigorious pain-in-the-ass piano instructors or heated moments when I would hide with my Asia and Alpha sheet music in between transcribing manuscipts of Bach or Mozart during my assignments for Music Theory classes back in high school just for a little dose of sanity - so it was fun to hear these 'low carb' versions over the coarse of two nights and from what I could see from Geoff's point of view or the visualization of seeing him displaying his chops up close and personal- there was a lot of augmentative thought that goes into these simple 'pop' songs.

It was a shame that drummer Chris Slade hasn't mastered the skill of figuring out a map of the Los Angeles area yet- otherwise, I would've gotten three autographs on the new album for the price of two. I'll be anxious for Geoff and John to be bringing the full band back for a 'real' album tour sometime in April of next year.

Setlist: (both nights, October 14 and 15, 2004)

Wildest Dreams
What About Love?
Long Way From Home
Heat Goes On
Silent Nation
Only Time Will Tell
Ghost in the Mirror
Video Killed the Radio Star
Heat of the Moment




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