The history of GPS starts with the melodic prog rock band Asia. When Asia's keyboard player Geoffrey Downes wanted to reunite the original line-up, the other three band members decided to establish GPS. Vocalist and bass player John Payne had been a long-time member of Asia and guitarist Guthrie Govan also used his skills on a number of Asia albums. Third GPS member Jay Schellen only recently took over the drums, so he didn't have a chance to participate on an album. Although most songs were already written, the break-up of Asia changed things.
Together with keyboard player Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard, K2) the album Window To The Soul (2006) was recorded under the name of GPS. During live shows, Okumoto was replaced by Erik Norlander. In 2007 GPS gave a number of performances in Japan in an acoustic setting. Both John Payne and Guthrie Govan played the acoustic guitar, while Payne did the vocal parts as well. This release contains a live show at Clapper, Tokyo and apart from the double CD the show was caught on video as well and was added as a DVD to this release. Being a keyboard orientated band, the lack of these instruments gives this album a different feel compared to the original studio album. While listening to these two musicians on stage I have to compliment them with a stunning performance that brings the album to life. One of the highlights is a great version of New Jerusalem where Govan shows that he's not only a master on the electric guitar, but also belongs to the top of acoustic guitar players. John Payne's vocals are a bit rougher than on the studio versions, but that just adds something special, especially on an acoustic album.
In between Payne is talking to the audience explaining the songs, and the interaction on stage makes you feel comfortable as if the concert takes place in your own living room with two great musicians sitting on your couch. On the first CD Guthrie Govan gets a great solo spot that proves once more what a virtuoso guitar player he is. The second CD contains two songs that Payne used to play with Asia. The first one is Military Man from Aria (1994), featuring some people in the audience who are clapping during the entire song, which is rather annoying in my opinion. The second Asia song is The Longest Night which was originally released on Aura (2001); this song is also slightly ruined by the same clapping people. I think these Japanese fans are only familiar with the Asia compositions since only the last two songs have been infected by this clapping virus...
The DVD provides a good picture of an acoustic concert played by two born musicians, although the quality of the images isn't always as sharp as I would like to have; I guess the light setting wasn't optimal for a video recording. Thus I can only qualify this recording as a good bootleg that has been repaired for a DVD release. Still I'm glad that Gonzo Multimedia released these albums. I know that a live performance of two guys sitting down with only acoustic guitars is not the most interesting to look at, but the perfectly played songs from the Windows To The Soul album makes this DVD worthwhile. As a bonus you'll get an interview with John Payne, Jay Schellen and Ryo Okumoto.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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