DBA (Downes Braiden Association)
Live In England [Limited Edition Deluxe 2CD/1DVD]
(2019 - Cherry Red Records - UK)
With introduction by the one and only Roger Dean (a visual master of Yes, among many other album covers over the past four decades) who did the cover art for DBA output including this deluxe 3 disc (2 CD/1 DVD) multi panel package; and the first song on the set list being 'Prelude : Skyscraper Souls', it is an amazing live concert for everyone to see and hear. Rich and as near perfect as the studio versions, nothing is missing. The ambience of the club is gorgeous as well.
Performed and filmed at Trading Boundaries (England) Sept 2018, Geoffrey Downes (keyboards), Christopher Braide (lead vocals), Andy Hodge (bass), Dave Colquhorn (lead guitar) and Barney Ashton Bullock (narration), with special guest David Longdon (vocals and flute) from Big Big Train; all make magic happen before the attending audience and for the people who for years will enjoy watching this on DVD. This is their first and so far only live performance. Being a technical band (Geoffrey Downes has wowed listeners on keys as a member of The Buggles, Yes, and Asia) and using rich symphonic keyboard based framework in Downes Braide Association (DBA), they use quite a lot of samples and complex midi layered instrumentation. Happily all that is easier to pull off live now. A nice back up band is there to add in backing vocals and allow the full range of symphonic and often sweeping arrangements to take place. Braide is just as magnetic on stage (or more so) as in the studio. He reminds of Colin Blunstone on some of his vocals and does a great John Wetton on 'Heat of the Moment' and 'The Smile Has Left Your Eyes' (those are dedicated to the late John Wetton).
A couple of throw back tunes are included (as mentioned 'Heat of the Moment' by Asia) such as 'Video Killed The Radio Star' (The Buggles) done in all instrumental fashion. It is here along with 'Bolero' that Downes commands the stage all alone. It shows that he could do a solo show without problems. The DBA material is focused on only the last two releases with nothing at all being done from their debut Pictures of You (2012). I can't say why but the majority of Suburban Ghosts (2015) is performed and all of (in sequence) Skyscraper Souls (2017) is done. A fair assessment of their sound is a more updated and extended version of The Buggles mixed with Alan Parsons Project, and a touch a Yes (their more pop oriented songs). The writing is strong and every song is memorable. With no shortage of ultra melodic, very attractive music, the band take an intimate setting, and smoothly put on a live concert that shows ultimate professionalism and skill. They also use background screen, fog and lights, to create lots of atmosphere to further enhance things.
The appearance by David Longdon is on 'Tomorrow' (vocals and flute) and 'Skin Deep' (flute). They also announce the recorded reading of Andy Partridge (XTC) on 'Darker Times'. Although he could not personally be there, his voice makes yet another special moment at the concert. The whole thing is relaxed and as you can often see the audience sitting quietly at their diner tables, the admiration is evident. The excellence of the entire performance is proof that more gigs could be done if they wish. The last song 'Dreaming of England' is a wonderful ending. Unforgettable.
An 8 panel digipak that displays possibly the most unusual but best layout work of Roger Dean's career, also includes a booklet. A knock out physical package with the 2 CDs and especially the DVD is supremely attractive. Very beautiful and necessary to own. Both the concert and the package are a feast for the eyes and ears. RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 1 - 25 - 2020