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Wetton/Downes, John/Geoffrey: Urban Psalm (CD/DVD)

Only previously available as a single disc DVD from their online store, this Wetton - Downes' iCon live recording from St Mary-le-Bow church in London in 2009 has now been expanded to include the whole show across two CDs, while the slightly abridged DVD is also included. The coming together of Asia men (in fact many saw this as the catalyst for the original line-up's reunion), John Wetton and Geoff Downes iCon was a band in its own right, releasing three albums, and as Urban Psalm attests, playing live shows. It would have been easy I'm sure for the pair to simply slap their names on the front of anything they chose to release and simply live off past glories, but iCon was much more than that, the duo's unmistakable touch and sound expanded to include cello and at times a much more reflective tone. With Dave Kilminster (Steven Wilson/Roger Waters) on guitar, Pete Reilly on drums, Hugh McDowell (ELO) on cello and Anne Marie Helder (Panic Room) duetting on "To Catch A Thief" with Wetton, the musicians on stage are stellar; allowing for an interesting journey across a show split into two parts where 19 songs are aired. That journey also takes in the many aspects of the Wetton-Downes catalogue, the wonderful "Elstree" illustrating The Buggles were never just about videos killing radio stars, while "Starless" recounts Wetton's time with King Crimson quite magnificently. It's no surprise that the band the pair are best known together for, Asia, also get a look in, "Voice Of America" given a less pompous air, "Go" attacked with gusto and "Heat Of The Moment" relieved of its overheard status through a marvellous acoustic rearrangement.

It's an embarrassment of riches and yet it's songs such as "Rubicon", "To Catch A Thief" and "The Die Is Cast" that surprise the most by confirming what an underrated canon of work Wetton and Downes created under the iCon banner. Incorporating an Asia-ish lilt, the balance between pomp and pastoral, forcefulness and reserved, hook laden choruses and introspective soul searching is consistently hit. Impressively every aspect comes across even more strongly in this live setting. Being honest, it isn't a perfect recording, the very occasional missed note slipping through, while some of the onstage chatter between songs is infuriatingly quiet compared to the music taking you out of the 'live zone' in the process. Something which can also be said for the remote crowd noises that give the impression of the audience being miles from the stage as the faint surges of applause are barely heard.

However, what really matters is here in abundance, superb songs performed to near perfection, while the much missed John Wetton is in scintillating bass and vocal form. To be fair the whole ensemble is outstanding and they are Downes especially, as he should be given the room and time to prove it. Released with the full support of Geoff Downes and the John Wetton Estate, Urban Psalm is the first in a full, 'definitive' reappraisal the iCon catalogue is set to receive. Quite magnificent it is too, and a fine way to remember one of rock and prog's finest voices, best bass players and innovative song writers.


Track Listing
DISC ONE
1. COUNTDOWN TO ZERO
2. GO
3. I'VE COME TO TAKE YOU HOME
4. TWICE THE MAN I WAS
5. ELSTREE
6. VOICE OF AMERICA
7. THE DIE IS CAST
8. TO CATCH A THIEF
9. STARLESS


DISC TWO
1. PARADOX/LET ME GO
2. RAVEN
3. TRUE COLOURS
4. HEAT OF THE MOMENT
5. RUBICON
6. DON'T GO OUT TONIGHT
7. MY OWN TIME
8. DAYS LIKE THESE
9. IN THE END
10. ROCK AND ROLL DREAM


DISC 3 - DVD (NTSC REGION 0 PLAYABLE WORLDWIDE)
1. COUNTDOWN TO ZERO
2. GO
3. I'VE COME TO TAKE YOU HOME
4. ELSTREE
5. VOICE OF AMERICA
6. THE DIE IS CAST
7. TO CATCH A THIEF
8. STARLESS
9. PARADOX/LET ME GO
10. RAVEN
11. TRUE COLOURS
12. HEAT OF THE MOMENT
13. RUBICON
14. DAYS LIKE THESE
15. IN THE END
16. ROCK AND ROLL DREAM

Added: July 19th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Urban Psalm at Cherry Red
Hits: 603
Language: english

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