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Downes Braide Association (DBA): Live in England

The Downes Braide Association -- also known as DBA -- is comprised of keyboard player Geoff Downes (Asia, Yes, The Buggles) and singer/songwriter Christopher Braide (noted for his work with Lana Del Rey, Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera). The pair met during a charity event featuring The Buggles and hit it off so well that Downes and Braide went on to record three studio albums between 2012 and 2017.

Live in England, boasting cover art by the renowned Roger Dean, was recorded in September 2018 at Trading Boundaries in East Sussex and marked the duo’s first live appearance. Dean introduces DBA by telling the enthusiastic crowd that he met Downes “nearly 40 years ago” (when both worked on Yes’s Drama album) and he met Chris “nearly 40 minutes ago.” He then goes on to call them both “geniuses.”

Backed by Andy Hodge on bass, Dave Colquhoun on guitar and David Longdon on flute, with pre-recorded appearances by Kate Pierson of the B-52’s and XTC’s Andy Partridge, DBA performs without live drums. That can make for a slightly distracting experience if you listen too closely.

That said, DBA crafts accessible often elegant progressive rock with pop flourishes. Braide sounds like a cross between a deeper-voiced Tim Bowness and an even deeper-voiced Jon Anderson. You probably won’t be humming any DBA songs later on, except for maybe “Suburban Ghosts” -- among the best of the bunch here and the title track from the duo’s 2015 second album. Downes pulls out a solo instrumental version of “Video Killed the Radio Star” at about the midway point, following a silky performance of Ravel’s “Bolero” (which also was the coda to “Cutting It Fine” from Asia’s self-titled debut).

The remainder of Disc One and most of Disc Two is comprised of the second side of 2017’s Skyscraper Souls, which includes the upbeat “Angel on Your Shoulder” -- one of DBA’s most soaring songs and one that injects new life into this performance. It will send listeners scrambling to pop into Disc Two. (This set opens with Skyscraper Souls’ 20-minute-plus title track.)

DBA saves the Asia material for the encore, performing “Heat of the Moment” and “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.” Braide is a completely different type of singer than John Wetton, and he’s backed primarily by Downes’ keys for these unlikely interpretations.

For hardcore DBA and Downes fans, Live in England is a must; for everybody else, it’s a hit-or-miss listen that's still a worthwhile addition to the vast Yes/Asia family tree.

Note: This three-disc set also includes a DVD of the entire 105-minute performance.

Track Listing: Disc One:
1. Prelude/Skyscraper Souls
2. Machinery of Fate
3. Live Twice
4. Vanity
5. Suburban Ghosts
6. Bolero/Video Killed the Radio Star
7. Glacier Girl
8. Angel on Your Shoulder

Disc Two:
1. Tomorrow
2. Lighthouse
3. Skin Deep
4. Darker Times
5. Finale
6. Heat of the Moment
7. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
8. Dreaming of England

Added: September 29th 2020
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Downes Braide Association Website
Hits: 144
Language: english

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