The Downes Braide Assosiation (DBA), never performed the music from their three released albums in front of an audience until they played a concert at the Trading Boundaries on September 28, 2018 in England. One year later everybody can witness what happened during their performance, because it has been released on a double CD and DVD with the title Live In England. But before I go deeper into this release, an introduction of this musical project might be in order. It's a musical collaboration between Geoff Downes and Chris Braide. Both musicians have been very successful in the music business throughout the years and they have sold millions of albums. Downes is best-known for his work with The Buggles, Asia and Yes, while Braide is known as a multi-instrumentalist and producer, who cooperated with Lana Del Rey, Christina Aguilera and David Guetta, just to name a few.
Geoffrey Downes (keyboards) and Chris Braide (vocals) got assistance from Andy Hodge (bass) and Dave Colquhoun (guitar) during this concert musical and also from Big Big Train front man David Longdon on vocals and flute and Barney Ashton Bullock doing some narration. Furthermore, the band was introduced by the famous album cover artist Roger Dean. Dean told the audience about the friendship with Downes since Yes released Drama in 1980 but at the same time he just met Braide before the concert.
The concert mainly featured the songs taken from their latest album Skyscraper Souls. From this album, released in 2017, they did all of the nine compositions. The rest of the material comes from their second album Suburban Ghosts (2015), the famous Buggles hit Video Killed The Radio Star in an instrumental version plus the Asia covers Heat Of The Moment and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. The last ones were done as a tribute to the late John Wetton, a close friend of Downes. Strangely enough no compositions were played from their debut Pictures Of You (2013).
Although the music delivered during this concert contains contemporary pop elements, it doesn't lack musicality at all. I would call it outstanding art-pop music with wonderful melodies that sometimes tend toward what we usually call progressive rock. Geoff Downes delivered some refined and beautiful orchestrations throughout the set. However ,not everything you hear on the double CD is played in real time on the keyboards, as you can see on the DVD. Strangely enough Geoff sometimes prefers to use some backing tapes to give a bigger live sound. Also, the drum parts are not done by a real human being. Everything comes from a tape or a computer. Too bad because a drummer of flesh and blood certainly adds something extra to a powerful performance. Fortunately, the wonderful voice of Chris is real and probably not overdubbed. His voice and looks from time to time reminded me of Steve Hogarth, the front man and lead singer of Marillion.
Watching the DVD shows that we are not really dealing with a high class release. The picture quality is average and slightly gritty, the sound is in stereo and not in 5.1 surround. The audience sits at tables with white blankets and burning candles ... Not really a great atmosphere for a rock concert as we used to have here in the Netherlands. It looks more like day out for some business associates who like to have some fun with a class of wine or a beer. Also, the camera shots could have been done better. Downes is filmed several times with his back facing the camera while playing on his keyboards. Also, the other musicians on stage hardly get any good shots while they do their thing on their instruments. Too bad because I also like to see at close range what they are doing during a live show. There is also no real live mood or atmosphere on stage and everything looks a little bit stiff. Maybe this is because this concert was of course the first time that DBA ever performed live.
All in all, despite the lower quality of the concert footage on the DVD, I am rather satisfied with this live release. The songs performed, even if some of the music comes from a tape, entertained me most of time. And that's all what counts.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Dave Smith)
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