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Downes Braide Association

Live in England

Review by Gary Hill

I really like this act. Just the two guys involved make it worth the spin. You've got Buggles, Yes and Asia keyboardist Geoffrey Downes as one half of the creative team. Then add in the superb vocals of Christopher Braide. You can't go wrong. This live set is presented as a double CD set with a bonus DVD. They have a band joining them at the show. They do quite a few cuts from their studio catalog (see my reviews of the studio albums for more detail on the songs themselves) along with some Buggles and Asia reinterpreted. The video is classy, too, but don't expect HD quality. That said, it's great from a video and audio point of view, particularly as a bonus.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
1
                 
Prelude/Skyscraper Souls

After a rather extensive spoken introduction, keyboards with bits of samples come into the mix to begin the show. The cut eventually makes its way to a piano dominated motif to create the backdrop for the vocals. After the first verse the arrangement fills out a bit. At more than 23-and-a-half minutes, this is the epic of the set. There is a false ending that gives way to more of the atmosphere that opened the piece. Then a more rocking jam emerges from there. There is a real mainstream AOR prog vibe at play. The piece grows to a real soaring prog rock movement as it makes its way forward. It eventually makes its way out to another mellower section. There are female vocals in the mix as it plays through that mode. This works through a number of shifts and changes and grows into something incredibly powerful before dropping way down again. The cut is reinvented as an electronic based mellower sounding concept. That movement gets a bit more powered up before they crescendo, and keyboards take over. Braide's vocals return over the top of that backdrop for the next vocal movement. The cut drifts to some mellow magical sounds from there for the closing section.

Machinery of Fate
An up-tempo piece, there is some killer AOR prog sound at play on this thing. Imagine The Buggles a bit harder rocking and you will be close to the sound of this thing.
Live Twice
This mellower number has a lot of style. It's another with a lot of Buggles sound in it. It gets into more rocking zones further down the road.
Vanity
The piano driving the opening movement of this cut. The track is moody and so pretty. There is a lot of drama and magic built into this thing. This is so strong.
Suburban Ghosts
A bit more electronic, this has a lot of style and charm. I particularly dig the section with the guitar solo later in the tune.
Bolero / Video Killed the Radio Star
I love Downes' take on this classical piece no matter how many times I hear it. Generally with something labeled like this, you expect a medley that flows from one thing into the other. Instead, there is a spoken break between the two pieces. Don't expect the vocals on the Buggles classic, though. This is part of Downes' solo section.
Glacier Girl
Piano and vocals make up the basic concept as this makes its way out of the gate. It's moody, pretty and complex. It's powerful, too. While it gets a bit more added to the mix later, it remains pretty close to its origins.
Angel on Your Shoulder
A faster paced AOR prog sound is at the heart of this number. It works out with a lot of style. It's more rocking than the previous tune. It gets quite powerful, but also eventually drops to mellow zones to end.
2
          
Tomorrow

One of the most mainstream rock songs here, this still has plenty of cool proggy elements, particularly in the guitar solo based break and the mellower movement at the end of the piece.

Lighthouse
Here we have a particularly proggy piece. This is energetic and powerful. It's one of the highlights of the set, really.
Skin Deep
I love the mellower and evocative sounds of this piece. This is another standout song, and I really love the little bit of synthesized voice at the end.
Darker Times
There is a spoken piece with atmospherics that opens this cut. As the song proper kicks in, it's another powerfully emotional arrangement and number. It grows out quite a bit as it continues. This is another that really manages to standout.
Finale
This tune wraps up the set with style. This isn't the end, though, as the encores are still to come.
Heat of the Moment
The first encore of the show is this Asia cut. This version is more keyboard based. It works well.
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Another from the Asia era, I almost think I prefer this version to the original. It's such a great tune either way. At the end of this we get band introductions.
Dreaming of England
This is another powerful piece of music. It isn't all that different from a lot of stuff, but it works really well. I love the soaring guitar concepts on this thing.
 
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