I was massively excited about this 2CD/DVD live offering by the legendary Geoffrey Downes (YES) and renowned producer Christopher Braide (collectively known as the Downes Braide Association or DBA) simply entitled “Live in England” which came out late last year. Thankfully, their stellar brand of prog rock with pop-like undertones to it sounds superb in a live setting as evidenced by this two-hour set, which was recorded at the Trading Boundaries in East Sussex back in September 2018.

This warm and intimate live album possesses a wonderfully organic edge and oozes class, atmosphere, and above all passion from beginning to end. Its glorious artwork by the renowned Roger Dean (YES) is truly fantastic and so is the music that is scattered across these two CDs and DVD disc. We get beautiful renditions of marvelous and incredibly well-written, memorable tunes such as the 22-minute “Skyscraper Souls”, the gentle “Tomorrow”, and the pop-tinged tower of melancholy that is “Lighthouse”. The emotional authenticity of the entire performance coupled with the band’s unique ability to conjure up vivid images in the mind of the listener is both inspiring and utterly rewarding. What blows my mind is that this release chronicles their first-ever live showcase under the DBA moniker, which is pretty insane given how good everything sounds and how well the musicians involved in the endeavor react and respond to one other throughout. These guys really capture all the subtle shades and nuances of DBA’s richly layered, textured compositions. Braide’s evocative voice adds color and a sense of intensity to the diverse song material and Downes’ musical wizardry is a real treat to immerse oneself in.

The relatively fast-paced “Machinery of Fate” is riveting and the touching “Live Twice” is wildly impressive too, but so are “Vanity”, “Suburban Ghosts”, and “Glacier Girl”. Perhaps the highlight is the heartfelt “Skin Deep” then? Their take on Asia’s huge radio hit “Heat of the Moment” is admirable too. Oh man, what’s the point of listing all these titles? The point is that you should listen intensely to the entire thing in one sitting.

The DVD captures the intimacy of the gig nicely and takes you close to the action stage, but unless you were there and would consider the DVD a cool souvenir from a splendid evening in the company of DBA, it is not the most interesting thing in the world to watch.

“Live in England” by Downes Braide Association is undoubtedly one of 2019’s best and most memorable releases and is as brilliant as it is breathtaking. Lovers of prog rock take note!