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Arena - Welcome To The Stage CD (album) cover

WELCOME TO THE STAGE

Arena

 

Neo-Prog

3.71 | 70 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Songs from the lions stage

Welcome To The Stage contains only tracks from Arena's first two studio albums, Songs From The Lions Cage and Pride, plus a brand new song called The Healer. The set list leans heavily towards the band's brilliant debut album Songs From The Lions Cage with no less than five out of the nine songs being taken from that album (the first track is just pre-recorded music, before the band comes on stage). Focusing so heavily on the debut album was a smart move, not only as it is a masterpiece in its own right, but because the line-up had changed since the debut and this new line-up probably wanted to make these songs their own, which is exactly what they try to do here. And even though I generally prefer the studio albums, I cannot say that they don't succeed!

Songs From The Lions Cage was, in my opinion, the band's first masterpiece album, but the line-up had not yet stabilized. As I said above, things had happened in the band since the release of their debut. The most important changes being that singer John Carson had been replaced by Paul Wrightson and guitarist Keith More had been replaced by John Mitchell. Wrightson and Mitchell performs the songs originally performed by Carson and More very well here. This live album had the same line-up that would later do the fantastic The Visitor, the band's second masterpiece album, and this line-up is a more seminal (possibly the ultimate) Arena line-up.

It can perhaps be argued that releasing a live album after only two studio albums is a bit premature, and maybe it was? The band's second album, Pride, is represented with three songs here.

For beginners I strongly recommend starting with the studio albums before going for this (or any other) live album by this excellent band. But this live album features excellent performances of the best songs from Songs From The Lions Cage and a very good taste of Pride too. Songs like Jericho and Solomon has since become live favourites and Arena classics, and listening to this live album it is very easy to understand why.

Excellent addition in addition to the studio albums.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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