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Arena - Caught In The Act CD (album) cover





4.00 | 54 ratings

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5 stars Want it or not, Néo prog is one of the 'flavor of the month'. Since the end of the 90's, Magenta, Violet District, Carptree, Marillion (huge comeback last year) and mostly Arena did a lot of ruckuss in the music industry. Some of those bands carried a heavy truck full of lightning equipment and some bands like Marillion and Magenta had build a respectable concert reputation, even setting new standards in sound quality by the opinion of many newspapers.

So hurray yip ho-ho for Arena's fan, with Caught in the Act you posess a generous portion of old and new stuff. Honestly, I was a bit chocked by the performance of Sowden. I had to go over his 'theatrical personnality' and tragic mimics. Some people in this site even classified Arena as the 'cheesiest prog band on stage'. And with a smile on my face, I frankly thought so for a while. But then I realized how much these guys are giving their blood and sweat to make this gig a success. And the performance is excellent, if not perfect. No, no! I'm saying this for real, after seeing Rush In Rio, Glass Hammer Lex Rex Live and Roger Water Live in the Flesh, I can honestly say that Arena are as good as those. Arena does it good at every song (comparing to Rush clumsy performance in Rio).

Seeing Clive Nolan twirling around his impressive keyboard panoply is a treat. This guy is not only a skilled song maker and entertainer but also a very gifted player. I'd say he's the cement that makes Arena work so well. Him being the major support in most of the songs is the best way to improve their sound. Therefore, the sound of Caught in the Act in breathtaking. A great amount of money must have been injected to give this concert a surreal audio quality.

Apart form the top notch Nolan's performance is the other main column of the project: John Mitchell. Seeing him will ensure you that this guy is THE guitarist of the genre. You know, when making your guitar sound like that and when it looks that EASY for know you got the man. And he's the man, from start to finish. He's also fun to watch him interact with Ian Salmon. Salmon is often saw has the weakest link of the band. Naah. Saying that is speaking too fast. His bass techs are surprinsingly fast at times, and he surprised me many times in terms of complexity. He's more a low profile musician, but believe me I'd take him in my band ANY time he'd call. You don't have to be Geddy Lee to be considered competent! And what I like the most about him is that he's at his place: not wasting quality work at jumping around and posing and being a reliable sidekick to Mitchell.

A good round of applause for Mick Pointer's robotic drumming. By robotic I mean that he looks like he's about the miss the beat. He plays like he's at his first gig, really counting the beat and concentrating a lot to avoid clumsy drum rolls. It's just funny to watch that's all. Because he may not be a flashy performer, but he's honest at what he does and probably hates the glitter style.

Last but not least is Rob Sowden's (very) emotionnal gestures and ways. He reallys wants to make it work and some of you could find him cheesy and even lousy actor. Well, what we ask from him is not signing out of key. And man, this guy has a gift. His voice carries you where he wants and the credit goes mainly to his vocal performance. He carries a lot of pressure, considering the heavy vocal pyrothecnics in studio. The bar was (dangerously) high but he got it right. His voice didn't let go through some touchy songs in the Contagion album. I'm always admiring a great vocal performance and my hat goes to Sowden. He's not Peter Gabriel- entertaining but we forgive him at the minute he opens his mouth.

Oooh yeah this show is visually nicely done (lots of angles, good lighting kit) and the audio quality is prime time entertainment for those who dig the néo-prog mood.

Ka-ching! thank you very much, please come again.

Menswear | 5/5 |


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