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Arena - Smoke & Mirrors CD (album) cover

SMOKE & MIRRORS

Arena

 

Neo-Prog

3.83 | 61 ratings

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Tailscent
4 stars This is another tour I was present at, exactly on 16 September 2005, and a month later at the reunion concert. Too bad the setlist was much the same, but I finally got to see Paul Wrightson live for the first time. Yes proggers, I was one of the poor saps who saw Arena live for the first time in 2003 during the "Contagion" tour. Personally I have no problem with Rob, but John Carson is still my favorite singer of Arena.

Where to start? Well, it was their 10th anniversary, so they played a variety of songs, up to and including songs from "Pepper's Ghost", the new album. Katowice, Poland is a place where *many* DVD's are recorded nowadays, including Arena's, Pendragon's, Landmarq's and Quidam's. This is no exception, and although the stage is small, the atmosphere really seeps off your television, monitor, or whatever it is you're using. It's an old fashioned/modern theatre, well-suited to the "Pepper's Ghost" material, and the other songs too. The lighting is superb, as is the camera work. The audience is great and lively, unlike on the previous "Caught In The Act" DVD. The setlist is quite long and includes, as said before, four songs off "Pepper's Ghost", as well as some from all the previous albums. Sadly only "Medusa" represents "Pride", which is a very strong song, I think.

"Bedlam Fayre" is a power opener, similar to "Witch Hunt". Right from the start we get material from "The Visitor", including "The Hanging Tree" and "Don't Forget To Breathe", until we get two new songs again. "Purgatory Road" remains one of my favorites off "Pepper's Ghost", really. It's followed by a beautiful version of "Waiting For The Flood", where, at the end, Rob mistakes the lyrics slightly. :) No matter, because everything goes superb in "The Shattered Room". From here it's just older material, kicking off with "Immortal?"'s "Chosen", and, yes, WITCH HUNT! This song is so good that even the audience can't sit still. :D After that things go on with more regular end- of-concert songs such as "Enemy Without", "Solomon" and "Crying For Help VII". Only "Friday's Dream" was a surprise, and a beauty at that.

Was that it? Nah...the bonus footage was of the reunion concert I mentioned at the beginning, with ex-Arena members John Jowitt (IQ, Jadis) and Paul Wrightson. If you know where to look, my head is featured many times on this fan material, only I didn't have my glasses back then. ;) Proof I was there, and in everyone's livingroom too! :D They play songs from "Pride" and "The Visitor" with these members, where Paul sings but you can't see him. Then, everyone starts to notice he's coming through the audience, just like during the Visitor Tour, or so I've heard. It's too bad the lighting's a bit dark, so you can't see Paul very well, though that's remedied in the encore, featuring everyone on stage, a duet between Rob and Paul with "Crying For Help VII". It's really great it was filmed. Another lovely keepsake of a tour I've seen. :)

Conclusion? Definately the best Arena release so far. I love this one much more than "Caught In The Act", I have to admit. 4 stars seem appropriate, doesn't it? Why? Well, I've gotten accustomed to Arena, and I can't call this a "masterpiece". Plus the CD in the limited edition only features the first half of the concert, sadly. Still, if you like Arena, you're better off buying this, rather than, yes, "Caught In The Act". Prog on.

Yours, Tailscent

Tailscent | 4/5 |

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