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Arena - Welcome Back! To The Stage CD (album) cover

WELCOME BACK! TO THE STAGE

Arena

Neo-Prog


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4 stars Has anyone the video for this live record? I sincerely have an interest to because it's impossible not to admit that all the band's instrumentalists (and sound-engineering personal too) must be very skillful musicians as they hasn't made any mistake or false making music by their equipment. The quality of the entire record and the virtuosity (except vocal, maybe - I'd be very glad if they will invite "band-free" Fish or even Ronnie James Dio to the microphones :-)) are the stronger sides of the band, exactly.

Well, practically all the concert-numbers are pretty similar to the original album- versions, though not without some fresh little features - the live-album is really pleasantly-listenable.

The record unexpectedly starts with the orchestral introduction by Mozart's William Tell Overture. (Why they have decided to open their show by just this one?! Why not to use more serious and closer to Arena's style some parts of Beethoven's sonatas, for example?).

The thing which has really made me glad was the 2nd track of the album (and the 1st one Arena has performed here); I'm talking about my favorite band's composition - the breathtaking Valley Of The Kings. Amazing and the highest point of all the CD! This version is even more powerful than the original, drums are perfect, keyboards and guitars are brilliant.

I need to say the whole tracklisting choice for this CD is almost ideal for my taste, except, maybe, the noodling Midas Vision, which is far not among my faves in Arena's catalog. I'd be totally delighted it'd be replaced by Empire Of Thousand Days, for example...

I think WELCOME TO THE STAGE is that kind of live-albums which could be a very good start points for new listeners of a band. This one is the collection of highlights - you can find a lot of them: epic anthems like Valley Of The Kings, Sirens or Solomon, nice and gentle numbers (Jericho) and killer-rockers (Welcome To The Cage, Out Of The Wilderness and Medusa).

I think this live-album is the most successful release by Arena ever. Highly Recommended not only for Neo-Progressive fans.

Report this review (#971)
Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars CAUTION !

This live EP is the perfect companion for Arena's first live album titled "Welcome To The Stage". Both were recorded at the same venue, the concert hall Le D'Auteuil in Quebec in May 1997.

I guess that the reason why Arena released this work separately is simply technical. These numbers could not fit on the original "Welcome" which lasted already for about seventy-three minutes. Unfortunately, at the time of this review, this work is no longer available (out of print).

It is part of Arena's "Cage CD's". This collection comprises "The Visitor Revisited", "Radiance", "Unlocking The Cage - 1995 - 2000", "The Edits" and this one. They are more collector items and dedicated to die-hard fans. They were produced in limited quantities.

Only three numbers will be featured :

"Empire Of A Thousand Days" is almost hard-rock. Not their best one, I'm afraid. It is almost a carbon copy of the studio track.

While I was reviewing Arena's "Pride" album I mentioned that "Fool's Gold" showed a lot of similarities with "The Knife" (especially in the intro, but not only). Since it was a rather rocking and solid number on the studio album, it is even more comparable in this great live version. The best number on this EP (and one of the best of both "Welcome"). Really a great number, perfectly rendered while played live.

The last song is the last encore of this concert. It is a very popular Arena live track (still played, well at least when I saw them in 2005). It is one of the "Crying For Help" songs. Namely the fourth one.

It starts very gently to give the audience a break after their great concert (Arena is very good on stage, believe me). Usually, the audience is "helping" with its vocal participation; but it will not be the case here. As such, this EP is a collector item. Still it is a pretty nice little one. three stars.

Report this review (#120827)
Posted Saturday, May 5, 2007 | Review Permalink

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