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Arena Welcome to the Stage album cover
3.68 | 83 ratings | 10 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. William Tell Overture (3:10)
2. Valley of Kings (10:07)
3. Out of the Wilderness (6:46)
4. Midas Vision (4:45)
5. The Healer (4:51)
6. Sirens (13:57)
7. Medusa (4:22)
8. Welcome to the Cage (4:33)
9. Jericho (7:01)
10. Solomon (13:55)

Total Time 73:27

Line-up / Musicians

- Clive Nolan / keyboards
- Paul Wrightson / vocals
- John Jowitt / bass
- Mick Pointer / drums
- John Mitchell / guitar

Releases information


Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ARENA Welcome to the Stage ratings distribution

(83 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ARENA Welcome to the Stage reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
2 stars I don't like such live albums very much, nor such common places regarding UK new-progressive wave (except on some stuff by IQ and a few songs by the melodic PENDRAGON as well, these latter too much emulating CAMEL!!). I saw them live in Italy a couple of years ago and I remained quite disappointed !!

I don't like to suggest this kind of progressive to you, but If you're involved in such style. You can listen to a good quality of recording. Make your choice!!

Review by richardh
4 stars One of the best live albums of the last 10 years that leaves many similar bands standing at the bus stop waiting for a number 9 bus.This band write quality songs and deliver them with GRACE and POWER.Clive Nolan is one of the best keyboard players in prog while the band is as tight as a gnat's anus.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars How come I haven't given my words on this terrific live album? Oh . forgive me, I should have done it long time ago. Why? This album has helped me appreciate the band's first two albums that at first release did not click me, concept-wise. But, once I got this album and had it spun at first experience - it blew me away. The live ambience and the sleeve photographs did stimulate musical energy to me. It's an excellent live show, I would say; performed lively and dynamically by the band. Genesis-wise (learning from Genesis experience), this can be considered as "Seconds Out" for the band's lead singer Paul Wrightson. Well, he is a great singer and as far as taste concern, I prefer him than the new lead singer Rob Sowden. Wrightson's voice is much powerful. But I don't mind at all with Sowden as well.

"William Tell Overture" serves as Fire-bird Suite ala Yes's concert which typically follows with Siberian Khatru. This time, Arena continues it with dynamic and energetic tune "Valley of The Kings" which has hard driving rhythm accentuated by soaring keyboard sound by Nolan. Oh, I do enjoy the inventive basslines by Joh Jowitt (later quitting Arena and focusing on IQ). The keyboard solo is also stunning. The two combine beautifully and produce awesome music. Mick Pointer - who was fired by Fish* from Marillion right after the Recital of The Script at Hammersmith Odeon, 1983 - did an excellent drumming (after 10 years vacuum not playing drum - turned his career as kitchen designer). Excellent job, Pointer. I wonder why Fish fired him, really. In fact, he was the one who auditoned Fish to join Marillion.

"Out of The Wilderness" did make my adrenalin exploding with excellent keyboard at the opening part followed by heavy voice of Wrightson. John Mitchell's guitar fills the part nicely between lyrical passages. There is a segment with keyboard solo that I love. "Midas Vision" provides some sort of break to the audience as the music is slower in terms of beat, exploring keyboard and guitar in a bluesy based music. I like the part where Wrightson sings "Reaching out ..". Simple yet powerful. All tracks are performed excellently, and the peak for me is the performance of "Solomon" where Paul Wrightson really sings with full heart and all other musicians played excellently. "Don't answer me with the same old questions!", he sings. The music starts in a slow tempo and it increases its tempo in the middle of the track with stunning guitar solo, great keyboard and really solid bass lines. Bravo Mr Jowitt! This is one of the best neo prog songs, I think. Look! How great the intertwining sounds of keyboard and guitar during interlude combined with dazzling drum sounds and inventive bass lines. Greaaaaatttt ...!!!!

If you like neo prog and live albums, this is an excellent addition to any prog collection. If you like Arena in specific, there is no reason not owning this CD. And .. don't worry about sonic quality of this album; unlike typical live sound quality, this one is excellent! I even play it outloud with my home stereo. The louder you play it, the better you can sense the true ambience of the concert. Try it! Recommended. Keep on proggin' .!

Progressively yours, GW

*) Reference: MARILLION "Separated Out" book

"When agony comes more from hope than failure. Look further than your preconceptions, expectations. / Where the power of the mind can take you out beyond this reach. / Higher than the dull and simple world you know so well / Back to paradise..." - Solomon by Arena

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I just stumble on this CD a few days ago. Before that I did not even know its existence. But what a treat it turned out! I've been a fan of Arena for years, but I never really thought their first two effords were that good. I mean, the songs were very good, but something was missing. They seemed to lack power and dynamics.

Well, was I surprised when I heard those songs played live. There were some indications though: first this is the best line up Arena ever had (no wonder, is the same that recorded their masterpiece The Visitor). Second: the production here is much better than the previous ones, even if it's a live album. All instruments and vocals are perfect mixed and recorded.

But what stands out all the time is the dynamics of the band. Everything the studios versions lack here they abound. The performance is energetic and flawless, full of power and passion. Paul Wrightson is surely the best singer Arena had, even though he might sound a little too Fish like for some people. Even Clive Nolan's keyboards sound improved. But even if the whole band is in top form here, what really stands out is John Jowitt's bass playing: dynamic, melodic, subtle and powerful all at once. Jowitt's bass fills all the gaps and never overdoes it. A truly instrumentist who works for the music, he knows when to play and when not to play. He's one of the most inventive of today's bassists.

It's a shame this line up did not last too long. This record is a document of a great band's great moment. If you're a fan of Arena, or neo prog, or good music in general, you can't miss this one. Highly recommended!

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Arena produced two good studio albums so far. But IMO, the second one was a timid copy of their debut "Songs From the Lions Cage". If you bear in mind that out the eighteen songs produced on both albums, eight were interludes called "Crying For Help" (one to eight); they totalized ten full songs so far.

Almost all of them will be featured here. I say almost because "Empire Of A Thousand Days" and "Fool's Gold" will be featured on a live EP called "Welcome Back! to the Stage". A third song featured on "Welcome Back!" will be one of the serie of "Crying". It is a well known part of their live performances (up to now). It is "Crying IV".

Arena is a very good band on stage. They communicate very well their enthusiasm with the audience and demonstrates a great musicianship. All of this is represented here. The sound is also very good, so we will have a very pleasant live album here.

Not a single weak moment of course. The tracklist is outstanding. Nothing else than very good to great numbers. IMO "The Healer" is the weakest track. It was featured on their short album (or long EP if you prefer) called "The Cry" which was holding the eight "Crying" numbers as well as two unrealeased songs of which "The Healer". Paul Wrightson sounding furiously as Fish in this track. A bit too much, I must say.

Most of the songs are quite faithfull to the original though, maybe a bit (but just a bit) harder...

My preferred songs here are "Out Of The Wilderness", "Sirens", "Jericho" (which works really well while played live. It is really outstanding here) and of course the wonderful "Solomon" with its brilliant and emotional closing part. A "Best Of" Arena from the early days, really.

Since the numbers are close to their studio version, I might even recommend this live album to Arena newbies. It will be a cheaper way to get almost all of the great tracks of their previous two efforts for the price of one.

Four stars for this very good Arena live album. I would even say nine out of ten.

Actually, if Arena had dropped "The Healer" and replaced it with "Fool's Gold " it would have reached the masterpiece status.

Review by Warthur
4 stars This first live album from Arena contains decent live versions of all the major (ie, non-Crying For Help) tracks from Songs From the Lion's Cage, plus the better cuts from Pride and a mildly pop-leaning moment in the form of The Healer from The Cry EP (a collection the Crying For Help tracks with new lyrics). Fans of the band will dig these versions, particular since the release represents the debut of the lineup who would go on to record The Visitor, taking the Arena sound to a new level, though at the same time I don't think the renditions here are interesting enough to quite justify this one to a non-fan. If you were really into Arena's "stories from classical civilisations" phase and want a live album of that material it's your best bet though.

Latest members reviews

4 stars An album that will never be surpassed by Arena. The reason for it? Paul Wrightson sings. The differences with the other live album, Breakfast in Biarritz are striking. And Paul delivers a very, very good job. He lifts the songs to heights never thought. On their previous studio albums, most songs ar ... (read more)

Report this review (#230892) | Posted by Keet | Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A first live offering from a band which you really should try and see. It was recorded in Quebec City in 1997 and captures the feel of Arena live brilliantly. Using the William Tell Overture to build an atmosphere and welcome the band then playing three tracks from the debut album. This is fol ... (read more)

Report this review (#100246) | Posted by laghtnans | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album leans heavily on their debut album "Songs from the lions cage". Except for "the crying for help" sections the complete album is played. The sound quality and production is of good standard (as is expected for this band). With only two songs the "Sirens" album however is not well rep ... (read more)

Report this review (#91904) | Posted by tuxon | Monday, September 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Ok, here you'll find a very decent neo-prog album. Arena is (or was) a supergroup but they don't sound like a supergroup the most of the time. This live recording is very powerful and contains a few memorable live versions ("Valley of kings", "Sirens" -a classic- , "Medusa", "Solomon") but it' ... (read more)

Report this review (#40416) | Posted by progadicto | Tuesday, July 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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