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Arena Breakfast in Biarritz album cover
3.76 | 89 ratings | 12 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Moviedrome (21:57)
2. Crack in the Ice (4:25)
3. Double Vision (4:27)
4. Midas Vision (5:16)
5. Serenity (2:01)
6. The Butterfly Man (9:44)
7. The Hanging Tree (8:26)
8. A State of Grace (3:10)
9. Enemy Without (4:53)
10. Crying for Help VII (5:11)

Total Time 69:30

Bonus disc:
1. Chosen (6:33)
2. Elea (2:37)
3. Friday's Dream (4:38)
4. Arena Documentary (30:49)

Total Time 44:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Ron Sowden / vocals
- John Mitchell / guitars
- Clive Nolan / keyboards, backing vocals
- Ian Salmon / bass
- Mick Pointer / drums

Releases information

CD Verglas Music VGCD 021 UK (2001)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ARENA Breakfast in Biarritz ratings distribution

(89 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(56%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ARENA Breakfast in Biarritz reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
4 stars This is ARENA's seventh release all in all, and it's their second live album. While their first live album "Welcome To The Stage" (1997) was focused on their first two studio albums, their newly released live album "Breakfast In Biarritz" is focused on their newest albums "The Visitor" (1998) and "Immortal?" (2000). "Breakfast in Biarritz" was recorded at the "Paradiso", Amsterdam, Holland on Tuesday 17th October 2000 during the European leg of the "Immortal Tour". The guitarist John Mitchell is truly amazing, and together with the keyboard wizard Clive Nolan he's the brightest shining star in the band. Rob Sowden became the new vocalist in ARENA on their most recent studio album "Immortal?" Although I preferred Paul Wrightson's vocals I have to admit that Rob is doing a great job here. Besides the music, there are many things that make this album worth buying: The sound quality is very good for being a live album. The talented Mattias Norén has magnificently designed the artwork as well as the 16 page CD-booklet. There's also a special limited edition package containing a full length CD with three extra tracks and a multimedia section with over 30 minutes of live footage, the history of ARENA, interviews with all members of the band and much more. It was originally made for French Television. The quality of the footage is very good, and it's probably the longest multimedia section ever on an enhanced audio CD. As a live album this isn't a necessarily release but the multimedia section makes it definitely worth buying. This is perhaps mostly for the die-hard fans, but it's also a good introduction to the new ARENA at the time of the "Immortal?" album.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Live, but Immortal?

A live album recorded during the "Immortal?" tour by this excellent neo-prog band with some metallic tendencies. The performances are very faithful to the original tracks, with little room for enhancement, deviation, or extension. As good as this album is, the studio versions of the tracks are better.

CD 2 includes an interesting CD-Rom section, but apart from that, there's little to make this an essential purchase if you already have the original albums.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This double CD represents ARENA live performance. Overall, it's an excellent album. It opens with the epic track of Immortal? album - a very nice track even though takes so long on silent part at the beginning of the track, approx. 3 minutes, I think. The second track is taken from The Visitor album. Rob Sowden vocal is good. The tracks selection for this live performance is excellent. Some classics where Sowden was not involved in album version, like Midas Vision, was performed excellently. One of a good part of this album is in the 30-minute documentary part. It's great! One thing lacking is on disc 2 which there is a lot of space that should be filled some pieces of music.
Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Arena has always been very popular in The Netherlands. The live tracks from "The Visitor Revisited" (half acoustic, half live) were already recorded in the Paradiso (Amsterdam). Arena is at home there, and since then they have been playing countless times in that country (often at the mythical "De Boerderij" in Zoetermeer) I guess that "Breakfast In The Netherlands" or "Breakfast On The Canals" would have been a more appropriate title...There is a limited version release featuring three additional songs as well as an interesting overview from Arena's history in video format.

This second full Arena live album features logically almost exclusively songs from their last two albums. One exception being "Midas Vision" (from "Lion's Cage). It was a good idea to have it recorded since on their first live album, this track was not present. The other one will be "Crying For Help VII" from "Pride" also unreleased live at that time.

None of those track belong to the must have Arena repertoire but it was interesting to hear how Rob Sowden was interpreting the early repertoire. Since his voice is not drastically different than the one of Paul Wrightson, I have to say that they sound OK. "Help", a traditional encore is particularly good.

The comparison can also be done for three tracks from "The Visitor" already available on the live part from "The Visitor Revisited".

These are "Double Vision", "The Hanging Tree" and "Enemy Without". "Elea" is also present on both ones, but it is an instrumental track.

For the purpose of this review, I have listened to both versions of each side by side and there are really little difference. The main one being the better sound quality of the new recordings on "Breakfast In Biarritz". "The Hanging Tree" is also more extended on this album (over a minute). But most of the extension will feature an additional choir break, so globally both are rather similar as well. The very catchy "Enemy Without" is best played on this new release. It sounds more enthusiastic, and has more rhythm.

In total we will have no less than seven songs from their great album "The Visitor". The additional ones being : "Crack in The Ice" (the most commercial one nicely rendered with a special note for Ian Salmon who does a great job on bass). "Serenity" (a short instrumental) and "Elea" which is another very good instrumental number featuring a great solo from John (Mitchell). They are very similar to the studio version. As "The State Of Grace" actually.

From their last studio album, "Immortal ?" (which I moderately appreciate, bizarrely) we'll get four songs. One of the central piece of this live album is "The Butterfly Man". It was my favorite song of the album, and it sounds just as beautiful while played live. "Chosen" (rather hard) and "Friday's Dream" were originally, average tracks. They will remain so : good music but nothing exceptional.

The opener of this release will be their epic "Moviedrome". I have expressed my view already on this number while reviewing "Immortal ?". It is of course a good song but not a memorable one (IMO). The additional two minutes of this version are almost due to a longer intro. The rest is, again, very similar to the studio version. The great finale is of course fantastic here as well.

This is another very good live album from Arena. The band always sounds nice while on stage, even if they do not deviate too much from the studio versions.

My recommendations will be the same, especially for the casual fan (but not only). Moneywise, it will turn out cheaper to get this one instead of the two studio albums and you will really have the essence of these. Four stars.

Review by Matti
3 stars This was - together with Immortal? - my first encounter to ARENA, in 2001. Immortal? was their latest studio album at the time; many songs here are from that one, and with the constant changes of their vocalists, what else can one expect. Rob Sowden continues the typical Fish-like style of Arena vocals: loads of theatrality. (MARILLION is clearly their main influence right from the start, not only because of the former Marillion drummer Mick Pointer.) Sowden frankly takes dramatics a bit too far, as if he's underlining each word. Not that it would't fit just perfectly to excitingly dramatic songs like 'The Butterfly Man' or 'The Hanging Tree'.

A good introductory 2CD this was also for the ˝ hour documentary, which I viewed from my laptop. Four details about the members remain in my memory: 1) Sowden begged for "more, more!" challenges with his funny tall hat on, 2) the modest bassist Ian Salmon answered "bollocks" when guitarist John Mitchell praised his abilities on acoustic guitar, and 3) the keyboardist-composer Clive Nolan - known for many other projects too - stated that he doesn't have a life outside music; yeah, he and Pointer with their long hair also look like that, ha ha. And 4) Nolan said about tricky and complex music such as Zappa, that it looks good on paper but for him it's not good music, which I felt sympathy for.

Recently I have heard ARENA's debut which I enjoy even more than this, and now I wonder how little, and badly chosen, this includes songs from it. But maybe it's because this was already their second live release. To sum up: ARENA may feel quite adolescent in their adventurous drama, but it delivers some excellent, accessible and melodic Neo Prog, all that one can expect from the genre. And they have variety too, from ˝ hour epics to elegant instrumentals. I'm not qualified to say how well this package represents the albums between debut and Immortal? (some reviewers say that not very well), but for me it was a nice introduction.

Review by Warthur
3 stars A decent live set from the Immortal? tour, Breakfast In Bairritz drags a little at the start - the version of Moviedrome on offer is an alright rendition of a track which I don't think measures up very well - but once it gets going it's a lot of fun. My personal dislike of Immortal? is mildly confirmed by this album since when you present tracks from The Visitor and earlier releases next to the Immortal? tracks the songs from the latter album tend to suffer by the comparison, though by and large the band do their best with them and choose the more interesting songs from that release to perform. The Visitor tracks here are presented with a bit more explosive energy than the more measured delivery on the album, which will appeal to some. On the whole it's a decent release if you are a fan of Arena's pre-Contagion work, though it does leave me pining for a live release from the Visitor tour instead.
Review by kev rowland
4 stars Those with long memories may remember that when I last heard an Arena live album ('Welcome To The Stage') I wasn't over-complimentary. Now that was a few years, albums, and line-ups ago, so it was with an open mind that I put this double CD on the player. The first time I listened to it, I was alone in the house so I whacked it up while I concentrated on painting a bedroom.

The time flew by, and being alone I was able to get increasingly into the music. This line-up is certainly the best so far. Clive Nolan is and always be Clive Nolan, one of the very best keyboard players/composers/lyricists in any musical fields. He has probably graced more stages than any other person in the prog scene due to his many other projects (including also the fact that he has been keyboard player in Pendragon for an awful long time), and knows what the audience needs. Of course, the other co-founder is still there, the one and only Mick Pointer. The line-up is completed by bassist Ian Salmon (who has been involved with Clive for years, most notably in Shadowland), guitarist John Mitchell who has a much more central role to the music these days, and vocalist Rob Sowden. Rob has also been developing his stage persona and this comes through on the album.

A very strong double CD, with Arena showing that when it comes to symphonic prog there are few to match them. There is also a lengthy documentary on the band available as a CD- ROM track that is well worth watching. A good album.

Originally appeared in Feedback #62, May 01

Latest members reviews

4 stars The second live offering from Arena and every bit as good as the first. Using material from all four studio albums but concentrating on the visitor 6 out of 10 tracks. Oddly not recorded in Biarritz but actually in Amsterdam on the Immortal tour. It captures the feel of the band live very well ... (read more)

Report this review (#100252) | Posted by laghtnans | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I'm quite a big fan of Arena, and I can't find many flaws in their music, but this album is not what I hoped for. The sound quality is good, the performance of the songs are good, and does justice to the studio-recordings. Based on this I should give it four stars, but I won't. I have two pro ... (read more)

Report this review (#1067) | Posted by tuxon | Tuesday, March 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is the another official live-album by Arena. Unfortunately, I have the shorter version of this record, without the 2nd CD. Though I cannot say that I like it very much so I don't especially worry about the lack of that bonus CD. As their WELCOME TO THE STAGE this live record contains the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1066) | Posted by Emperor | Tuesday, March 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If one band is allowed to have the progressive rock-label, Arena is the one. They know perfectly how a good progressive CD should sound like. They have proven it more than once. Every studio album from this band is a masterpiece. From the first album on, all ingrediënts to make Arena an ex ... (read more)

Report this review (#1065) | Posted by | Tuesday, May 18, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second live album of Arena, this time presenting singer Rob Sowden. Tracks are from the previous two studio albums in most cases. The second disc contains a long video with interview snippets and live footage. Very interesting! ... (read more)

Report this review (#1060) | Posted by | Tuesday, November 11, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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