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Arena Caught In The Act album cover
4.01 | 57 ratings | 8 reviews | 39% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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DVD/Video, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Witch Hunt
2. And Angel Falls
3. Painted Man
4. This Way Madness Lies
5. Spectre At The Feast
6. Skin Game
7. Salamander
8. Bitter Harvest
9. City Of Lanterns
10. Riding The Tide
11. Cutting The Cards
12. Ascension
13. Serenity
14. Chosen
15. Double Vision
16. Hanging Tree
17. Breathe
18. The Butterfly Man
19. Enemy Without
20. Solomon
21. Jericho
22. Crying For Help VII

Extras: fully animated menu / Arena's biography and individual member's profiles / interview with Mick Pointer and Clive Nolan / discography / photo gallery / art gallery / desktop images / weblinks

Total Time: 130:00

Line-up / Musicians

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

Releases information

DVD Metal Mind Productions Cat. #MMP DVD 0012 (2003)

Sound options: Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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ARENA Caught In The Act ratings distribution

(57 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(39%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (9%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ARENA Caught In The Act reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars True Neo Prog Masterpiece, performed LIVE!

With a wide spectrum of prog music, obviously you have to switch your taste - temporarily - to neo prog vein if you really want to enjoy this DVD. It's probably hard to appreciate this live set if you do not enjoy neo prog or you get used to watch Dream Theater "Live at Budokan" DVD with all head banging things. But if you love ARENA's music, this DVD is a definitely a MUST for you as this is the first full live set DVD from the band, as far as I know. Recorded at the Krzemionki television studios in Krakow, Poland in 11 April 2003, Caught In The Act shows an excellent live concert. The band delivers most tracks of their "Contagion" album as well as "Visitor", "Immortal?" and "Songs from the Lion's Cage". For me personally, I really enjoy watching this DVD even though I have to admit that there is nothing that really stands out from this DVD - everything is just as usual prog concert. The first time I got this DVD, I spun and watched many times in its entirety with a very uplifting mood. It's probably I love the band's music and was familiar with all tracks featured in this video. There was no audience participation. I don't know whether they're just stunned with the concert ore just stayed quiet because they're not Arena audience? There seem no audience voice captured by the microphone as well. Well, in terms of usual rock concert, it is not a lively one. (I imagine if I were there in the concert, of course I would sing a long with the music! - that's exactly what I do whenever I watch this DVD!)

The live opener "Witch Hunt" is in fact an opening track for the band's "Contagion" album. It's an upbeat and uplifting track that I can not help myself for not being emotionally involved with the live nuance - as if I were one of the crowd. Of course, I shout "Exile! You show no mercy!" out-loud when watching this part on screen (it's my house man, I don't care! No one's looking at me but my family members - which they know me very well with my habit . too bad for them hah? That's the conditions that they have to accept, my friends . Selfish? Probably!).

The Musicians

I almost don't really care with an ugly look of Rob Sowden with his fluorescent glass (sorry Rob, I hate your appearance like this!). His voice is powerful, so I neglect his appearance and live act. I love John Mitchell guitar style on stage - relax and cool. Sometimes he walk around the stage approaching Ian Salmon (bass) doing some face to face communication with unspoken words. Ian's style and bass playing is also good, I like it. Clive Nolan is active with his keyboard with some body language in his live style. I'm so happy watching Mick Pointer in this show. He has improved a lot in his drumming as compared to his first performance with MARILLION "Recital of The Script". [ Note: What makes me happy with Mick is basically his return to prog music after 10 or 12 years vacuum in music industry. I read his story in the Appendix of a book : Marillion - Separated Out where he turned to be a kitchen designer after he left Marillion. Ten years later, a die hard fan of Marillion tracked him down and made a direct phone call asking him to make another great music like he did with marillion. To make the story short, finally he was introduced to Clive Nolan and made a new band: ARENA. Oh . what a great prog story for me man . A fan can inspire the prog musician! So inspiring isn't it? At least for me personally .]. Yup, Mick does a great job with ARENA and especially with this live show.

The Music

The music flows magically from "Witch Hunt" to "Ascension" (12 tracks out of 16 of "Contagion" album) with various styles and stunning performance with flawless delivery by each musician. Even though I like the whole performance, but when it reaches "Painted man" I really enjoy it very much. That's not the end as when I go with the show, it has a quieter passage under "City of Lanterns" where Rob plays acoustic guitar and sings. It continues with an adrenalin-exploding track "Riding The Tide". Oh man . this part is really W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L. This time John Mitchell live act is really cool. He plays great guitar solo combined with his silent communication with Ian Salmon while playing bass guitar. What a nice show! Clive Nolan's keyboard solo is also nice during this part.

Having done the "Contagion" excellently the band brings us to their previous album "The Visitor" with a Flodian guitar solo "Serenity". Mitchell . you make my day man .this is a great guitar solo to set the atmosphere of the next live acts. "Chosen" (from "Immortal?") album is also a great show. Other tracks from "The Visitor" like "Double Vision", "Hanging Three", a track with killing melody "(Don't Forget To) Breathe" and "The Butterfly Man" are performed stunningly. I would say all Arena's best tracks are performed flawlessly here. I imagine if a "Crying for Help" from Songs from Lion's Cage is also performed and featuring Steve Rothery (Marillion) in guitar solo interlude ..what a great experience!

The Disc Quality

The recording quality is good in terms of delivering a balanced sounds. However, this DVD lacks power (volume) as I have to play with greater than half the volume of my power amplifier to get an audible sound. The picture is good also.

Overall Recommendation

It's a MUST for Arena or neo prog lovers. You will get a great DVD that features some (not all) of the band's best tracks performed excellently. As I said, even though there is nothing that really stands out as far as "atmosphere" of a dynamic live concert, but the music is performed excellently. If you enjoy Arena music, you would be emotionally involved with the music during the show and this video would pour you with a stream of acts and sounds that bring to ultimate satisfaction of your mind. For rating, I would give a 4 ╝ out of 5 stars. Highly recommended. Keep on progging!

Yours progressively,

GW - Indonesia

Review by Menswear
5 stars Want it or not, NÚo 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 nÚo-prog mood.

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

Review by richardh
2 stars I love the live CD 'Welcome To The Stage' but many of the songs from that are absent on this later show.The band are as tight as ever but much of it just leaves me cold to be honest.The presentation leaves something to be desired for a DVD.Maybe worth getting for less than a tenner.
Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This DVD consist of the whole of their "Live & Life" CD released a year later than this one.

Tracklist is exactly the same. Usually, DVD's have some addtitional songs featured but it won't be the case here. I had to watch this DVD through my DVD player and standard telly, and I had problems with the sound (I had to put it real high to be able to listen to it). During almost the whole lenght of the DVD, you can hardly hear the audience reactions. I guess that there is definitively a technical problem there.

I have already enjoyed an Arena concert (in 2005 for their "Pepper & Ghost" tour). These are great moments because the band is really skilled and plays back their songs very faithfully. They are energetic and Rob is a relatively good entertainer. For the details of the music, you can have a look at my review of the double CD set "Live & Life".

I will just outline here the additional features you can get out of this DVD. I won't be long over the "fully animated menus", bio, photo gallery etc. These are unfortunately always weak moments on a DVD. I would like bands to be a bit more creative in this respect. Being the owner of a (small) multimedia company, I know that this could be easily improved.

I will highlight here some of the interview parts. I really believe that the interviewer should be fired. Asking such stupid questions is really unbelievable.What's more is that the band not only answered to them, but left them as such on this DVD.

I'll give two examples.

1. Interviewer ask them about the concept of their first album "Songs From The Lions Cage". Both CLive and Mick will tell him that it was no concept, just a collection of songs.

2. The stupid guy will ask them the difference between hard rock and progressive rock. Great discussion !

The interesting moments of this interview will be the origin of the band (while Clive and Mike met and wrote the first few songs with some pints in front of them). You'll also learn that Mick's introduction to music were Deep Purple, Led Zep, Black Sabbath (end of the sixties and the very begining of the seventies) and sometime later Yes, Tull and Genesis. I found this quite remarkable because it corresponds almost to what I have experienced (even if Mick is ... three years older as I am). As far as Clive is concerned, you will learn that he was rather into classical music and that he only discovered prog with "Seconds Out".

I can only recommend this one better than the double CD "Live & Life". You'll get the same track list but at least you will be able to see the band (even if there are little visual features). On top of that, this DVD seems to be lot cheaper than the CD so...

Fours stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Excellent DVD, marred only slightly by the fact that the general sound is a little too low on the final editing. That┬┤s strange since otherwise the balance is perfect: you can hear all the instruments and voices almost like a studio recording. Anyway, it is really a treat for all fans of this outstanding prog band that started out as a simple side project for Clive Nolan (Pendragon, Shadowland) with ex Marillion drummer Mike Pointer. If you consider how many of those project Nolan had already done (Strangers On A Train, Wakeman-Nolan, etc), it is all the more amazing to see how far they have reached up till that point.

Caught In The Act was recorded during the tour for Arena┬┤s Contagion CD and it is no surprise that the bulk of the songs are from that album. Which is not bad at all, since that record is one of their best (second only to their masterpiece The Visitor) and being a concept album, it is only logical to play it almost entirely and in the correct running order of the CD. But fans of the earlier material cannot complain much since they also play three songs from both The Visitor and Immortal?, two from their debut Songs From The Lion┬┤s Cage and one from Pride. Most of the time the choice of material was the best from each CD. The only exception to this rule is in the case of Pride: I┬┤d much rather see them playing the epic Sirens instead of Cry For Help VII, but you can┬┤t have everything, right?

For the perfomances themselves, the band is in fine form. They seemed to be playing together since forever and it amazed me: Contagion was just the first Arena┬┤s work to feature the same line up as its previous one and still they play like a seasoned group. The original duo found a very talented guitarrist (John Mitchell) that gave them the right ingredient to expand their original formula and save them from the ' Marillion clone' syndrome of their first two releases. Singer Rob Sowden is a very charismatic singer with an very good voice, strong and versatile enough to perfect deliver Nolan┬┤s dark and gloomy lyrics (something Nolan himself always lacked when he fronts Shadowland). The rhythm section of Ian Salmon (bass) and Pointer is powerful and dynamic, giving the songs a driving beat that is both original and very adequade for the tunes.

Wih fantastic stage lightining, good camera angles and a killer repertoire, this is surely a must have for any fan. Arena really exceeded all expectations. Kudos to them!

Rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This is a wonderful DVD, The filming is excellent and the sound quality equally as good.The performance during this live set is excellent. The lead guitar playing from John Mitchell is second to none. Since buying the DVD I have very much enjoyed watching it. Neo -Prog or what you want to call i ... (read more)

Report this review (#110594) | Posted by | Saturday, February 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was specially recorded in Poland during the Contagion tour 2003. The first 13 tracks are the album almost in its entirity played without a break. Perhaps it's the unfamilliarity of the new material but the crowd don't seem overly involved. This aside the renditions are carried out brillia ... (read more)

Report this review (#100283) | Posted by laghtnans | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Opening Quote: This is my first review for Arena (my best band beside Dream Theater). I bought this DVD almost in the same time with IQ "Subterranea-The Concert" DVD. The case was identical. I wanted to have it although I had bought "Live & Life" CD. I was very satisfied to see them (I had com ... (read more)

Report this review (#89225) | Posted by Fernandi | Friday, September 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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