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The Urbane biography
Founded in Reading, UK in 1994 (as "Fake Smile") - Disbanded around 2006

The Urbane are a four-piece band from Reading, comprising John Mitchell (guitarist for prog legends Arena) on lead vocals and guitar, Martin Raggett on bass guitar, and Paddy Darlington on keyboards. Bob Dalton of It Bites fame has recently joined the band on drums and has played several gigs with them already in the UK and Europe.

Their first album, 'Neon' received critical acclaim upon its release in 1999, and their second offering 'Glitter' has also done rather splendidly as well. They have supported a number of well-known musicians at gigs across the UK and Europe, including Marillion, Kings X, Steve Hogarth, Bowes & Morley (Thunder) and Asia.

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THE URBANE discography

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THE URBANE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.09 | 9 ratings
3.13 | 11 ratings

THE URBANE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE URBANE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THE URBANE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE URBANE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
Time After Time


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Glitter by URBANE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.13 | 11 ratings

The Urbane Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars The Urbane is the band that was formed as Fake Smile by guitarist/vocalist John Mitchell prior to him being asked to join Arena. Fake Smile changed their name to The Urbane and their debut album was released on Verglas in 1999. Although John is still very busy with Arena, The Urbane have been touring and have now released their second album. Given the sort of material that he plays in Arena, this is very different indeed. While some may point to Radiohead as a possible influence, this is much more punky with real attitude and more in the way of indie guitars and melodies. John has a strong singing voice, and isn't afraid to let the music move around and change in a way that many guitar bands won't do. In "12" there are times when it is delicate and thoughtful while at others it is full on Manics.

This contradiction in styles is bound to find The Urbane fans that won't have heard of Arena, which could well be in their favour. Anyone thinking that this is a prog band due to both John's involvement and the label will be very surprised. The title track could be a lost number from Blur! Not really the sort of material expected from the co-writer of 'Contagion'. Another surprise is the choice of cover to be found half-way through the CD, a version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time". It really suits John's voice and the band's arrangement is delicate (apart from the chorus where they let rip) and it really works.

This may not be another prog album from John, but is a strong piece of work which is varied and interesting. Strong melodies and guitars will help this to appeal to a wide audience.

Originally appeared in Feedback #78, April 2004

 Neon by URBANE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.09 | 9 ratings

The Urbane Crossover Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars John Mitchell has left the Arena (but he'll be back)

The Urbane's main claim to fame is that they are led by Arena guitarist John Mitchell. Since Mitchell is now a key player in the Kino supergroup project, the future of the Urbane (if indeed it has one) is somewhat unclear.

Those expecting to hear Mitchell play soaring guitar solos similar to his magnificent work with Arena, should approach The Urbane with caution. The music here is generally straight ahead guitar rock, with little prog influence. It is far more Kino than Arena. That said, as the album develops so does the music, some of the later tracks being reasonably progressive.

There is a punk pop or power pop feel to several of the tracks, often with similarities to bands such as the Foo Fighters, "Aeroplanes" being particularly reminiscent of that band. Mitchell's guitar is always present, but any solos are kept brief, the vocals being dominant throughout. "Mary Jane" and "Try" are average punk pop songs, with little to distinguish them. Things improve markedly with the melodic pop rock of "Fading out" and "Neon" both of which have catchy choruses and strong melodies.

The prog elements develop on "Staring at the sun" which has a Porcupine Tree feel, and reach their peak on the final track "The tide". The guitar work on "The tide" has a similar feel to Genesis "Firth of fifth". It is hardly challenging technically, yet it has an atmospheric beauty and is enhanced by some effective key changes making it utterly compelling. This is easily the best track on the album.

Elsewhere, "Static" is enhanced by some effective female vocal backing by Barbara Wagner, while the longer "Immaculate" sees Mitchell's guitar work being afforded greater exposure.

In all, a slightly uneven album with some fine moments, and some rather average material.

 Neon by URBANE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.09 | 9 ratings

The Urbane Crossover Prog

Review by Greger
Prog Reviewer

3 stars My first impression of this new group fronted by ARENA guitarist John Mitchell was that this was nothing for me. I usually don't like this kind of noisy guitar pop a la RADIOHEAD and U2. I listened to it a couple of times though, and to my surprise I started to like it more and more. I recognised that some of the songs such as "Quietly", "Mary Jane", "Aeroplane", "Immaculate", "Staring At The Sun", "Static" and "The Tide", contained really good catchy melodies with hit-potential that you can't refuse to sing-a-long to.

This is their debut album and John is responsible for the main part of the song writing. Of course he plays the guitars and he is also handling the lead vocals really well. Besides this he is also participating in the producing and mixing of this album. Even though this is a band production it could easily be a solo album from John Mitchell. This is far away from the progressive symphonic music he is playing in ARENA though.

If you like progressive and symphonic rock and wants some contrast to that music, I suggest that you buy this album. It's a good choice if you're open minded to alternative rock.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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