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ARENA

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Arena biography
The gathering of ARENA's famous musicians makes a super-group: Mick POINTER (Ex-MARILLION) plays the drums, Clive NOLAN (PENDRAGON) the keyboards, and Keith MORE (ASIA) played the guitar until replaced by John MITCHELL (Ex-Kino).Vocalist Rob SOWDEN has been with the band since IMMORTAL? and the bass player is Ian SALMON. There have also been some guest appearances by Tracy HITCHINGS (singer of QUASAR, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN & LANDMARQ) and Steve ROTHERY (MARILLION's gifted guitarist).

"Songs From The Lion's Cage" is then a very professional Progressive rock, both close to MARILLION and hard-rock. "Pride", their second opus issued in 1996 (one year after the previous one) confirmed the high musical level of this band, at a time when they added a touch IQ to their music. Curiously the band's sound gained in heaviness after their 2 first albums, and the music quality increased a lot in originality and musicianship.

Recorded in 1998, "The Visitor" alternates passages inspired by Steve HOGARTH's group along with some dark instrumentation. "Immortal" shows a new heavier dimension that still remains anchored in the best neo-Progressive music. "Moviedrome" is an excellent twenty minute track. "Contagion" follows the glorious tradition of "Immortal", although I found it more hard edged and multidimensional from all aspects. This powerful and evoking concept album tells about the quest for redemption, through the vision of a dark and anguishing future. No doubt about it, people won't have to think for a long time before electing the best album of winter 2002-2003! One of the best bands on the English scene nowadays... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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Buy ARENA Music


Seventh Degree of SeparationSeventh Degree of Separation
Import
Ais 2011
Audio CD$9.30
$9.88 (used)
VisitorVisitor
Import
Inside Out 2004
Audio CD$15.38
$9.59 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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1984 NEW WAVE ROCK Duran Duran Arena Orig Release Live LP VG+/VG+ @ USD $2.99 [0 bids]
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Heart ?- Never 7" 45 RPM Single w/ Picture Sl.Promo Record 1985 Arena EX Pop USD $0.99 Buy It Now 9h 8m
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SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS 2013 GOODREM URBAN PRIOR BARNES SEBASTIAN ARENA CRAIG HI5 USD $24.48 [14 bids]
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It Bites ?- Calling All The Heroes SEALED 1st Press 1986 UK 12" EP Arena Kino USD $18.95 Buy It Now 16h 57m
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More places to buy ARENA music online Buy ARENA & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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ARENA shows & tickets


  • Arena at Borderline, London on 19 Mar 2015
  • Arena at The Citadel Arts Centre, St Helens on 20 Mar 2015
  • 20th Anniversary Tour "THE UNQUIET SKY" on 27 Mar 2015
  • Rock Ittervoort 2015 on 28 Mar 2015
  • Arena at Hedon, Zwolle on 31 Mar 2015
  • Arena at Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg on 1 Apr 2015
  • Arena at Zeche Carl, Essen on 2 Apr 2015
  • Arena at Chez Paulette, Pagney-derriŔre-Barine on 3 Apr 2015
  • Arena at Bergkeller, Reichenbach on 5 Apr 2015
  • Arena + Knight Area at Kinoteatr Rialto, Katowice on 9 Apr 2015
  • Arena + Knight Area at Proxima, Warszawa on 10 Apr 2015
  • Arena at Blue Note, Poznan on 11 Apr 2015
  • Arena at Z7 Konzertfabrik Pratteln, Pratteln on 14 Apr 2015
  • Arena at Le MarchÚ Gare, Lyon on 23 Apr 2015
  • Arena at Divan du Monde, Paris on 24 Apr 2015
  • Arena at Boerderij, Zoetermeer on 25 Apr 2015

ARENA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.87 | 304 ratings
Songs From The Lion's Cage
1995
3.69 | 236 ratings
Pride
1996
4.08 | 501 ratings
The Visitor
1998
3.90 | 339 ratings
Immortal?
2000
4.21 | 458 ratings
Contagion
2002
3.60 | 317 ratings
Pepper's Ghost
2005
3.48 | 199 ratings
The Seventh Degree Of Separation
2011

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

3.62 | 58 ratings
Welcome To The Stage
1997
3.82 | 61 ratings
Breakfast In Biarritz
2001
4.45 | 50 ratings
Live & Life
2004
3.14 | 13 ratings
Arena: Live recorded 2011/12 tour
2013

ARENA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.86 | 39 ratings
Caught In The Act (DVD)
2003
3.82 | 49 ratings
Smoke & Mirrors
2006
4.14 | 19 ratings
Rapture
2013

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

2.95 | 63 ratings
The Cry
1997
3.34 | 18 ratings
Ten Years On 1995 - 2005
2006
3.98 | 14 ratings
Contagion Max
2014

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

2.23 | 7 ratings
Edits
1996
3.44 | 11 ratings
Welcome Back! To The Stage
1997
3.39 | 13 ratings
The Visitor (Revisited)
1999
3.38 | 8 ratings
Unlocking The Cage - 1995 - 2000
2001
2.86 | 40 ratings
Contagious
2003
2.49 | 22 ratings
Radiance
2003
3.13 | 37 ratings
Contagium
2003

ARENA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Seventh Degree Of Separation by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.48 | 199 ratings

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The Seventh Degree Of Separation
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Arena - The Seventh Degree of Seperation (2011)

On this album by Arena, a major band of the neo-progressive rock genre, we get to hear quite a lot change going on. Vocalist Rob Sowden has left the group, which I myself though was a pitty. New singer Paul Manzi has a powerful modern prog voice, much less abstract and 'somewhere out there' then Sowden's. Another major change is the style of the material, which consists of shorts songs with relatively little progressive rock dynamics and originality. A third is the modern progressive metal sound with the heavy guitars of Mitchell put on the foreground and the keyboards of progressive rock veteran Clive Nolan quite timid in the mix. The effect is a less recognizable sound for Arena, which has grown a lot towards bands like Kamelot.

Former vocalist Rob Sowden often found ways to elevate songs to a degree that I thought of albums like 'Contagion' as significantly better then that of the competition in the field. Perhaps he just hit the spot for me personally. Now singer Paul Manzi sings lines that a clearly from Arena, yet distinctively more overproduced and less in the moment of the music. Most refrains are made up of vocal notes tightly bound to the rhythm and harmony and with little fantasy or liveliness. Moreover, almost every chorus has that dubbed poppy progressive metal vocal sound, which easily becomes a bore. In the couplet themes Paul Manzi proves to be more lively and slightly aggressive, which works for me.

The short songs don't seem to be out of place in the beginning of the album, but after a while the simple tight melodies on heavy, but simple chords start to become quite uninteresting. The songs are just a bit too much like the the one before it. Exceptions are mystical 'The Ghost Walks' and the up-tempo 'Echoes of the Fall'. Most songs have some great symphonic instrumental themes, but because the lack of advanced songwriting nothing falls in its right place. Even the better tracks like before mentioned 'The Ghost Walks' would have fitted better within a multi-part progressive rock track. To make things even worse, the only longer track of the album 'Catching the Bullet' fails to impress because of apparent lack of innovation or some original hook (like for instance Opera Fanatica had).

It must however be said that the band has made a good impression on the heavy metal community, getting for instance a 90/100 from Dutch metal magazine 'Aardschok' and 87/100 from online metal magazine 'metalfan.nl'. The band has most certainly not lost any of its professional sound and musicianship. So perhaps we can conclude Arena has made an effort to win new audiences in the booming progressive and symphonic metal genre.

Conclusion. This album shows the band going into a more straightforward symphonic metal direction, which I find significantly less interesting. Three stars. Still highly recommended to fans of the progressive metal genre.

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 The Seventh Degree Of Separation by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.48 | 199 ratings

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The Seventh Degree Of Separation
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by tuxon

5 stars What a great album this is, it took me a few spins to apreciate it as much as it deserves to be apreciated. At first I just liked it because it was easy to get into and just listen and enjoy it. But after a few years of heavy rotating I still listen to it very regularly, and that has a reason. It's a very great record, it's intriging, melodic, almost popular even. Together with The Visitor and Contagion the Seventh Degree of Separation is my favourite album by Arena, and maybe it's even their best.

The best part of the album is that with each listening a little more of the beauty is revealed, like good wine it ages well over time.

The best songs are in no particular order: 1. The Great Escape (4:38) 2. Rapture (4:22) 3. One Last Au Revoir (4:34) 4. The Ghost Walks (3:19) 5. Thief Of Souls (3:52) 6. Close Your Eyes (3:25) 7. Echoes Of The Fall (2:26) 8. Bed Of Nails (4:39) 9. What If? (4;35) 10. Trebuchet (3:39) 11. Burning Down (4:29) 12. Catching The Bullet (7:42) 13. The Tinder Box (4:16) Listen in this order and completely for the best experience, oh and don't forget to put it on replay for the more listenings you get the better it gets, and of course play it loud, your neighbours deserve to hear some good music to.

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 The Seventh Degree Of Separation by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.48 | 199 ratings

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The Seventh Degree Of Separation
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by Fearabsentia

4 stars Arena-The Seventh Degree of Separation

'The Seventh Degree of Separation' is the seventh studio album by progressive rock/hard rock band Arena.

After Arena's well received 2005 rock opera 'Pepper's Ghost', it wasn't until six years later when Arena would release their next album. Upon it's release, many people were disappointed with the outcome of this album. Many complained that it was too bland and comparable to commercial hard rock, yet I find this not to be the case.

The vocalist has changed on this album, featuring vocalist Paul Manzi instead of Rob Sowden. They have very similar voices, so it doesn't change the feel of the music very much. I just felt like I had to point out this line-up change, even though it doesn't effect the music much.

This album is definitely hard rock-based, instead of the more progressive metal-leaning previous album, but that doesn't make this a weak album. Like usual, Arena gives us a powerful opener with 'The Great Escape' which shows Manzi's powerful vocals very strongly right at the start. The heavy booming guitar comes in at the perfect moment after the words 'Can Anybody Hear Me?'. 'The Ghost Walks' is another standout track, with a marching beat and a menacing atmosphere. 'Echoes of the Fall' may be only two-and-a-half minutes, but what a two-and-a-half minutes they are. This song is the heaviest song on the album, and is a metal song. The powerful fast riffing and catchy lyrics make this an instant classic for me. 'Burning Down' has a Dream Theater-like sound, so this will be of interest to fans of that band. The closing song 'The Tinder Box' is probably my favorite along with 'Echoes of the Fall'. 'The Tinder Box' is everything a closing song should be, a slow melodic beginning with great piano, a powerful steady build-up, and an epic finale.

The concept of the album is about the birth and death of the world, so it does have an overall darker tone; however, a lot of the songs and lyrics feel very empowering. Songs like 'Close Your Eyes' and 'The Tinder Box' are both songs that I feel are very empowering.

Overall, it is certainly no flawless album, there are a few forgettable tracks here and there. The very powerful songs make up for that though, and it remains my favorite Arena album. I recommend it to any fan of hard rock with some progressive qualities.

Hope you found this review helpful.

(Originally written for www.MetalMusicArchives.com on October 19th 2014.)

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 The Seventh Degree Of Separation by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.48 | 199 ratings

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The Seventh Degree Of Separation
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by Progulator

3 stars The UK band Arena needs no introduction, although I'm not sure if this is exactly a typical Arean album. Although the band is generally known for its heavy brand of neo prog, The Seventh Degree of Separation goes even a bit darker. I wouldn't call it a metal album exactly, but it comes very close. The first thing that jumped out on this strange little album was the scary album cover that somehow kind of fits the mood of the album. Overall, the album had some gargantuanly awesome parts, a few let down tracks, and some stuff that was, well, different?in a good way. The opening track to the album really hooked me with its mega- creepy mood and awesome vocals. I also really enjoyed the rhythmic talking over the slowly marching chord changes of "Ghost Walks;" not quite rapping, but something close, but well done (not like when it happens in Dream Theater). "Thief of Souls" is another track that leapt out because of the great vocals that straddle the line between neo prog and power metal with a sort of Iron Maiden sensibility. To sum it up, really great vocal melodies drive this album in a very strong direction. There is a deep sense of narrative, sorrow and tragedy in the way the singer presents the words through melody and expression. His theatrics are just right and it's paced perfectly to where you feel like he's actually speaking to you as the intended listener; "Catching the Bullet" is exemplary of this kind of feel. The Seventh Degree of Separation shows a very logical progression in the evolution of Arena's music and I believe it won't disappoint their fans.

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 Contagion Max by ARENA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
3.98 | 14 ratings

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Contagion Max
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars In 2002 Arena released Contagion - a great, dark, heavy neo-prog story-driven album. Tracks that didn't make it to CD were released as EPs. Now they have been put together and remixed. For a band with such limited commercial appeal, Arena, or, make it Clive Nolan, sure are adept at working their fan base. Getting them to finance a release of what was already available before (remix makes it clearer sound, but there isn't that much difference). But I don't mind. I like them. I was getting this mainly for the booklet. On to the additions. They are pleasant, each has at least a decent hook. But not much else. Not as developed as the original album tracks. I don't have a problem with that. The thing is that break down the flow of the songs. Whereas the original had great variation between heavy rockers, pompous ballads, some acoustic stuff and synthesizer workouts, all new tracks have the same mid tempo and make it really plodding. Since the original was great, I can't rate this lower, but neither its an improvement.

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 Contagion Max by ARENA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
3.98 | 14 ratings

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Contagion Max
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Arena - Contagion Max (2014) (fans release)

Contagion (2002) is an album I listened to while bringing newspaper as a fourteen year old kid, ten years ago. I've always had a weakspot for almost all songs on the album and I've never found a neo-prog album that was remotely as good as this one. It is just so mysterious and the combination of abstract and theatrical sounds never worked better. Futhermore, I find the vocals of Rob Sowden perfectly fitting on this album and I'd wish he'd still be around recording music with the band - albeit his performance on stage is not really 'for the poeple' to put it mildly.

This 2014 release is 2cd album with the tracks from the ep's reintegrated in the album, and as a result the overall concept of the album is enhanced and a storyline is said to appear. To be honest with you, I think all the additional tracks are of a lesser quality, with 'Vanishing Act' as an exception, and the overall album atmosphere is disrupted by the new songs that tend to have a more eighties prog sound. If I would have changed the original Contagion album, I would have rather withdrawn a few track like the perhaps misplaced electronic 'Riding the Tide'.

This is a release the band has made because it was asked to do so by the fans - who of course will find this album very rewarding. I myself will keep to the original, one of my favorites of alltime. Three stars for this release, though keep in mind that is because of my preference for the 2002 Contagion release.

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 The Seventh Degree Of Separation by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.48 | 199 ratings

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The Seventh Degree Of Separation
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I've spent lots of time with this album. All I can say is that despite all the negative assessments, this album is definitely a slow-grower. My first few listens to this album were under-whelming. I certainly could hear the talent involved, yet, I could not understand why this arrangement would be considered 'top-class' within the Neo-Prog genre, as many have claimed Arena to be... All I can say is that throughout all the songs presented here is that : yes, they are catchy, almost commercial sounding to be honest, and there are some cheesy elements involved - like repetitive choruses and riffs and an almost throwback-to-the-80's sound. The band do take a certain 'metal' approach to this offering, it is quite heavy and I have to admit that guitarist John Mitchell does steal the show, whether it be crunching metal-chords or ripping solos. I have been familiar with Arena's Neo-Prog for years, yet I was never really 'sold' on them.

Immediately noticeable is that Clive Nolan's keyboards aren't as 'widdly-widdly' as one has expected - if you want this style, just spin some Pendragon .......he constructs a certain symphonic wall of sound that permeates the entire album, it's always there, it forms an amazing atmosphere, and is quite inspired. Pointer's drumming is all one would expect from a neo-Prog band, clever and, at times, intricate, but not virtuosic, nor does it really need to be. I have to say that John Jowitt's talents on bass are put to good use (leaving IQ, for whatever reason....) he really doesn't hold himself back, his amazing bass lines run throughout the album, rumbling busily or holding stead-fast to what the song requires. New singer Paul Manzi recalls those 'big hair' Metal vocalists from the 80's. He has a strong voice, he knows about structure and complexity, and he sings with a strong passion. I am brief as I'm sure my submission will be timed out (as sometimes happens). However, there's so many superb moments amongst the 'mainstream cheese' attributed to this album. Not so much tech-instrumental display (but it's present in certain pieces), this thing is a 'vision', and it doesn't necessarily take complex times sigs (though these are present) and glistening synth solos - (again, we'll go for a Pendragon album for that, shall we ??) to serve its purpose. This pretty intense and occasionally impressive album has given me much dilemma, is it an excellent 4, or just a good 3 ??? My conclusion is that it's a 3.5 star effort pushed up to a 4, because it just 'works'...... Top tracks - One Last Au Revoir, Trebuchet and the near 8 min Catching The Bullet, of which the last half is an instrumental stretch which all Proggers wish to hear....now this is the Arena styling that deserves attention. May I also mention that the imagery found on the inner sleeves is astounding, morbid, fascinating, disturbing, yet incredibly captivating, further adding to this 'last hour of life/first hour of death' concept.... .......oh yeah, for full effect, this one is best heard at a high volume........

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 Contagion Max by ARENA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
3.98 | 14 ratings

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Contagion Max
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by Roland113
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

5 stars In my not so humble opinion . . .

Contagion Max is everything Contagion was plus more.

Back in 2002, Arena released one of the seminal Neo-Prog albums in 'Contagion'. At the time, there were more tracks that they could have included, but the band cut some material out to keep the release on a single CD. Over the next year, they released two EP's, Contagious and Contagium, that contained the missing material. For years fans have clamored for the complete Contagion, with the missing tracks.

In 2013, the band asked their fans if they'd be willing to pay for the compilation up front and started a crowd sourcing fund raiser. Well, the answer was apparently a resounding 'yes' and the dream finally became a reality.

I'm not going to review the entire album, you can see my thoughts on the Contagion reviews page. Instead, I'll be focusing on the new tracks and what is different.

For starters, there are seven tracks that were only on the two EP's, Vanishing Act, The Hour Glass, I Spy, On the Edge of Despair, Contagious, March of Time and Confrontation. These tracks have now been included in their proper order among the songs that were on the standard release.

'Vanishing Act' is a rockin' extravaganza that almost reminds me of something from the background of a video game. 'I Spy' is kind of a forgettable ballad though the Salamander nod in the solo section redeems the tune. 'March of Time' is my favorite of the new songs, Rob Sowden sounds particularly clean and up front here. All in all, there are three instrumentals and four lyrical songs that immensely help the progression of the original story.

The second difference is that the order of the songs are now as they were meant to be, 'Bitter Harvest' has been moved up considerably and 'Never Ending Night' and 'Spectre at the Feast' have been switched.

The third difference is the mix, to my ears, it sounds a little brighter on the remix, but still clean and pristine.

So, where do I rate this, five stars, that was easy. Seriously, it's one of my favorite albums, but better and with more music. If you're a casual Arena fan, then yeah, you probably don't need the remix, but if you love Arena or if you don't have the original, this is essential.

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 Arena: Live recorded 2011/12 tour by ARENA album cover Live, 2013
3.14 | 13 ratings

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Arena: Live recorded 2011/12 tour
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by Theo Verstrael

2 stars What a poor album this is! All songs are recorded separately during different shows and no attempt has been made to give this album a real live atmosphere. After each song the audience is faded out, a short silence follows and then the next song starts. Because of that this album sounds like a very cheap compilation. Combined with the less than strong rendition of some songs from their latest album 'The seventh degree of separation' and the fact that many 'classic' Arena tracks were played far better with Rob Sowden doing the vocals makes this an irrelevant album. A shame for this very nice band; they can do far better than this! Turn to their Rapture dvd which contains almost the same songs in a different running order but recordedd as a real show and stay away from this one.

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 Rapture by ARENA album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.14 | 19 ratings

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Rapture
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Arena┬┤s latest video was recorded, as expected, at the same venue in Poland, like the previous two. Nothing against that: actually the place is beautiful and the acoustics must be special, for the sound of the recordings only gets better and better with the latest technology involved. This is one of the best features of this DVD/blue ray: the words impeccable and perfect are the ones that come to mind the most when I listen to the show. I don┬┤t know if there was any studio overdubs, but it clearly sounds very natural. The Video quality is also top notch, the best so far I saw from this band, laced with some very fine light work, with the right lots of blue and shadows.

Having said that, I┬┤m not entirely convinced by either the new material from their latest product, The Seventh Degree Of Separation, nor by the perfomance of the new singer Paul Manzi. Ok, the guy is probably the best singer the band ever had, technically speaking. His vocal prowness is amazing, but not really his delivering. He is just too "nice", too "soft", if you know what I mean, lacking that gloomy, almost spooky interpretations Rob Sowden and Paul Wrightson had that fitted so well to the dark themes Arena embraces. Both previous singers had a far more dramatic approach the tunes ask for and Sowden in particular could sound specially menacing on stage, giving the lyrics a liver impact. Manzi, as much as he tries, rarely comes close to that.

And while the new material works better live than on CD, it is still not on par with their earlier stuff. Not too much, but still inferior. Fortunatly only seven tracks of that CD are performed and they are all short ones. The performances of the band members are, again technically., nearly perfect. Clive Nolan and John Mitchell have gained a few pounds since the last time I saw them on stage and sometimes I have the feeling they are not playing with the same energy they used to. However, it┬┤s good to see John Jowitt back (of IQ and Jadis fame) in the fold after a long spell.

Overall a quite enjoyable show, filled with great songs and nice perfomances. As I said before, it┬┤s their best visual and sounding DVD ever, although the interpretation of the songs is not as powerful as they used to be.

Rating: somewhere between 3 and 3,5 stars.

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