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Arena - Smoke & Mirrors CD (album) cover





3.83 | 61 ratings

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3 stars Refreshing lack of mugging and cheap pyrotechnics.

Neo is not my favorite genres but I do enjoy sampling concerts from all bands. I am not a "fan" of Arena (yet) but I did enjoy their music and this concert in particular.

They avoid the annoying and insidious current day habit of draping a concert performance in cheap artsy visual effects. No cheesy strobes, no grainy footage, no constant lightning fast edits. A concert DVD is a historical event being captured on film/video and I think many of us would like to actually see the music being performed rather than the nonsense the visual art people come up with. In this Arena show you get some great clean video close ups of the guitar and drums so you can actually see what the hell the musicians are doing. The music is what is emphasized here, not running around the stage, jumping up and down, and mugging for the cameras. The seriousness and respect with which the musicians treat their material is returned by the polite crowd, who listen intently without constant yelling, screaming, and other mouthfoaming. They did however break into a local birthday serenade for the group when they announced it was their 10th anniversary as a band. It was a sweet moment which genuinely touched the guys I think.

So what about the music? I'm no expert on Arena so my review is more about the presentation overall than the material itself, but I found the music well performed, interesting and engaging. The singer dressed as a bit of a goofball looking like Johnny Depp in the Chocolate Factory movie but handled his vocals with passion. The guitarist blew me away with gorgeous lead parts in every song and used the flash speed solos judiciously enough that it was effective when employed. Let me repeat: GREAT guitar work in this concert! Mick Pointer was very good at the kit. My only complaint was that the bass was a little down in the mix but not enough to wreck the overall sound. The bonus features include nice interviews with the band and more live footage.

I would recommend this show to people who like *music* from their concert DVDs. Those who prefer gigantic budgeted super-shows with more emphasis on visuals than music will be bored out of their minds here. I for one prefer this type of authentic "music first" experience and if any of the lads from Arena ever happen to see this, please know that you may have picked up two more fans today simply because of your decision to present a DVD free from the artsy video-speed-edit nightmare. May other bands follow your lead!

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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