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Arena - Caught In The Act CD (album) cover





4.00 | 54 ratings

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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

Gatot | 4/5 |


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