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Arena - Rapture CD (album) cover





4.08 | 38 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Seventh heaven

It must have been quite a day on 10th of November in the Silesian Theatre in Katowice, Poland. Three of the finest prog bands around today, Arena, Believe and Osada Vida, performed live with all three gigs being recorded for release on DVD.

"Rapture" captures Arena's performance, the gig forming part of their tour to promote their latest album "The Seventh degree of separation". Rather than simply playing the new album in full, the band decided to intersperse the new songs with a wide selection of numbers from their entire history. Simultaneously, the tour served to introduce new lead singer Paul Manzi and to reintroduce bassist John Jowitt who has rejoined the line up.

With the gig running to around 2 hours, over 20 songs are included in the performance, including (appropriately) seven from the new album. Mazni's voice suits both the new and the old material perfectly, with selections from albums such as "The visitor" and "Contagion" sounding fresh but reassuringly familiar. Every album from the band's history is covered, going right back to "Songs from the lions' cage" which contributes "Valley of the kings" and the magnificent "Solomon", still a highlight of the set. The set list is loosely laid out as the tracks appear on the albums, with the songs which introduce the original albums coming up front and the closing tracks forming the latter part of the concert. This gives the DVD a feeling of continuity, although it can be a little disconcerting when a familiar song does not lead to the expected successor.

The five man line up are in great form, and clearly enjoying the experience of playing together to an appreciative audience. Despite his relentless commitment to numerous projects Clive Nolan is full of energy, his keyboards at times balancing precariously as he leads the band towards another crescendo. John Mitchell's lead guitar has never sounded finer, his solo at the end of the title track of "The visitor" still drawing a tear, such is the emotion of the piece. He also adds an unexpected solo to "Ascension" that only serves to make the song even more powerful.

Mick Pointer ensures that the band is as tight as ever, his dry wit coming to the fore as he teases the interviewer on the accompanying interview with Clive and Mick. John Jowitt looks as if he never left the band, assuming his former position with a relaxed authority. He obviously derives particular pleasure performing the songs he originally played on from "Pride" and "The visitor".

On a technical front, we have all witnessed DVD's where the crew were not aware of the band's music, resulting in poor direction and inappropriate effects. It is easy though to overlook when things are done right. Here the director, the crew and the editor have clearly done their homework, with the DVD showing each member of the band at the appropriate time while capturing the atmosphere created by the knowledgeable audience. The experience the behind the scenes team have gathered through filming many great concerts in Katowice in recent years means DVDs such as this become presentations others can only aspire to.

The DVD is presented in 2.0 and 5.1 sound and comes in a fine Digipack cover with artwork similar to that of the recent album. Also included is a 20 minute "bootleg" film of the band live in Warsaw, Poland from the same tour, photos, discography and desktop images.

In summary, a magnificent performance by a great band capture perfectly. With the limited opportunities available to see the band worldwide, I would commend this as a very worthy alternative.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |


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