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(140 minutes, Metal Mind Productions)
TRACK LIST: TRACK LIST: 1. The Demon Strikes 2. Rapture 3. Double Vision 4. Crack In The Ice 5. Moviedrome 6. How Did It Come to This? 7. Butterfly Man 8. Bedlam Fayre 9. Serenity 10. The Unquiet Sky 11. Traveller Beware 12. The City Of Lanterns 13. Riding The Tide 14. Hanging Tree 15. The Tinder Box 16. Solomon 17. Don't Forget To Breathe 18. Crying For Help 7 Bonus material: 1. Interview with Mick Pointer 2. Interview with Clive Nolan 3. Photo gallery 4. Discography information and desktop images LINEUP: Clive Nolan - keyboards, vocals Paul Manzi - vocals, guitars John Mitchell - guitars Kylan Amos - bass Mick Pointer - drums
Prolusion. UK band ARENA has a history that goes back to 1995, and started out as a something of a side project for Mick Pointer and Clive Nolan that at some point solidified into a band unit. They have been an ongoing entity ever since, albeit with a break for half a dozen years or so, and through changing line-ups and decades they have maintained being a high quality band throughout. "XX" is their fourth DVD release, and was released through Polish label Metal Mind Productions in 2016.
Analysis. The focus of this album is the most recent studio album by Arena at the time, "The Unquiet Sky", which was released around a fortnight after this concert video was captured. This particular tour was also a celebration of the band hitting 20 years as an active band, and both of these aspects are very much present in the concert performance as the band promotes their new album as well as revisiting their history. A particular case being the inclusion of a track that had rarely if ever been played by the band on stage previously. The music here, for those unaware of the band, is neo-progressive rock, and of the kind that does visit and use also darker moods and atmospheres, which tends to suit the lyrics for the song rather well. Guitarist Mitchell provides darker toned riffs with the same elegance that Nolan conjures up delicate keyboard details and majestic keyboards driven arrangements, and vocalist Manzi has the power and control to excel in both the gentler and the more demanding landscapes explored. Arena is a veteran unit, and even with band members that are fairly new to the band they are tight and in full control on stage. As far as live performances go, this album isn't lacking in any department as far as the performance itself goes. The venue chosen for this DVD appears to be a smaller one, and that comes with some consequences as far as enjoying such a DVD is concerned. The stage lights appears to be closer, which affects the experienced quality of the video footage, especially when the colored stage lights are used. Hence images will be a bit odd. Truly replicated by what they were on stage of course, but one of those details that is less impressive on a live DVD. Much the same is the case for the stage itself, which leaves little room for band dynamics and band interaction to be performed. This is more a case of each member having his position, and making sure not to get in the way of others. I'm fairly certain that a larger stage would have made the stage presence one rather more interesting to watch, as even vocalist Manzi is restricted to being more of a stationary figure here. As expected by a DVD that comes from Metal Mind Productions, they use a wide array of angles and multiple cameras to create an experience that is interesting to watch in general. The sometime intrusive presence of the stage lights is detrimental to this, but the DVD itself is by far a stationary item in this particular context. Which, presumably, is to the benefit of those who watch it. Two interviews and the usual band information is supplied with the extra material. The interviews are nice, as always, although it is a tad challenging to hear what the interviewer specifically asks. Both Nolan and Pointer give good answers though, that makes it apparent what the topic is, and there are certain elements here that should be rewarding for fans to hear about, despite this being the fourth DVD from this band.
Conclusion. DVD's from Metal Mind Production are usually given applause by me, as they are quality productions by and large, the greater majority of them being most impressive creations. While this is the case also this time around, the fixed elements for this DVD, being the choice of venue and the limitations this gives the capture of this concert, makes it a lesser experience than the band's previous DVD. Still a good production, with a quality performance by the band, but the DVD as a total product isn't quite as entertaining as Arena's previous DVD production "Rapture".
Progmessor: February 25th, 2018
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