“Smoke & Mirrors” by Arena

Artist: Arena
Title: “Smoke & Mirrors”
Label: Music Video Distributors
Release Date: 4/25/2006
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 4.5/5

Celebrating the bands 10th Anniversary comes a wonderful concert film from Progressive Rock giants Arena. Filmed at a spacious theatre in front of an apparently sold-out crowd, the folks at Metal Mind Productions have given us another quality concert to enjoy. I have to admit going in that I hardly knew what to expect from Arena since I had never followed them before or had much exposure to their material in the ten years that they have existed. This made watching the DVD film a little sketchy for me until it began and I found myself caught in some very interesting Progressive Rock music. As a long-time fan of old Marillion, I definitely caught some similarities in the style between Arena and the Fish years for Marillion. Singer Robert Snowden is a great front man with a voice that suits the material very well. He also has a couple of costume changes during the set which bring to mind influences of Gabriel and Fish from Progressive years past and help out with the overall effect of the bands music. The music is performed to perfection by John Mitchell (guitar), Clive Nolan (keyboards), Ian Salmon (bass) and Mick Pointer (drums). Readers who were up on the band as much as I was might also find it interesting to realize that drummer Pointer was one of the early members of Marillion. Overall the music is welcome to the fans of a semi-Progressive fan, it does not go off on tangents and break into too many directions for the average listener to follow but instead melds itself with some Hard Rock feels and uses the Prog influence to raise the musicianship up a notch.

I had to stop the performance from running to return to a couple of songs that I was really enjoying with “The Hanging Tree”, “Smoke And Mirrors” and Purgatory Road” being among them. This is a highly recommended DVD and thanks to the producers for a wonderful job of it. Sound wise, and visually, this is an outstanding production and is sure to convert or win over more people like myself who were unaware of the special nature of the group. More than a substantial amount of quality material is present on this to make that the case with ease.

Bonus Features: There is also six fan shot songs from a different show with all of them being represented on the main program of the DVD. It sounds pretty good considering the means it was obtained and I am generally very critical of this type of footage. A biography, discography and interview segment as well as web links and desktop images are also included.

Song Listing:
1. Intro/Bedlam Fayre
2. A Crack In The Ice
3. Midas Vision
4. Elea
5. The Hanging Tree
6. A State Of Grace
7. (Don’t Forget To) Breathe
8. Smoke & Mirrors
9. Purgatory Road
10. Waiting For The Flood
11. Medusa
12. The Shattered Room
13. Chosen
14. Skin Game
15. Witch Hunt
16. Enemy Without
17. Solomon
18. Friday’s Dream
19. Cry VII

Official Web site: http://www.arenaband.co.uk/

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