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As Good As It Gets!,
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This review is from: Arena: Live (2011/2012 Tour) (Audio CD)
I have been a fan of Arena for many a year and have loved pretty much everything that has been recorded by them but funnily enough, have never managed to get to see them in the flesh, something always cropping up to prevent that most magical of evenings! But, if I have to take second best, then this double CD dishes out their most superlative, sophisticated take on prog rock that you will find anywhere - it's an absolute stunner and, moreover, is recorded so well that it's verging on the studio renditions!
From the outset, the band prove that they can hold their own with any prog outfit, either in their songwriting or, indeed in their prowess with their chosen instrument and whether running numbers from their last studio effort (the excellent THE SEVENTH DEGREE OF SEPERATION) or tracking through their extensive back catalogue, every number is given the full melodic treatment that is the unmistakeable sound of Arena.
The "new boy" Paul Manzi has slotted so well into the band that it's hard to believe that he hasn't been there since the beginning. Clive Nolan continues to produce his understated, yet at times, soaring keyboards while John Mitchell plays as only John Mitchell can with infills and runs that sometimes defy dexterity, truly, one of the most under-rated axe players that this country has yet produced!(Witness "SERENITY" and you'll see precisely what I mean - understated and beautiful with a capital B!). And, of course, Messrs Jowitt and Pointer punch the proceedings along with their powerful and strident understanding of rythmn.
Indeed all the Arena big hitters are pretty much here in this neat little package, so that if you only ever buy one live prog rock album, make absolutely sure that it's this one - you'll not regret it!