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(152 min DVD, Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Great Escape 2. Crack in the Ice 3. Don't Forget to Breathe 4. City of Lanterns 5. Riding the Tide 6. What If? 7. One Last Au Revoir 8. Burning Down 9. Serenity 10. Valley of the Kings 11. Crying for Help IV 12. The Eyes of Lara Moon 13. Ghost in the Firewall 14. Rapture 15. The Ghost Walks 16. Bedlam Fayre 17. The Tinder Box 18. The Visitor 19. Solomon 20. Crying for Help VII 21. Ascension
Prolusion. Formed back in 1995, the UK act ARENA was and is regarded as something of a supergroup amongst those with a taste for neo-progressive rock. Following a decade or so of growing success the band decided to take it easy for a few years following their 2005 album "Pepper's Ghost". 2011 saw the return of Arena as an active entity again, with a new album and a new line-up. "Rapture" is a DVD that documents the talents of this revitalized version of the band and was released by Metal Mind Productions in April 2013.
Analysis. Writing about these live DVDs courtesy of Metal Mind Productions is something of a dual exercise in pain and pleasure. Pleasure due to the fact that they are all good, top notch quality products through and through. The pain part of it is how to describe them without repeating myself overly much without leaving the approach of treating a live DVD as a product in its own right rather than merely taking it on as a live CD with images. Those who tend to read through the reviews on this website will without doubt find many of the descriptions below familiar. To start with the video footage, it's of the usual high quality one can expect from a Metal Mind produced DVD, sharp and clear with good coloration all across the spectrum. A number of different cameras have been employed, as usual, and we're treated to a fair number of different angles throughout. Close up footage of each musician alternating with overhead shots, full stage shots and several instances of moving camera, all assembled in a dynamic manner that keeps matters interesting with a natural flow that is easy on the mind but with the variation needed to maintain a high level of interest. As Arena is a band with a dedicated frontman in the shape of Paul Manzi, the majority of the footage hone in on him, as is natural and expected when a band have a frontman present, one of his tasks is to be that point of focus after all. The stage in Katowice's Teatr Slaski is a good one, giving the band ample room to roam about when needed. The stage lights used are more impressive for each successive year, if due to the equipment itself or due to a growing expertise in utilizing its possibilities I can't tell though. And the audience section is a stunning one as well, just looking at it adds a certain element of pomp and grandeur to the proceedings. Obviously somewhat enhanced when there's a sellout crowd as was the case on this occasion. The audio footage is just as brilliant as the video, if not even more so. In addition to this live DVD, the very same footage is used for the live CD companion release of this production. It's as good as you can get it when you're a regular artist making a live DVD rather than a multimillionaire superstar who records a concert to be sold in millions of copies I suppose. What makes or breaks such a production is the actual performance by the band itself however, and in this case I think flawless is a good word. The actual performance is excellent, and we get a keen sense of stellar band chemistry to boot. Bassist Jowitt, guitarist Mitchell and frontman Manzi are all goof around a bit in a good natures manner that speaks volumes about relations, even the apparent stoic keyboardist Nolan joins in on a few moments of a more lighthearted nature. A band that at least in the eyes of the viewer appears to have a jolly good time, and is keen to bring their audience along on that particular ride. A stellar concert with many a fine charming moment to boot. The concert itself clocks in at two hours, covering all the phases of the band's past as well as the present, as such potential buyers will get excellent value for money too. The bonus material is more of a so-so affair for this DVD, the usual interview isn't among the most interesting I've seen from this line of DVD's and the 20 minutes of footage from another concert in Poland doesn't add anything much to the total experience either. The main concert is the selling point for this production, and it is of a high enough quality to not really need any additional material to be of interest as far as I'm concerned.
Conclusion. Arena's third live DVD "Rapture" is an aptly named production, where the skills of Metal Mind as the DVD producers and Arena as the providers of the entertainment manage to combine their talents to the best possible effect. In the long line of high quality DVDs Metal Mind has made this is one of the best, if not the very best, that I've had the pleasure to cover. Well worth a check by fans of the band as well as neo-progressive rock fans in general who'd like to add a high quality DVD production to their collection.
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