Arena Reviews

Also see Progfest '97 ~ Baja Prog '99 ~ Clive Nolan

Bookmarks: Immortal?

From: Bjorn Lynne
> I recently acquired my first Arena CD, actually because I had read something about the group on this list. My question is: Is this a "real" group, or is it a product of studio technology? I'll explain further. When reading the liner notes [to "Songs from the Lion's Cage] I spotted that most of the instruments were recorded at different locations. One of the locations being Arena Studios. I fully intend to buy more Arena CDs, having enjoyed the first so much. But I wondered if the line-up will change on each album.
Arena are indeed a "real" band. I have seen them live twice, and they are better live than they are on CD. So they are not just about twiddling buttons. The thing with changing line-up all the time I think has a lot to do with Clive Nolan's ideas about how the band should work - basically Arena is Clive's band, and it is my impression that there is very little room for cooperation within the band when it comes to songwriting. Some previous members of the band have felt stepped on because of this (Clive won't use their material, only his own), and so there have been a lot of friction with  in the band. However it is my understanding that the new band members that have come in have been told up front that this is how it works, and if they have a major problem with this, they shouldn't join. I still think the first Arena album is the best, although the new one is good as well (the one in between was a bit weak). IMO of course.

From: Robin Stierkat
ARENA are a real band, but the line-up changes on every CD. On the newest one "The visitor" I think they've found their line-up for the next time, I think. All the albums a highly recommended, especially when you are a fan of Marillion-style music. Have a look at their fanclub's homepage at: or their own homepage at:

From: Richard Stockwell"
I assume what you mean by "real group" is 1/Are they the same musos on other Arena releases and 2/Do they tour. Firstly the bands releases are as follows (in release order): Songs From The Lions Cage, Pride, The Cry, Welcome To The Stage (Live Recording), The Visitor. The following members have been on all Arena releases: Clive Nolan (Keyboards) & Mick Pointer (Drums). John Jowitt (Bass) appeared on all releases except "Songs From The Lions Cage" John Jowitt is also the bass player for IQ and now combines working for both bands. Paul Wrightson (Vocals) has appeared on every release since "Songs ..." Keith More (Guitars) was on "Songs.. & Pride. Since then John Mitchell has been the permanent guitarist.
So the answer to your question is that Arena are a fulltime lineup since after "Songs From The Lions Cage". The band also tours and have been through Europe, The USA and are set to tour Sth America.

From: Elias Granillo, Jr.
Paul (Wrightson) came in on _Pride_. _Songs..._ was sung in its entirety by John Carson, who was booted out immediately afterward :-)  Steve Rothery of Marillion plays lead guitar on "Crying For Help IV" and on a newer version of that song (different recorded guitar track!) called "Only Child" on _The Cry_. The line-up I saw at ProgFest '97 were the current one of Wrightson/Nolan/Mitchell/Jowitt/Pointer. Arena thank Andy Pickford in the *thanks* sections of both booklets for _Songs_ and _Pride_. I asked Picko if he knew the band (on the GoldTri list), and he'd never heard of them, even re-posting later what their name was again so he could thank them in his forthcoming release.

From: Ian Moffatt
Don't mean to be pedantic but Arena DO NOT have the same line up on 'Pride' and 'The Visitor'. Guitarist for 'The Visitor' and now firmly entrenched in the band is John Mitchell. He has a more heavy rock background than Mick Pointer or Clive Nolan. It's due to the writing input of the two John's, Mitchell and Jowitt, that Arena have taken this slightly different (and IMHO better sounding) direction.

From: "upnsm0ke" <>
I'm not sure how many folks on this list listen to Arena (which features keysman extraordinaire Clive Nolan, Mick Pointer, and IQ bassist John Jowitt), but they've parted ways with vocalist Paul Wrightson (their 2nd; their 1st was John Carson, who sang only on their very first album, SftLC). The new voxman is Rob Sowden of Sweden, brought forth by acquaintance with axeman John Mitchell. I really liked Paul's vocals (and also J. Carson's), yet evidently the band are very excited to have Rob aboard.

From: "Stephen McAdams" <>
Yes, I heard the news about Paul leaving Arena a few days ago, and was shocked.  I just saw Arena in Mexico about 3 weeks ago.  Paul was fantastic, I am so sorry to see him go.  Arena is about the bigest Neo-Prog band in the world right now.  I just hope they are as good with another new vocalist.  I guess Clive Nolan really does control this band.

I think that Arena are a great band (although neo-prog is how they are usually described). Clive Nolan is a great keyboard player and a really nice guy as well. I think Visitor is a great album - Their live album is really good as well. Nolan also has a number of other releases - Shadowland are similar but slightly darker (perhaps even better) - 3 CD's (Clive also sings), Stranger's on a Train are lighter and more a type of musical based music (Tracy Hitchings sings) and then there is the new venture with Oliver Wakeman (featuring Rick as well) Jabberwocky is a really good CD as well. Of course Clive plays Keys for Pendragon as well ! JJ the bass player is an enigma - he is also IQ's bass player - buy Subterrannea if you don't already have it ! and he plays bass for Jadis, his new offshoot is called Mink and I believe he is making a solo album at the moment - another really nice guy. I guess you know the drummer is Mick Pointer wh use to play drums for Marillion, the guitarist also has a solo album out but this is not progressive. If you want any of these CD's Verglas are online and you can talk to Clive himself via E - he'll probably sign your CD's for you if you ask him.

From: "Bjorn Lynne" <>
Okay... strictly my opinion of course, but it is shared by many Arena fans: 1) "The Visitor" is their best album. 2) "Welcome to the Cage" was also good. 3) They've done a few others (I have all of it), but all the other stuff isn't that good. Get "Welcome to the Cage", and since you already have "The Visitor", then you'll have the two really good ones. Anything else you get after that is probably going to disappoint you.

From: Salmacis <>
You may want to try "Songs from the Lion's Cage" or "Pride", the first 2 albums. Both are very nice, containing all the beautiful "Crying for Help" bits. I believe there is also a compilation cd of just those bits as well, but stick to the full albums, there are some great tracks. Neither of the discs compare to "The Visitor", for me, though. It is definitely my fav. As for their live disc, can't remember the name offhand... perhaps that is the "Welcome to the Cage" thing you are talking about (which is also the name of the first track on "Pride")...

From: "upnsm0ke" <>
I don't think he'd be disappointed by their first one, _Songs From The Lion's Cage_, a great disc, regardless of John Carson's Fishlike vox. Btw, are you guys referring to _Pride_ or _Welcome To The STAGE_? "Welcome To TheCage" is the opening track on _Pride_

From: > <> album? Good? Bad? In between? How does it compare to 'The Visitor'?>  It's decent, the new singer is a fair copy of the last...the songs are > quite > similar in style to the Visitor...but for some reason, at least thus far it can't replace The Visitor in my book as the best Arena album yet...

From: "Stephen & JoAnn Ellis" <>  I'll take the other view. It really sounds nothing "like" The Visitor".  Immortal? hits like a wall of Hammond's and keeps the edge all the way through.  Not sure the 'idea' behind it all just yet but it does rock. I like all their stuff and probably ('cause it was the one I got first) like their first best, but Immortal? is close 2nd.

From: RAM <>  I don't know "The Visitor" album yet, but the "Immortal" is plain > fantastic.  I guess I gotta get "The Visitor" too...