Arena - Unlocking The Cage - 1995-2000

Year of Release: 2001
Label: The Cage fan club
Catalog Number: CageCD03
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:14:00

The official Arena fan club certainly takes care of its members. In a tradition that goes back as far as The Beatles, and can now be compared to Dream Theater, The Cage sends out a special Arena X-mas disc to its members. Sometimes, in the book of prog acts, X-mas can be a little late, but when you least expect it Santa certainly knows how to find your letterbox.

After an initial 3-track set released under the name of Welcome Back! To The Stage and a full 11-track titled The Visitor ? Revisited, this time both fan club and band agreed on a retrospective, taking in five years of Arena, encompassing various line-ups, over nine tracks. The album opens with "Enter," an instrumental atmospheric piece written by Clive Nolan and meant to be used as the intro for "Moviedrome," the track with which Arena would start it's show. Dead certain to be asked back on stage the band rehearsed "Encore Medley" which contains loads of big, immortal riffs. The nice thing about this release is the fact that it contains tracks from well over five years, thus also from a period in time where very few people knew about their existence. Take "Crying for help IV," recorded in an acoustic way with John Carson on vocals, Clive on piano and Keith More on acoustic guitar. The version included here was recorded at the Marillion fan club convention way back in 1995. Over 1000 people were present and judging from the crowd's reaction they were pretty much impressed. Carson admits that the band had been rehearsing three times a day for the last three days when he introduces "Jericho," which once again is delivered in "unplugged" fashion. The harmonies are not your everyday C, S, N & Y, but they try their best.

With Clive also being the vocalist in Shadowland and writing a great deal of Arena's compositions, it will not be strange to hear that some of the Arena ideas sport Clive's vocals. Recorded at night, when everyone else was fast asleep "The Visitor" sung by Clive was recorded as a form of help for vocalist Paul Wrightson. Great Journey To The Centre Of The Earth-era Moog syntheszier as well. With a brand new live album out called Breakfast At Biarritz, the live rendition of "Don't Forget To Breathe," which was also recorded at Paradiso, does not feature on the official release. Fans will of course be delighted to finally get hold of this recording here to complete their collection. Great, fat guitar sound from John Mitchell as well. During the period that Paul Wrightson fronted the band, Arena recorded three songs as acoustic versions for radio airplay. Two are featured here in the form of "State Of Grace" and "Tears In The Rain." Not really sure whether at all these versions here are radio friendly at all. The disc closes with another Rob Sowden sung classic in the form of an acoustic version of "Friday's Dream." It was recorded at the beginning of the Immortal? tour in Holland during the band's "bonus acoustic gig," which followed the regular set. It simply illustrates why Arena have the best vocalist in their current line-up. Long may they reign!

Rumours have it that the first fan club disc is almost out of print, yet if you become a member now, there is a special deal which entitles you to all three fan club discs in one go. Now what are you waiting for?

Enter (The Moviedrone) / Encore Medley / Crying For Help IV (acoustic with John Carson) / Jericho (acoustic with John Carson) / The Visitor (Clive ghost vocal) / Don't Forget To Breathe (live with Rob) / State Of Grace (acoustic with Paul) / Tears In The Rain (acoustic with Paul) / Friday's Dream (acoustic with Rob)

Clive Nolan - keyboards, vocals
John Mitchell - guitars
Mick Pointer - drums
Rob Sowden - vocals
Ian Salmon - bass

Past members:
Keith More - guitar
John Carson - vocals
Paul Wrightson - vocals
John Jowitt - bass

Songs From The Lion's Cage (1995)
Pride (1996)
The Edits (1996, OOP)
Welcome To The Stage (1997)
The Cry (EP, 1997)
The Visitor (1998)
The Visitor - Revisited (1999) (Dutch fan club only release, OOP)
Immortal? (2000)
Unlocking The Cage - 1995-2000 (2001) (Dutch fan club only release, OOP)
Breakfast In Biarritz (2001)
Contagion (2003)
Radiance (2003) (fan club only release)
Live & Life (2004) (box set)
Pepper's Ghost (2005)
Ten Years On (2006)
The Seventh Degree Of Separation (2011)
Live 2011/12 Tour (2012)
Arena XX (2016)
Contagion Max (reissue of Contagion) (2014)
The Unquiet Sky (2015)
The Visitor - 20th Anniversary Remastered Edition (2018)
Double Vision (2018)

Caught In The Act (DVD) (2003)
Smoke And Mirrors (DVD) (2006)
Rapture (DVD) (2013)
Arena XX (DVD) (2016)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: June 13th 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 2717
Language: english


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