Nov 19, 2011 - De Boerderij, Zoetermeer (NL)
Both the British neo-prog rockers of Arena and the Dutch prog band PBII had the same reason to enter the stage at 'De Boerderij', because both bands were promoting a new record. Arena was on tour to spotlight the new CD The Seventh Degree Of Separation, while PBII launched their new DVD PBII@BOERDERIJ.ORG.
PBIIOnly a couple of weeks earlier I had the pleasure to witness a live performance of PBII at De Pul in Uden (see review). Therefore I guessed they would perform the same show while supporting Arena and they actually did.
ArenaAccording to Paul Manzi, the band's new lead singer, it has been six and a half years since Arena did a complete tour. Only occasionally they showed up to do a live performance like the Rock Ittervoort concert in April 2008 and the show they did at De Boerderij in November 2010. This
The Great Escape, the opening piece of the new album, opened this gig as well. It started with Paul Manzi's voice only; he looked like Ronny James Dio and sounded as a mixture of Bruce Dickenson (Iron Maiden) and Damian Wilson (Threshold). Soon the other band members followed. The Great Escape is a difficult song to play live, but they managed very well without making hardly any mistakes just as on the rest of the new material. Songs as What If ?, One Last Au Revoir, Burning Down, Rapture and The Ghost Walks sounded rather strong. Sure, most people weren't familiar with the new album, because it was put on the market during this tour. To my surprise some people already sang along with the new stuff. They must have seen the band in The Netherlands at the start of the tour when they visited De Pul early November or they got an illegal download.
Unfortunately the visuals were limited to the use of cardboard figures taken from the new album. No backstage projections or slide shows at all, although the light show was done well especially during The Ghost Walks. During this fine piece John Jowitt played on his bass pedals with his arms spread as if he were crucified.
It seemed the band liked The Visitor (1998) and Contagion (2003) the best, since most of the performed tracks were taken from these albums. From the first one they did A Crack In The Ice, (Don't Forget To) Breathe, Serenity and The Visitor and from the second one the title track, The City Of Lanterns, Riding The Tides and Ascension. However, not only the musicians liked to play these songs as the audience went mad when they heard the intros. Being the singer Paul Manzi mostly stood in the spotlights of course; he's a great host who had no problem at all to keep the audience awake as he showed during the first encore Crying For Help VII. He not only introduced his fellow band members, but he also asked the audience to participate. Guitarist John Mitchell got a lot of attention as well. As always his outstanding guitar solos were a real treat to the ears especially in tracks like Serenity, the final encore Ascension, A Crack In The Ice, The Visitor and (Don't Forget To) Breathe. He even played some fragments from Still Got The Blues (Gary Moore) and Sorrow (Pink Floyd) during the encore section. Maybe this time Clive Nolan had a more supportive role; he only got his usual solo spot while performing the keyboard solo in Riding The Tides, but he certainly had a great share in the overall sound of Arena. Being the rhythm section, Pointer and Jowitt did their jobs properly keeping the songs together as if they'd been playing together for ages. This is of course not the case since Jowitt rejoined the band recently.
In conclusion I can only say that both bands gave strong performances making sure to sell enough CDs and DVDs to return home contented. I don't know to what extent John Mitchell was serious when he told the audience that no-one was allowed to leave the venue without buying a copy of The Seventh Degree Of Separation...
Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Setlist Arena:The Great Escape
A Crack In The Ice
(Don't Forget To) Breathe
The City Of Lanterns
Riding The Tide
What If ?
One Last Au Revoir
Valley Of The Kings
Crying For Help IV
The Eyes Of Lara Moon
Ghost In The Firewall
The Ghost Walks
The Tinder Box
Crying For Help VII
Pictures Arena by Arthur Haggenburg
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Line up Arena:(left to right)
bass, bass pedals, backing vocals
keyboards, backing vocals
guitars, backing vocals
Setlist PBII:Cradle To Cradle (Part One)
In The Arms Of A Gemini
Living By The Dice
Book Of Changes
Pictures PBII by Arthur Haggenburg
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Line up PBII:(left to right)
Alex van Elswijk:
Michel van Wassem:
keyboards, lead and backing vocals
guitar, backing vocals
Tom van der Meulen:
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