Exposé Online banner

Arena — Pride
(Verglas VGCD004, 1996, CD)

by Mike Grimes, Published 1997-02-01

Pride Cover art

I never thought I'd see the day when Mick Pointer became a more prolific musician than his former Marillion mates. After dropping off the face of the earth for over a decade, Mick and Co. have now released two albums in two years. Wow! After a few personnel changes which brought in new members John Jowitt (IQ, Jadis, Ark, ...etc.) on bass and Paul Wrighton on vocals, Arena returns with Pride. Jowitt's ever solid bass playing fills the bottom end nicely and, unlike the previous vocalist who was more firmly rooted in the prog tradition, Wrighton's vocal style is more in the new-wave camp and reminiscent of Ultravox's Midge Ure. This vocal style actually blends quite well with the music. Parts of "Sirens" and especially "Crying for Help VII" sound almost exactly like Midge though!

While Arena has made a solid step forward in the ingredient department, the songs have less of a momentous sound than the anthemic numbers on the first album. This is unfortunate because the band is at their peak when playing those type of grandiose epics. The guitar in particular is different — way more David Gilmour mellow than before. In fact, the guitar solo on "Sirens" could be something straight out of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond." Four more mostly instrumental installments in the "Crying for Help" series appear between the other tracks, including a three minute solo a cappella piece which is about twice as long as necessary. Clive still has his lead synth and Mellotron sounding great, but the organ remains puny sounding in comparison. A few of the tunes like the opener, "Welcome to the Cage," and "Medusa" are basically straight ahead arena rock ( bad pun...) numbers. None of the tunes on Pride posses the memorable melodies of, say, "Out of the Wilderness" or "Jericho" from the debut. The trilogy that ends the album — "Fools Gold," "Crying For Help VIII," and "Sirens" — contains the strongest new material, but even these songs are a notch less interesting than anything from Songs from the Lion's Cage. The bottom line is that Pride is a good neo-prog album, but a level below their previous effort.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 11, 1996 releases

Related artist(s): Arena, Clive Nolan

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic - 2001 Live Birds – Since the moment I first heard Magnetic Flip around twenty years ago, I’ve been a fan of this band, and have followed their progress with pleasure, enjoying each new phase as much as the previous,...  (2006) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues