Messrs Nolan and Pointer remain the unswerving backbone of an outfit that has consistently straddled the neo-prog, pomp and hard-rock camps. This bumper double live album was recorded with the most recent studio line-up during their extensive Seventh Degree Of Separation tour.
Given the expansive track listing and the crafted performances here, it’s hard to give specific praise. Apart from the anthemic choruses on offer, (Ascension is majestic, and they couldn’t leave a venue alive without playing Crying For Help VII), of interest are those tracks which depart from the formula slightly, such as the edgy and brooding Ghost In The Firewall, gorgeous guitar showcase Serenity and the keyboard workout of Ride The Tide.
Also, there are no fewer than seven tracks from Seventh Degree included, with Rapture a punchy standout. However, taken from the same tour as last year’s live Rapture DVD, the track list here contains exactly the same songs bar one, so the target audience is a little unclear.
Live encapsulates Arena’s career very comprehensively. It’s a good starting point for newbies, and a must for completists, but other fans might want to think twice.