October 7th2022 Arena, Metropool in Hengelo


After almost five years of waiting it was finally time, I could see my favourite band live again and with a new fantastic singer who has been one of the very best in the genre for years. It's nice to feel that tension and expectation again before a concert. It was my 13th Arena concert and I got to see all the singers associated with the band live. Fortunately, I received the new album in reasonable time, so that I was able to listen to that new masterpiece several times. (click on the button below to read my review) Moreover, Hengelo is only a fifteen minute drive for me (us, my wife was also with me) so this sum had to lead to a great evening. Spoiler, it was!

It was difficult to estimate how many people would come and to be honest I was afraid a bit but luckily it was not bad at all. The hall was not completely sold out, but it was nicely filled, with an estimated four to five hundred people.

I hoped to hear some of the new songs but also a few of the older favourites wirth Damian on vocals. Well I got a big part of what I wanted. A shame they didn't play Under the Microscope, my favourite song of the new album.

The beginning was impressive and Damian Wilson showed from the first note why he is so acclaimed. What a super throat that man has, and just as good live as on record. As expected they began with Time Capsule and what a start that was.The sound wasn't quite right at the beginning, Clive Nolan's keys were hard to hear and the bass pedals didn't have the impact you want to hear yet. However, this was quickly adjusted and there is also a big compliment to be handed out, the volume was perfect. Hard enough to feel it in your stomach but not disturbing to your ears. Very important because that is certainly not always the case. I shall not mention all of the songs they played and I surely missed a few but when they played The Visitor and The Butterfly Man Damian proved that these songs can even sound better.

There was chosen for a range of songs in which almost all albums were covered, with certainly enough room for The Visitor. And as was to be expected, Damian provides added value to all “old” songs and that makes him the dreamed of singer of Arena for me. Point out, as we say in Holland! After the last gig in De Boerderij in Zoetermeer I heard that Mitchell was allowed to play Serenity and I would have loved to hear it live again but I had to make choices. And ofcourse Solomon was on the setlist and that is always a treat. Sorry for the people standing around me, I am definitely not a great singer but my volume was quite high I'm afraid. The Tinder Box was played but without Catching the Bullet before it and I think that would have been better.

The stage and lighting were fine and fit a band of Arena's stature, which is simply not Pink Floyd or Genesis. By the way, I don't always find those mega shows more beautiful than what I often see with the lesser known bands. In the end it's all about the music. Otherwise I'd go to musicals and I'll never do that again.(Once went to the Lion King, yikes)

Mick Pointer, great legs man, did what he had to do and, together with bassist Kylan Amos, provided the tight basis for Nolan but especially John Mitchell. He was allowed to excel again and what a pleasure it is to see him at work even if he made a few minor mistakes. The men have really “grown together”. Sorry, I had to make that. One after the other emotional and seething solo sang it's way around the hall and that is what I miss a bit on The Theory of molecular Inheritance. Nolan clearly stayed a bit more in the background and Wilson took over the role of frontman with gusto. He was (almost too) enthusiastic, but that was also entertaining. He linked the songs together with the necessary humour and let's be honest, that's quite nice in between the heavy songs. Considering the fact that the last albums tend more and more towards heavier and shorter songs, this was also clearly noticeable in the choice of material played. Personally, I would like to see and hear some more resting points in the show or short instrumental parts. (as they did later) After all, there are plenty of them in the repertoire. I also believe that they will play even tighter at the end of the tour. I heared that was the case in Zoetermeer. In total, the entire concert lasted an hour and three quarters and that is a decent playing time.

I do have to say a few things though.

If you go to a concert but don't think it's that special, don't stand in front and only film and take pictures. For the band but also for enthusiastic visitors it is a lot nicer if they look at an interested audience than people who are not absorbed in the music. Of course everyone has the right to a place in the front, but then do something and don't stand there looking like a bag of salt and lurking at the clock all the time. But there was also a lady that really went for it and I loved to see that. Passion. I missed that in a big part of the audience and the singing was not as I’m used to at Arena concerts. That probably is typically Twents and I dare say that because I am Twents too. Sorry again for all the people that stood before me, I am not Damian but have to sing along.

I also understand that people want to take a picture and that's fine with me, but filming half the concert with a phone is just not done. And definitely don't put all those videos on facebook. Think of the people who are still going. I didn't take any pictures during the concert myself, but I was allowed to use some pictures of Petra Kobro  and Menno von Brücken-Fock for which many thanks.

Then a big compliment to the band. I read in advance that the band would not be available for a meet & greet after the concert because…… well, we all know. But they did come out and took the time to speak to all people that stayed and signing the bought merchandise. Talking of merchandise, I planned to buy a t-shirt but to be honest I did not like the chosen design that much. Sorry. But all formats of the new album were available and the deluxe earbook was for sale for € 40,00. I just had to buy it although I already have the standard cd. So I supported the band a little and they deserve that. The men really took the time and in this day and age that is so uncommon but so important. Compliments guys! Damian was as charming as ever and proved himself to be a real frontman in this aspect too.

Now I don’t have tickets for the Boerderij gig on the 29th of October but maybe I should go and treat myself on another great evening. ( I could not make it after all, sad)  If there are still tickets of course. For those who are in doubt, if you can spare the money in these difficult times, do yourself a favour and go see this incredible band. ( Sold Out in Zoetermeer!)