According to keyboardist Clive Nolan it had been 5 years, since Arena had gigged in the Netherlands.
Far too long so he said, remembering that the continental success of the band started in Holland about 15 years ago.
Former vocalist Rob Sowden appeared to be no longer available so Nolan, Mitchell, Pointer and Salmon had to find a new singer.
When rumors started to go round with the name Paul, people might have thought Paul Wrightson was coming back to the fold but it turned out to be another Paul:
Paul Manzi, among others vocalist for Oliver Wakeman's band.
In just over 3 weeks he managed to learn all lyrics from the setlist by head with just a little help from his I-pad or something like it, attached to his mic stand.
The band played tight and concentrated and one could see the guys had to find their way on the stage a bit again.
Only in the second half of the show Ian and John begun to get a little more loose.
The enthusiasm of the fully sold out Boerderij helped them out and especially when a massive response came to one of the new songs, there was laughing between the musicians on stage.
As some of the people around me said: the setlist was a rather 'safe' one with a lot of sing along tunes, but nevertheless in my opinion the band played really well.
It always surprises me how little work Mick Pointer's right foot is doing but nevertheless his foundation for the band is good enough.
Mitchell played in a superb way and had gained a little weight.
Clive too must have found some comfort in the lager or Jack Daniel's (or both) again, because he's back to his original 'big belly' size.
Strangely enough it wasn't affecting his ability to play and at the end of the show he was swinging his keyboards to and fro like he used to do many years ago.
Salmon played with ease and doesn't seem to age a bit.
Manzi's voice is a nice combination of Wrightson's and Sowden's.
Before the stage, with mainly the sound of the monitors, the sound was not particularly well balanced
and Manzi's voice could only be heard clearly in the slower and less bombastic pieces.
In my mind he seems to be fitting well and no doubt his contribution to the new album will be most interesting.
His voice seemed to be quite good and since I have never been fond of Sowden's voice I'm looking forward to that new CD.
Nolan promised to do his best to have the new album released next fall and Arena will be touring again then.
During the encores Nolan showed his gratitude and enthusiasm for the great reception the band got in Zoetermeer by leaving his keyboards and singing along with John and Ian.
Altogether the over two hours of high quality performance tastes for more and hopefully the band will return with a lot of new material
mixed with some of the tunes they didn't play for years.
A few more gigs and Manzi, who played the acoustic guitar too, will be more comfortable and I'm convinced the band made an excellent choice hiring this gifted singer!
This had been a great evening and unfortunately now the waiting for the new sign of life starts.....
Crack In The Ice
The Eyes Of Lara Moon
The Hanging Tree
State Of Grace
In The Blink Of An Eye
(Don't Forget To) Breathe
The City Of Lanterns
Riding The Tide
Cutting The Cards
Cry For Help VII