My favourite concerts of 2011 were the two IQ gave within the scope of their 30th anniversary. These two concerts took place on October 22 and 23 at the venue Cultuurpodium Boerderij in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands. People who read my review of this event know that I was very impressed by IQ's performances (see review). I had mostly been looking forward to the first day of the concert, because for the first time in twelve years, the band would perform their masterpiece Subterranea (1997) in its entirety. Well, IQ didn't let me down and gave a marvellous live version of this great concept album. The whole show was filmed to be released on DVD, but afterwards it seemed that the footage wasn't good enough. The second day featured songs from their back catalogue and contained many highlights. To my surprise IQ released this performance on a double-CD in their Archive Collection series, which mainly holds limited editions featuring live and rare material. Well, how lucky can you be if your favourite concert of the year has been released on CD!
While listening to the recordings of IQ30 De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Holland, 23 October 2011, I realized that the band played even better than I had in mind. I also noticed that many songs got new arrangements, something that I hadn't noticed that much during the gigs. I guess I was too much focussed on other things like taking pictures. These new arrangements make the songs sound new and fresh and give them above all a real live feel. The new musicians Tim Esau (bass, backing vocals) and Neil Durant (keyboards) were probably the main reason for giving the songs a different approach. Esau used to be the original bassist of the band from 1981 to 1989 and his return is influential as far as the rhythms are concerned. Together with drummer Paul Cook he's responsible for the strong groove that most songs got, something I like a lot. On many samples the old Mellotron choirs, flutes and strings can again be heard in full glory, just like in the old days with Martin Orford and more recently with Mark Westworth. As I already noticed during the anniversary weekend, Neil Durant proved to be an excellent keyboard player. It also struck me that most of the recordings haven't been technically refined afterwards, since the guitar parts of Mike Holmes and the vocals of Peter Nicholls sound the same as when I witnessed them. Again I couldn't discover any weak tracks or passages in their performance.
You're probably curious to know about the content of the set list of the concert and which songs were recorded for this double-CD. Well, almost all pieces performed can be heard, except for the two encores Stomach Of Animal and The Wake. I see no reason to comment on all songs separately. Just read my review of this special weekend. IQ practically played their entire debut album Tales From The Lush Attic (1983). Only My Baby Treats Me Right 'Cos I'm A Hard Lovin' Man All Night Long is missing on the album. This means that you can enjoy the complete version of The Last Human Gateway and the audience's favourite The Enemy Smacks. Even the very old tune Eloko Bella Neechi is present. At first I thought that this was a newly written excellent piece of instrumental music, but this song dates from the starting period of the band. It was used as the opening tune for the second day and holds a lot of strong Mellotron parts. This track smoothly slips into Outer Limits, which is also the case with Born Brilliant and Frequency.
One of the highlights on the album is the acoustic piano version of War Heroes followed by an outstanding rendition of Nothing At All. Another oldie, the instrumental track About Lake Five is performed as an encore in combination with Awake And Nervous. Please notice the included ' Status Que' cover. This is a regular encore piece as I observed during many other performances. On this live double album a guest musician can be heard as well, namely Jonny Griffiths, who well-played the saxophone on Human Nature and Capricorn.
People who call themselves real IQ fans can't ignore this live album, because once again you can enjoy a band in great shape playing many favourites, but also several songs that hardly ever were performed live on stage. Therefore IQ30 De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Holland, 23 October 2011 is highly recommended to all IQ devotees and to all lovers of great neo-progressive rock music.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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