IQ 'The Official IQ30 European
Weekend Celebration'

22/23 October 2011, De Boerderij, Zoetermeer (NL)

Almost every year Marillion organizes several successful weekends for their fans. Recently this idea had been taken over by Pendragon with a Mega Daze weekend in April 2011 during which their latest album Passion (see review) was released. In a way, IQ used the same idea for the celebration of their 30th anniversary. De Boerderij at Zoetermeer had been chosen to be the domain of IQ on October 22 and 23. De Boerderij is a well-known venue for the band since most of the Dutch IQ-gigs were held here.

Peter Nicholls
Probably most IQ-fans had been looking forward to day one. For the first time in twelve years the band would perform their masterpiece Subterranea (1997) in its entirety. Those who had seen the live shows of this concept album, or had watched the DVD know that this is an incredible experience to witness. Not all musicians who performed the original live shows are still members of IQ. Mike Holmes, Peter Nicholls and Paul Cook are still around, but keyboard player Martin Orford left the music business. For the recordings of Frequency (see review) and live concerts he was replaced by Mark Westworth, who now has left the band as well. He was recently replaced by Neil Durant. Sadly enough bassist John Jowitt left IQ either after being a member for nineteen years. His farewell meant that former band member Tim Esau returned. He used to be the original bassist of the band from 1981 to 1989. These line-up changes had no effect at all on the performance of Subterranea. On the contrary; the band had made sure to relive this extraordinary show in full glory.

Just like twelve years ago IQ used a large projection screen at the back of the stage and a transparent curtain to cover the stage behind which the musicians sometimes performed. Everything turned out to be exactly the same as during the first performance of Subterranea: at the start lead singer Peter Nicholls still sat behind imaginary bars, he still wore a leather bondage hood later on in the show, he still 'killed' somebody on stage and towards the end the musicians still changed their black blouses for white ones. During the show Paul 'Cookie' Cook appeared to be the driving force on stage. His drumming especially dominated the up-tempo songs. During the quiet and almost ambient pieces guitarist Mike Holmes assisted Neil Durant on keyboards. It proved that
Mike Holmes (L) and Neil Durant
Holmes is not only an excellent guitarist, but he can also handle the keyboards adequately. His guitar synthesizer effects were just brilliant. Durant did a hell of a job learning so much new material in such a short period of time. It's difficult to compare the bass playing of Tim Esau to that of John Jowitt. Esau's playing is less pretentious, but just as good as Jowitt. I couldn't discover any weak spots during the performance of this difficult stage show. It deserves a big compliment for all involved in this breathtaking show. After this exhaustive piece of progressive rock music not many people expected the band to do an encore, but they did anyway. The first encore was a fine version of No Love Lost featuring guest musician Johnny Griffiths on saxophone, who also played during the performance of Subterranea. The second encore included sublime versions of The Darkest Hour and The Wake. After the second encore Mr. Nicholls thanked everybody for showing up and he ended by saying: see you all tomorrow! Well, the first day of the 'Official IQ30 Weekend Celebration' made it already a perfect weekend with the superb live version of Subterranea. Who could have asked for more?

Day two started in the afternoon with an IQ-quiz, but I hadn't yet arrived at the venue to witness it. Just a couple of minutes before the second gig I entered the building. As usual the concert started with strong visuals at the screen at the back of the stage showing all kinds of line-up shots from their thirty-year long career. These shots were accompanied by a newly written and excellent instrumental piece called Eloko followed by a fine version of Outer Limits from the band's second album The Wake (1985). Strangely enough they continued with The Darkest Hour, the third encore of the previous day. It was again well-performed, but I would rather have heard a song they hadn't played earlier this weekend. Leap Of Faith, for instance, wasn't performed at all. A bit sad because this piece belongs to the highlights of the band's back catalogue! The next track Born Brilliant was connected to Frequency without an interruption. The Last Human Gateway, the band's first epic from their debut Tales From The Lush Attic (1983), was enthusiastically welcomed. Nowadays, IQ hardly performs the complete version of this fine piece. As far as I can recall, they last performed it in The Netherlands in 2004 at 013 in Tilburg. Next was Through The Corridors, also a piece from the band's debut that's hardly ever on the set list. This three-minute piece proves that a good prog tune doesn't have to be that long.

Paul Cook (with cake)
and Tim Esau (R)
Next the band performed three tracks from the albums with Paul Menel being their singer and frontman. Nicholls never had any problems with performing the songs from Nomzamo (1987) and Are You Sitting Comfortably (1989). Therefore songs as Human Nature - once again with Griffiths on sax - the acoustic piano version of War Heroes and the complete version of Nothing At All sounded like natural IQ-tunes. Guiding Light apparently has turned into an audience favourite since it was welcomed with a lot of cheering. It was directly followed by Closer, a fine ballad from Frequency. After that the final song of the set was announced as a cautionary tale. This could only mean that they would perform the song where most IQ fans had been waiting for: The Enemy Smacks. This piece contains a strong acting part of Peter Nicholls in which he plays a drug addict. Again Nicholls was a striking appearance during this classic piece. Many people watched him breathlessly while performing with a white mask on. He did it again! Because of this act this piece got so much extra! It finished the regular set in style.

It was obvious that the encores were used to party and again the balloons entered the venue just like the day before. IQ started the first encore with Capricorn, a track from Subterranea. Next were two rather old songs: About Lake Five from the demo Seven Stories Into Eight and Awake And Nervous from Tales From The Lush Attic. During the latter they included a Status Quo tune which was quite funny. At the screen it was visualized as Ique. Stomach Of Animal was a real surprise since it only appeared on an old demo tape called Skippy The Fish. Last track The Wake was a fine closing tune for two days of IQ. It's regarded to be one of the ultimate classic IQ songs and thus a great tune to end a gig with. After the band's excellent performance the musicians went to the venue's café where a special birthday cake was presented to celebrate the 30th anniversary. Peter Nicholls told the audience that they were ready for the next thirty years. Well, I hope we can witness this in good health for most of the fans and the musicians themselves have now become seniors who by then probably walk with a Zimmer frame... However, I guess we all have to celebrate their 35th anniversary first and hopefully just as enjoyable as this weekend! I would like to congratulate one of the best progressive rock bands around giving one of the best concerts of 2011!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Setlist Day1:

Sleepless Incidental
Speak My Name
Tunnel Vision
Infernal Chorus
King Of Fools
The Sense In Sanity
State Of Mine
Laid Low
The Other Side
Unsolid Ground
Somewhere In Time
High Waters
The Narrow Margin

No Love Lost
The Darkest Hour
The Wake

Pictures Day1 by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Setlist Day2:

Outer Limits
The Darkest Hour
Born Brilliant
The Last Human Gateway
Through The Corridors
Human Nature
War Heroes
Nothing At All
Guiding Light
The Enemy Smacks

About Lake Five
Awake And Nervous
Stomach Of Animal
The Wake

Pictures Day2 by Henri Strik

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up IQ:

(left to right, picture by Arthur Haggenburg)
Mike Holmes:
guitars, guitar synthesizer, keyboards, backing vocals
Paul Cook:
Peter Nicholls:
lead and backing vocals
Tim Esau:
bass, backing vocals
Neil Durant:
main keyboards

Guest (not on this picture):

Johnny Griffiths:

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