IQ have been at the forefront of home-grown progressive rock since the release of their debut album ‘Tales From The Lush Attic’ in 1983.
They first came to my attention in 1989 (oh God, was it that long ago?) with the brilliant ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ and from there onwards I was hooked – nobody quite does prog like IQ.
Having said all this, it is to my eternal shame that their sold-out gig at The Met in Bury was the first time I had managed to catch them live – though, in my defence, IQ are hardly renowned for the frequency of their live performances.
In fact, on the night, this scarcity of live appearances manifested itself by giving the impression of being less a gig, more a gathering of the faithful – with the worshippers all correctly attired in the appropriate t-shirt garnered from a previous prostration at the altar of IQ.
The Met appears to be the only venue north of Wolverhampton that the band regularly visit, indeed, Peter Nicholls, mesmeric frontman of the band, confirmed as such by greeting the crowd with “welcome to the North of England”…
With yet another gem of an album to promote in 2015, a good slab of tonight’s gig was dedicated to ‘The Road Of Bones’ album, with five tracks showcased and a demonstration that IQ just keep getting better.
Sure, some of the subject matter is very dark, but then it always has been with IQ as Nicholls says as he introduces the title track (about a serial killer) “what do you expect – this is an IQ gig!”.
If you have never been to an IQ gig I think the word that best describes it is ‘intense’ – not only the showmanship and vocal stylings of Peter Nicholls but also the gothic keyboard playing of Neil Durant which occasionally sent shivers through the audience.
Top this off with the metronomic drumming of Paul Cook, the rock-solid bass of Tim Esau and the exceptional fretwork of Mike Holmes and a stunning listening experience is guaranteed.
From the opening J S Bach-alike rumbling organ intro of ‘Sacred Sound’ to the anthemic finale of ‘Headlong’ (one of three tracks from 1985’s ‘The Wake’ album) the faithful were held spellbound -sheer professionalism and peerless musicianship coupled with a charismatic frontman is a recipe for success and tonight’s experience, for that’s what it was, demonstrated that however you measure ‘success’, IQ have it in spades.
The first of two encores ‘Out Of Nowhere’ nicely segued into a great version of Abba’s ‘Mama Mia’ – brilliant!
And all this for £14 (including a free glow-stick on entry) – what more could you want?
Review by Alan Jones
Setlist: Sacred Sound, Outer Limits, From The Outside In, Born Brilliant, The Road Of Bones, Without Walls, Ocean, Ryker Skies, Guiding Light, Until The End, Headlong.
Encore: Out Of Nowhere / Mama Mia 2nd. Encore: The Wake
Alan sequences “The Eclectic Mix” on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, third Sunday of the month at 16:00. Expect some prog.
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
Power Plays w/c 11 November (Mon-Fri)
MILES NIELSEN AND THE RUSTED HEARTS Hands Up (indie)
THE FARGO RAILROAD COMPANY Something In The Water (indie)
THE DARK ELEMENT If I Had A Heart (Frontiers)
LIBERTY LIES A Thousand People (indie)
DIRTY SHIRLEY Here Comes The King (Frontiers)
CARRY THE CROWN Runaway (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 11 November (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 WORK OF ART Exhibits (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SIGN X Like A Fire (Pride & Joy Music)
14:00-16:00 JACK BROADBENT Moonshine Blue (Creature Records)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)
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