IQ (April 1999)

Date of Performance: April 4, 1999
Venue: 013, Tilburg, NL

IQ; (c) Mark HughesAfter live recordings had already been made available on the album Living Proof featuring the 1985 line-up, IQ also put some live renditions on their J'ai Polette d'Arnu album. The showcase for their 1993 album Ever went one step further when the band thought of also filming the concert for posterity. On the 12th June 1993 the Stadthalle in Kleve, Germany, was found to be the ideal location to put the most interesting IQ audio and visuals onto tape. The band booked the venue for two days. The first day, all of the material would be set up, whilst on the second day there would be a "dress rehearsal," followed by a soundcheck, and ending with the actual concert. After the first day though, it became obvious that not enough time was available. Unprepared, the camera team had to solve one problem after the other. Nerves got to the band members, resulting in the pulling of "Further Away" from the setlist. That decision obviously gave the band wings and that night IQ gave one of their very best performances ever!

Subterranea (1997)The financial implications of such a venture unfortunately meant that the planned boxed-set including 2CDs and video wasn't released until 1996. Tapes had gone missing, and because this release meant the end of a certain period in the band's history, IQ wanted everything to be superb. In the meantime, the band had grown and a year later IQ released the prestigious double album Subterranea. In brief, the story is about an experiment in which a person is placed in solitary confinement and banned from all contact with society. When he is released, he encounters one thing after the other, constantly being spied upon by those who "invented" the experiment. After loads of confrontations, all musically recorded in crystal-clear precision, our "test object" returns, by his own will, to his isolation. The "darkness" of this story comes across as very theatrical when done live, almost exaggerated at times. By using a special stage set, slides, and film, Subterranea becomes one hell of an adventure, yet something the band can't continue to do live for the rest of their lives. Forever Live (1996) Just like Forever Live meant the end of a certain era, IQ wanted to bring Subterranea to a close by means of a live video. Although the band will continue to play excerpts from the album, they had been doing Subterranea as a whole for eighteen months. A video would be a nice memento.

It was during a concert with John Wetton, as part of the Lokerse Feesten in Belgium, when Martin Orford started putting certain pieces of the jigsaw together. Martin supported Wetton on keyboards, and in Lokeren the concert was transmitted onto huge screens which were placed around the field. Martin immediately noticed the professional end result and got in touch with the company responsible. That company was Video Line from Ichtegem in Belgium. When it became clear that IQ was planning a new video, Easter 1999 was proposed as a date (after Marillion it was IQ's turn to do something with Easter!). As a location, the brand new venue 013 in Tilburg, Holland was found, a venue filled to the rim with the latest technical developments. A couple of days before the actual filming we called Video Line representative Kris Maertens. "Video Line is a professional company specialized in the projection of major outdoor festivals onto giant screens. So far we mainly transmit the actual concert without recording it for use on video. We are known for our work during festivals such as Marktrock, Gentse and Lokerese Feesten, without any doubt the major summer outdoor activities in Belgium. To this point video culture is practically unknown in Belgium (a video clip easily costs $200,000, which for our local artists is way above their budget), but due to the arrival of the new TV-channel The Music Factory, it looks as if new activities in the world of video are coming our way. With this in mind we thought the challenge with IQ would be good PR for us. With the end result of Kleve as a tool, naturally IQ was very aware of what certainly had to be avoided at all cost.

The band's gig of Subterranea at the Astoria in London was recorded on video and send to us so we knew how the show worked. With this video we managed to write the storyboard which we all talked about in detail with the band the day prior to the concert. We will have no less than five different cameras, being one mobile camera, one camera crane, one steady drum camera, one longshot and one medium shot camera. The scenery, lights and effects are for the band to take care of. Also the sound recording will be done by someone else, although we have a sound signal on our digital Betacam recorders. Recording sound and image separately gives the band more scope in order to correct certain things in the studio. Easter Sunday we are going to unload our material at 6 am, set everything up by 10 am and have a full rehearsal in the afternoon. For us the most important thing is to have sufficient light. You have to know that show-light is not the same as TV-light ! It's going to be a challenge but we sure want to take the plunge !"

To have everything perfect, the band has also slotted in saxophone player Tony Wright, plus a friend of the band who will perform a certain part before being "killed" by [Peter] Nicholls.Peter Nicholls - vox Extra lights have been rented and Steve, the man responsible for the audio recording, is sweating like hell. "I have no less than five Tascam digital eight tracks at my disposal. There are three DA-38s and two DA-88s. Apart from the serial number there's very little difference between them. In all, I get 40 digital channels at my fingertips. The five machines are synchronized so that the time codes continue to run on all five machines. What I urgently need are those bloody time codes!" Steve wanders in the dark building, looking for Kris Maertens who needs to give him those time codes. Urgently!

Tension is building up in the new 013 building which only opened in November last year. In all it has three venues, the largest of which holds 2200 people, whilst the smaller venues have a capacity of 400. The man responsible for the monitor's mix explains. "Everything we use for 013 has been bought new. In the old Noorderligt venue, the existing PA has been slightly modified so that it can still be used. 013 is probably the best-equipped venue in Holland at this moment. Fact is, Amsterdam is rather jealous because their own Paradiso only holds around 1200 people. Tonight is not the first time we record a concert. A while ago we recorded Underworld, apart from some local bands. In the building we also have five rehearsal rooms. Our diary is packed with interesting concerts. Normally last Friday Robbie Williams should've gigged together with Terrorvision. Sadly the concert had to be postponed due to illness, so now it'll happen on September 12th. Yesterday we had Fun Lovin Criminals, whilst on 26th April we expect Kula Shaker. Then on 13th June we'll have Pendragon. The bands simply love the 'loading dock' which enables the truck to unload the material straight from the truck on to the stage area."

Meanwhile, I'm wandering in the corridors that still haven't seen any graffiti. I wonder for how long! I have been able to get my hands on the schedule for the day, which looks something like this :

6 am - arrival light crew
10 am - arrival film crew
11 am - arrival 013 crew
12 am - arrival band backline
1 pm - lunch
3 pm - video setup
7 pm - doors open
8 pm - showtime

By now it's 7pm and the band is trying to find their dressing room, head between shoulders. I ask Martin Orford to spare me five minutes. "Musically everything's OK, but what worries me are all those people whom I don't know. They will all have to work together at the same time. Especially the camera crane frightens me, as it literally moves only inches away from the screen over and over again. It doesn't take long before he will rip the screen to pieces, meaning we'll have to stop all visuals! I'm not happy with it!' Backstage, Rob Aubrey and Steve have some problems in plugging-in the various Tascams and the mixing desk. Suddenly all signals seem to have vanished resulting in a small panic. Right at the same moment John Jowitt passes by. "The band itself plays perfect, but for our standards this is way out of our league, way too expensive with too many different factors that can spoil the entire event. I'll only be happy once it's all over, but then again: ''we'll do it again next week'", he jokes!

With a little delay, the last showing of Subterranea as a whole kicks off at 8.30 pm. Half an hour into the set everything suddenly stops, the house lights go on, and we are told that one of the spots has failed. Because light is so damn necessary for the recording of the video they decide to mend it. The band thinks it'll only take five minutes and asks the audience for requests whilst Mike Holmes plays a cowboy tune. The medley "Out Of Nowhere" / "Mama Mia" envelopes the enthusiastic crowd. IQ has covered the weirdest songs in its past, which probably has something to do with that typical British humour. I remember a similar medley (including the Abba classic) was played on 17th may 1997 in the Palace Theatre in Newark. Most people seem to enjoy it, although there are some prog-purists who are not too keen on the Abba inclusion. Nicholls informs us that the lights have to come off completely, which means the show will be done all over again in half an hour's time. A white Easter bunny takes the stage, throwing Easter eggs into the audience. With all this fuss one could forget it was Easter!

As expected IQ delivers Subterranea perfectly, with loads of theatrical sidesteps from Nicholls and the superb colouring of the saxophone by Tony Wright. The show is over. The band members bow and you can see on their faces they are very happy it's all over. The stress clearly is gone. The audience asks for more and from that point IQ let go of the brakes. "Human Nature" fills the hall, including a magnificent rendition by Tony Wright. The audience wants more and more. The Wake (1985) "The Wake" is heavily applauded, as is "Awake and Nervous." For the third time the band is asked to leave the dressing room for an encore. A short bossa nova kind of thing introduces the final song for the night in the form of "Widow's Peak."Tales From The Lush Attic (1983) A perfect ending for a remarkable night.

Backstage, frowned eyebrows have given way to smiling faces. Sweaty bodies embrace each other as if they haven't seen each other for many years. Mike Holmes is the first I can get to talk. "Because it's a very theatrical piece and because each time it's a very expensive venture to do this live, we thought it would be a good idea to release it as a video. With this video IQ fans all over the world can now see how the project looked live because people in countries such as South America, Australia and Japan can't spend their entire wages on a flight to Europe in order to see Subterranea live. In June we are going to America where we were supposed to do Subterranea live [NEARfest 1999]. The people who organize the gig would normally have paid for most of the production cost. Unfortunately those costs are too high. The screen we need to project the images has been made especially for us. You can't buy it anywhere in the world ! So normally we would have to fly this thing over! Knowing that there're another three bands on stage that day and knowing the venue only holds about 450 people, there's no way you can ask $500 a ticket! Meanwhile the venue has been sold out and as the headliner we are going to do a 'normal' set including our regular highlights and some excerpts from Subterranea. Next to the band, the crew for Subterranea consists of 13 extra people; we have to hire extra equipment, extra lights. After our concert in America we will fly to South America where we will perform in Chili and Argentina. Also in those countries people won't be able to see all of Subterranea, so for all those people the video will be God's gift. I hope the video will be ready by then so we can take some copies with us. I have an appointment with Video Line on May 1st to do the final editing."

The Lost Attic (1999) In only a week's time Video Line has managed to deliver a 'rough mix' of the video. Compared with the Kleve recording, it is already certain that the quality of this video is way above that of the Kleve concert. Martin lets us in on the planning. "We hope to have the video out by September. Our first priority certainly is the video. The encores we did tonight won't be used for the video. So it'll be the entire recording of Subterranea only. I can't really say whether at all there will be a live CD. Maybe there will be, maybe there won't be. However it is dead certain there will be no box-set this time around. The box-set was such an expensive venture that we won't repeat that one again. If we do a live CD, then it'll be a double one that will probably include tonight's encores. Meanwhile, we have released a "rarities" CD [The Lost Attic] filled with rare recordings from the band's rich history. We also hope to start the recording of our new studio album very soon which will certainly be a single CD. We simply feel the current IQ is doing very well. The band members work well together, the new compositions come along fast, and we all love playing as IQ. We have taken Subterranea on the road for eighteen months so I guess all of the band will agree: it's time to do something completely new!"

Added: January 23rd 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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