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6/29/2011 9:02:12 AM

Travelling south to Leamington Spa from Teesside playing some of IQ’s vast back catalogue as we went paid off that evening of the bands 30th Anniversary show.  Many of the songs the band played that night had not been played for many years.

The Assembly Rooms in Leamington Spa is a fitting venue to hold such an event.  Beautiful architecture, a fairly large capacity hall, nice high stage surrounded by all the facilities you need to enjoy such an evening.

After collecting our free CD of remixes a vantage point was assumed and we waited for the performance to begin.

A 10pm curfew incurred by the management meant that IQ would be starting at 7.30pm prompt and prompt they were.  At 7.30pm on the dot with the familiar drones of electronica and the dimming of house lights the waiting crowd stood to attention.

Images of 30 years history of the band were projected onto the three screens counting down from 1981 to the present before the band launched into ‘Eloko Bell Neechi’ quickly followed by ‘Outer Limits’.  It was at this point that the crew’s contribution to the show became apparent.  The keyboards could be heard clearly.  Something that, in my honest opinion, had not been experienced at previous IQ gigs in the past.

This was more than just a celebration; this was a showcase of songs for the ardent of IQ fans.  A full set list can be found below. Peter Nicholls, forever the showman, managed the hecklers and quelled the lulls of Mike Holmes’ disappearances during his toilet breaks.

Tim Esau. A welcome return.

Neil Durant certainly showed his worth throughout the whole performance.  A worthy inclusion to IQ, Neil’s style, competency and enthusiasm lifted IQ’s performance to another level.  The welcome return of Tim Esau also gave a special feel to the proceedings given that it was a thirty years celebration and he was there at the very beginning.

Cookie, A man inspired.

It is very difficult to pick out high points as the whole show was rich with IQ heritage and all the fan’s favourites were played. However, The Darkest Hour, Guiding Light and Born Brilliant were played exceptionally well. Closer from the frequency album seemed to have greater clarity for some reason, indeed all of the songs played from Frequency were crisper and more enjoyable than previous performances.  It was good to hear songs like ‘War Heroes’ and ‘Stomach of an Animal’ played, rare indeed.  The latter actually closing the show as part of the encores.

Neil Durant. A welcome addition

Neil Durant earned his spurs on songs like ‘Guiding Light’ where his piano sounded deep and crisp with synth lines that demonstrated his vibrant dexterity. Whilst down in the engine room Paul Cook played his drums like a man inspired.

Mike Holmes. A man on fire!

Mike Holmes, well, he was Mike Holmes.  He played the whole gig like he was on fire.  Fans expect such vigour and vitality from him and they were not disappointed. Mike’s passion for performing live comes through in his playing which although can never be described as pedestrian moves into hyper drive in a live setting.

Peter Nicholls. Simply the best!

Closing the main part of the show was ‘The Enemy Smacks’ which was without doubt the best performance of it that I have seen and heard.  I was a little concerned about one of the band member’s children seeing scary saw-like images projected behind the band but Peter Nicholls’ performance was in a league of its own.

After the usual applause and slow hand clap the band returned to play ‘About Lake 5’, ‘Awake’ and ‘Nervous’ with Status Quo’s or should I say I-Quo’s ‘Caroline’ in the middle and concluding with the afore mentioned ‘Stomach of an Animal’ from the ‘Nine in a Pond is Here’ album.

Joined on stage by two of their entourage Pete Nicholls was presented with a 30th birthday cake whilst the party atmosphere was augmented by lots of balloons being punched around by the audience.

I, for one, was pleased to be a part of the celebrations and really glad that I made the journey to Leamington Spa. It really was a very special evening and one to be remembered. All the stops had been pulled out by both the band and the fans. This was evident by the attendance. I started an email thread the following day on ARFM’s Soundscapes show ending with ‘IQ, probably the best prog band in the world’.

After a performance like this, there is no probably about it.



The set list went as follows (Official source)



















AWAKE AND NERVOUS (With Status Quo’s Caroline in the middle)



We have it on very good authority that The wake was about to be played when it was thought best not to break the imposed curfew.











6/11/2011 12:48:27 PM

I am relieved that some bands don’t feel the need to put their feet harder down on the metal pedal to become known as a neo-prog act. I am very pleased to inform you that Mog are one such band and recorded an album that melts traditional prog ethos with interesting rhythms and lovable madness.


Drawing on their considerable experience gained with various bands from the late seventies and eighties , founder members Phil Swinburne and Lewy Richardson have created something very special to listen to. It is very uplifting to see a band putting theatre back into music.


Having witnessed Mog playing Jack The Vicar live I thought it would never lend itself to hard copy due to it’s theatrical production values. I am pleased to inform all how wrong I was. From the very outset of the album sensibly entitled “Jack, The Beginning” the journey twists turns never leaving time for boredom to set in.


“Big House” is shear joy to listen to with a bass line to die for. Indeed Gavin Bell’s bass playing throughout is rock solid and not for the faint of heart. Giving way to a chapter of the story representing Jack the Vicar’s disillusionment with war and all that goes with it “Glory War” and “War Boy” move the band into an area usually frequented by Roger Waters.


There are so many musical styles present throughout “Jack The Vicar”. You can hear traces of the damned and U2 as well as the usual prog suspects. Yes, it really is that varied. I praise the album for not being over polished and truthful. Mog have to be commended for spurning false dialect in place of originality in much the same way that The Proclaimers did all those years ago.


Holding true to their Northern roots, Mog enlisted the narration skills of Mick Crannage which adds another dimension to the delivery of the tale. It would have been very easy to have found a Richard Burton sound alike but in my view the honest earthy approach simply works a treat again making the whole project more original.


Mick Crannage’s Northern pronouncement gives way to “The Awakening” finding Mog in a more tribal groove.  After such an outing with heavy electronic percussion and almost chant the pace was lessened to make way for what is possibly the best song on the album “Mother Midnight”. On first hearing this lilting ballad the listener could be forgiven for thinking Moby had teamed up with Gerry and the pacemakers.


We are informed that Mother Midnight was indeed a witch dating back to the seventeen or eighteen hundreds. All very relevant we assure you. Hopefully we can be more clear about this when we track the boys down and get chance to interrogate them about the whole thing so watch this space. This song is far too short for our liking.


The title song is a great jaunty, music hall stomp of a piece and does justice to the albums title and concept. It is fun and light hearted adding just a little humour to the proceedings. “The Emperor” Slows things down a tad just in time for a suitable finale in “Kingdoms End” which is a suitably rousing end to a modern takes on a Victorian adventure. There is a lot of what used to be called music hall on this album. The songs are strong and very memorable. “Jack The Vicar” is an album of songs best listen to in their entirety and not in solitude. What the hell it’s all about is anyone’s guess. As soon as we find out we’ll let you know. In the meantime though, my suggestion would be to click on to Itunes and treat yourself. It’s ridiculous that you could download the whole album for less than the price of a couple of pints. Mog are in the studio working on their next album as we speak. If it’s half as good as this one you’ll find it at The Progmeister house. Check them out.





6/5/2011 1:07:33 PM

Something soon is a dark and mysterious album by Alistair Murphy aka “The Curator”. Due to him working as the curator of a museum in Cromer. This isn’t an album that you would play at a soiree or indeed find uplifting. It seems to have Noel Coward quirkiness about it not unlike caravan or Quantum Jump’s “The Séance”. I found my time with my time with this album to be very mood driven.


Much of the quality pieces give the feel of improvisational and experimental. The downbeat dream sequences are very dark indeed in some cases totally contrasted by Steve Bingham’s chirpy violin and viola playing. The production quality on the whole is excellent.


I would council anyone looking for something a bit different to listen to, seek out a copy of Something Soon. I would advise however, that the more freeform pieces such as “Stuck In Traffic” and “On The Spanish Main” be listened to having first digested the more formal compositions.


There are some great vocal harmonies courtesy of a host of angelically voiced ladies including the very talented Judy Dible Julianne Regan and Lindsey Mackie. There are some eerie sax meanderings by Laurie A’Court and all underpinned by the solid bass lines ably executed by mark Fletcher.


Jazz meets prog! Alistair Murphy has succeeded in creating a neutral canvas for his talented cohorts and himself to paint upon. I can see King Crimson fans going for this album in a big way. Like many pieces of fine art it takes a little time to appreciate and given a little credence will reward with enjoyment and appreciation.


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