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)
ELOKO BELLA NEECHI
THE DARKEST HOUR
STRONGER THAN FRICTION
THE LAST HUMAN GATEWAY
THROUGH THE CORRIDORS
STATE OF MINE
NOTHING AT ALL
THE ENEMY SMACKS
ABOUT LAKE FIVE
AWAKE AND NERVOUS (With Status Quo’s Caroline in the middle)
STOMACH OF AN ANIMAL.
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.