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ConcertsNEARfest 2005: IQ

Posted on Thursday, February 16 2006 @ 19:52:57 CST by Pete Pardo
Concert Reviews
With a new drummer in tow (Andy Edwards) and a recent album Dark Matter still fresh in people's minds, IQ made their return to the NEARfest stage, and became the first repeat performers since the start of the festival back in 1999. While for many that past appearance was more of an "event" so to speak, it is still a big deal when one of the most respected and veteran bands in the prog community makes their way to the United States, as it's something that obviously doesn't happen often if at all.

The band tore into many of their classic songs old and new, and despite a few instances where they seemed to be having sound problems on stage, the set went over very well. When speaking with bassist John Jowitt and keyboard player Martin Orford earlier in the day about their return to the festival, John offered these comments, "It's obviously a privilege to be asked back. We wonder what all the other bands did wrong! It's nice to be asked to do the first one, and it's lovely to come back and see how it's grown. The first one was well organized, but you can't stop learning, and this is obviously a very professional setup. It is clearly the main prog rock event in North America. We're very happy to be here as headliners".

The locale of Bethlehem seems to suit the band quite a bit, and it's obviously they have once again enjoyed their trip back and chance to mingle with the fans. " Well, to be fair, we're never really far away from the fans", states Orford. "One of the nice things about doing shows is mixing up with people, you know, you can never really remember where you last saw them. We're not really one of those bands that get in limos and whisks off to the hotel. We've just been down at the Brewworks with a lot of the IQ fans actually. They very kindly bought us a meal and lots of beer, which was absolutely lovely. I hope they enjoy the show, or else they are going to really feel shortchanged (all laugh). We're never one of those bands that stands apart from the people that support us".

On stage that night, the band played a few tracks from Dark Matter, namely "Sacred Ground" and "Harvest of Souls", two of the epics off the album. We asked the guys how the reaction has been so far for the latest record. "Stunning. It's one of those albums that has moved the band up a notch" proclaims Jowitt. "You know, it got a lot of awards. It got awards in Germany, Holland, UK, I think the USA, Norway, and Uzbekistan. No, I'm making that up (all laugh). The moon, several minor planets, you know. Yeah, it's really helped the profile of the band. In fact, we understand this very major magazine in Britain coming out with a prog feature that's gonna feature Dark Matter prominently. It's very positive, and it's nice at this stage in our career. We're just old fellows, we're not a boy band anymore. So we have to deliver the goods. And the reaction from people has been very universally positive". Many in attendance that night were well familiar with the music of IQ, but those new to the band were treated to a very symphonic, 70's meets 80's style of progressive rock music, with a modern twist, featuring the tasty guitar work of Mike Holmes, the theatrical vocals of Peter Nicholls, vintage keyboard sounds from Orford, and the tight rhythm section of Jowitt and Edwards.

We talked about how the new album has a similar feel to some of the bands older material from the 80's, and in hindsight is was nice to hear songs like the classics 'The Narrow Margin", "The Last Human Gateway" (sections from these songs were played that night) and 'The Wake" played alongside the new material and strong tracks from the 90's. We talked about how the music of IQ has changed over the years. "I think we've understood the things that we do well, and perhaps try out a few things that perhaps we don't do so well" recollects Orford. "It's interesting the things that you sort of feed into an album with, for instance Ever, which is a fan favorite. A lot of people dying, fairly serious people that we're related to, Jeff Mann for one, and all this really had an influence in the way the album came out. Each album that we do is effected by things that are going on in our lives at the time".

At the end of their set that Saturday night, the crowd roared, the band took their bows, and Peter Nicholls, Mike Holmes, Martin Orford, John Jowitt, and Andy Edwards took their bows. Seemingly, it was like 1999 all over again, this time on a much larger stage, in front of a much larger crowd, and with a few more years of respect for a band that just keeps getting better and shows no signs of slowing down.

Set List:
  • Sacred Ground
  • It All Stops Here
  • Leap of Faith
  • Born Brilliant
  • The Seventh House
  • No Love Lost
  • Widow's Peak
  • The Narrow Margin (middle section)
  • Guiding Light
  • Harvest of Souls
  • Awake and Nervous
  • The Last Human Gateway (middle section)
  • The Wake

Pete Pardo

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