IQ - April8th, 1998
Subterranea live at Paradiso,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
By Ed Sander

Note: I will not describe the whole Subterranea show in detail in this review. I already wrote a very extensive description for the Tilburg show in 1997. It's available at the Local Resources page of The Lush Attic. I will however discuss the changes that have been made to the show since last year.

When people started coming in the Paradiso the rolled down gauze screen proudly showed the blue album cover of Subterranea. At a quarter past nine the lights went out and the tape with the sounds of the tuning orchestra was started. The 'Subterranean Experience' had begun.

During the afternoon the band had explained that they would use the film projector which was present at Paradiso, instead of their own projector. Crew member Andy was delighted by this piece of equipment because it was much more powerful. You could easily notice this during the gig, especially during projections of footage on the white sheet behind the band.
All projections were much clearer than last year at the Noorderligt show. The projector was so powerful that it 'shot' the images right through the gauze screen on the backdrop. Fortunately, this was not very distracting.

During the afternoon I also noticed that the distortion which is used with the footage is added 'live' during the concert and is not present on the original footage. Although the distortion works quite well to represent the 'attack on the senses', I did think that too much distortion was added during some sequences. I've seen some undistorted pieces of film during the rehearsals and as far as I'm concerned the concept works better if you can actually see what the footage is showing.
For instance, during the opening track Overture a lot of distortion was added to the closing scenes where Pete is running through the halls of a building. I did not remember seeing this before in Tilburg, but I did notice that the added distortion made the result hard to follow.

At the sound of the opening door in Provider a light beam shone on Pete from above, while he looked up and shielded his eyes with his arm.

Afterwards, some people complained about the sound during the opening songs. The band did not have as much time to sound check as they had last November, but as far as I'm concerned the sound downstairs in the arena was perfect after a couple of minutes. Thumbs up for sound engineer Rob !

The organ parts of Sleepless Incidental and Failsafe worked very well in Paradiso, which used to be a small church.

During the closing section of Sleepless Incidental Mike's guitar sound fell out. It took a couple of minutes before the problem was fixed. Altough this took away some of the strength of the performance it fortnately was the only major problem during the show. The rest of the gig went very well and some people who had seen several shows later said that it was the best Subterranea performance they had been to.
Although the 'surprise effect' wasn't there anymore because I'd seen it before, I myself found the show even better than the Tilburg show. Several parts which had been rather 'bare' because of the lack of theatrics and film effect had been enhanced.

For instance, during Tunnel Vision new footage was used which showed Pete being pushed from side to side, as if he was being rolled over in a wooden box. During the part of the song where John's heavy bass comes in, an oscillator wave was projected on the backdrop. It showed the sound waves of John's bass. (see photo) Very nice !

During Infernal Chorus a new bit of acting had been added. Pete came on stage wearing a creepy leather mask. After the words 'finally where you belong !' the light went out for a second and when the band continued Tour Manager Jim Plumridge had jumped on the walkway behind the band, fully dressed in black. Jim played Mockenrue's henchman who followed the experiments to see how they reacted to the outside world. While Jim moved his arms up and down as if he was pulling the string attached to Pete's arms, Pete himself twisted and moved at the front of the stage, still looking at the audience. Very effective.
Jim jumped down on stage and after a short struggle he revealed the name of his boss to Pete, before being killed. Brilliant !
During the day it was mentioned how ironic it was that a band gets to kill the tour manager on stage ! ;-)

Thanks to the powerful projector, Pete's head showed extremely clear on the gauze screen during King of Fools.
Whereas Pete had sung Sense in Sanity at the side of the stage in Tilburg, he was now sitting in a director's chair on the walkway. Some people in the audience were not patient enough to listen to this beautiful piece and went to get some extra beers at the bar.

I also noticed some extra film footage and slides (like one of a big female eye) during Unsolid Ground and Somewhere in Time (walking crowds of people), while the latter also used the projected oscillator wave again.

Film footage of the leather mask had been added to the fire sequence of The Narrow Margin. At the end of the song, where the protagonist is the only one to come out of the fire alive, footage of Pete was projected on the backdrop in a position of crucifixion. The messiah who had delivered Mockenrue's experiments now went back into his confinement.

Applause roared. People screamed their enthusiasm out loud. It had been a marvellous perfomance.

The band came back several times and played Awake and Nervous, Leap of Faith, The Wake, Last Human Gateway (middle section) and Out of Nowhere/Mamma Mia as encores, as well as two short 'cha cha cha versions' of Came Down.
During Mamma Mia several crew members came on stage to act silly and join the band in a bit of dancing and jumping around. I love these bits where the band shows how much fun they are having on stage.

Then the band left again and a text was projected on the backdrop 'This show has been brought to you by the letters I and Q' and some other typical IQ gibberish. After this the words 'Now .... Go ... Home .... Please !' flashed on the screen. The crowd laughed but immediately made it very clear that they hadn't had enough yet.
The band gave in to the pressure and came back one more time to do Widow's Peak.

Something I did find rather strange was the fact that they did not grab the chance to play a track from the recently re-recorded and re-released Seven Stories into Ninety Eight. That would have been a very good promotion for the 'new' album.

After a while, the band came out in the hall and a tape with house music (probably one of Mike's) was played. The remaining fans, band members and crew jumped around and had lots of fun.

After thanking the band and a couple of beers with UK representative Sam and USA representative John I went back to the hotel.

What a night !


Awake and Nervous

[Came Down - cha cha cha version]
Leap of Faith
The Wake

The Last Human Gateway (middle section)
Out of Nowhere - Mamma Mia - Out of Nowhere

[Came Down - cha cha cha version]
Widow's Peak

(All photos Bart Jan van der Vorst) 


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