IQ, Saturday December 14th 2002
Mean Fiddler, London, UK

By Mark Nickol

And so 'twas

And so 'twas the weeks before Christmas, and nothing was stirring in the house…apart from IQ, of course, with their now traditional (?) pre-Christmas London gig – long may it continue, I say!

Their chosen venue was a familiar one to IQ fans – the Mean Fiddler, nι LA2. This is a great little venue which suits the band well. They started their set very early as the venue transforms itself into a club later on in the evening, and, as usual for IQ, there was no support band.

The band immediately kicked off their set with the bang-up-to-date Wrong Side of Weird, moving into that old live classic SubterraneaSub. – the stand-alone version has typically ended with a 'cha cha cha'. In this case, however, we were treated to its follow-on track on the album, the superb Sleepless Incidental. This was also Peter's first chance to do some theatrics in the show, donning a blindfold for part of the song.

We returned to the here and now with Erosion off The Seventh House – I really like this song, and I feel that it works very well live – the section when the song takes off ("Everything that I came to trust...") is stunning live !

The enthusiastic crowd was then given a real old treat – including the per-song banter, Widow's Peak. It was just stunning to hear this song again live – it seemed like ages since it had last been played live, and it still sounded as fresh as in the 80's.

The band continued with Further Away – now, I know that this had been played on other dates on this tour, but as I hadn't been to any of the other gigs, this was my first chance to hear this song live. Apparently during the Ever tour, the band did try out this song but were not happy with how it sounded. Considering how fantastic it sounded tonight, that surprises me. Martin's wonderful keyboard solo was fantastic – it's not easy to play (I've tried !) – as it jumps around a lot.

After these treats the band rolled out No Love Lost and The Darkest Hour, both competently played, and then another surprise – normally reserved for encores, the band played The Wake. This is a real crowd-stomper of a track, and is always, rightly, hugely popular at gigs.

Next came one of the highlights of the show for me – Guiding Light.. I don't tend to pay much attention to the lyrics of IQ tracks, but having heard two very dear friends' own feelings and interpretations of this track, and how much it means to them, it was just a joy to listen to. This track is so beautiful, and Peter sung the beginning of it so well that the beginning and the end almost brought tears to my eyes – superb stuff.

We then had another rare treat in that golden oldie It All Stops Here – it also seemed like ages since I had heard that live !

Then came my other highlight – The Seventh House. Much as I adore the album Subterranea, I do believe that the Seventh House may well be my favourite IQ track of all time. I just find the sentiments in the song and the lyrics about those forgotten brave soldiers so incredibly moving, and I just love the music too ! Another real tear-jerker !

Anyway, the band then disappeared from the stage to be called back twice by the raucous audience – the first encore was that old Bing Crosby (?) classic Count Your Blessings – as I recall, without any other notes to back me up, I think that the band used to play this track many years ago as an encore, and, did they record it as well ? I don't think it was on either Seven Stories or Nine in a Pond is Here. This was followed by another Subterranea classic, Failsafe.

The final encore was Awake and Nervous, a great crowd-pleaser.

So, overall, another great gig from the boys with a good range of songs covering their ever-increasing years together. Although there were plenty of songs in the set, it didn't really seem that long – well, time flies when you're enjoying yourself, doesn't it !

Afterwards, well, not quite by luck, we happened to end up in the same pub as 'axe-king' Mike Holmes. Mike, as we probably all know, is mad and hilarious at the same time, and he was proudly showing off his new diver's watch to us.

I look forward to more from the boys in 2003 – a new album before the end of the year (?), really looking forward to the IQ20 DVD (now that I have my snazzy DVD player), and some more gigs perhaps ! Long live IQ !!!


Wrong Side of Weird
Sleepless Incidental
Widow's Peak
Further Away
No Love Lost
The Darkest Hour
The Wake
Guiding Light
It All Stops Here
The Seventh House

Count Your Blessings

Awake and Nervous


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