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IQ Subterranea: The Concert album cover
4.29 | 92 ratings | 7 reviews | 46% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD1: (51:25)
1. Overture (4:34)
2. Provider (1:36)
3. Subterranea (5:29)
4. Sleepless Incidental (6:04)
5. Failsafe (8:37)
6. Speak My Name (3:48)
7. Tunnel Vision (7:17)
8. Infernal Chorus (4:38)
9. King of Fools (2:15)
10. Sense in Sanity (4:38)
11. State of Mine (2:29)
CD2: (49:37)
1. Laid Low (1:35)
2. Breathtaker (5:26)
3. Capricorn (5:36)
4. The Other Side (2:32)
5. Unsolid Ground (5:03)
6. Somewhere in Time (6:38)
7. High Waters (2:47)
8. The Narrow Margin (20:00)

Total Time: 101:02

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Nicholls / lead and backing vocals
- Martin Orford / keyboards, flute, backing vocals
- Mike Holmes / guitars
- John Jowitt / bass, backing vocals
- Paul Cook / drums

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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IQ Subterranea: The Concert ratings distribution

(92 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(46%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

IQ Subterranea: The Concert reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the live performance of the studio album "Subterranea". There are not really perceptible difference, maybe just that the sound is heavier. So, the review is the same as Subterranea":

WOWWWW! What a GREAT album! Please, stop pretending that this album is a "Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" clone! Apart the fact that it lasts around 100 minutes and that it is a concept album too, "Subterranea" is a totally different album.

Near 20 tracks, most of them are not epic, except "Narrow Margin", which lasts around 20 minutes. The album must preferably be listened in its entirety: there are some variations on the same theme. All the tracks have something interesting. the tracks are not extremely complex, but the ambience & atmospheres created are really pleasant and addictive, and the tracks are really progressive, never monotonous. Martin Orford uses an omnipresent organ, but, unlike MARILLION - "Brave", it never sounds outdated. He often plays addictive fresh piano parts. His ultra modern keyboards can be very floating and atmospheric, often having the New Age style, like on "Tunnel Vision", "Sense of Sanity" and "The Other Side". Many tracks are really rythmic, almost prog hard rock, followed by fresh, dreamy & emotional ambient pauses. The electric guitar is very rythmic, having many melodic solos like on the "Ever" album. There are some excellent acoustic guitars too, which are absolutely relevant with the modern & fresh overall sound. The bass is excellent, and Jowitt sometimes plays a VERY pleasant fretless bass, like on "Speak My Name" and "Capricorn". Peter Nicholls sings well, and he does not "MEOW" his voice like on the "Ever" album. Paul Cook plays excellent slow drums parts, which is really appreciated, avoiding to sound too fast for the slow rhythm: Nevertheless his parts are never dull and never simple. One must mention some great sentimental saxophone parts, like on "Capricorn", fitting VERY well with the modern IQ sound. The moving textures involved are REALLY accessible: this record is easy to listen! The tracks are not really depressing, much less than MARILLION - "Brave". All the instruments are well synchronized, and they work together, for the song, not trying to steal the show. As if all these perfect tracks were not enough, IQ managed to end it with a throbbing ultra epic masterpiece named "Narrow Margin"! This extremely well made track will remind you some parts of GENESIS (GABRIEL-era), especially "Watcher of the Skies". IQ is a band that has always progressed, and it seems they are now at their best! Finally, "Subterranea" has similitudes with the records "Ever" and "Seventh House"; however I find "Subterranea" more accessible! Definitely one of the best prog albums of the 90's.


Review by loserboy
4 stars A fews years back IQ released what I would consider one of the top progressive albums of the 90's with "Subterranea" and finally we all have the chance to hear it re-created live on this tasty little 2 CD set. Although the concert is totally designed to re-portrays the studio album we are treated to nice variations associated with live performances. Peter Nicholls voice is mesmerizing as always with his incredibly emotive yet child-like voice and poignant lyrics. Instrumentally this is 100% pure IQ sounding simply immaculate with lovely guitar fluctuations, jabbing and accentuated bass lines, killer keyboard work and some lively drum and percussive work. Couple of huge moments with the live saxophone solo on "Capricorn" , the gentle and self-reflexive ripples of "Speak My Name" and the explosive "Narrow Margin" leading the way.

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What was Peter Gabriel writing in his liner notes to the LAMB "Subterranean Homesick Dues.." in reference to Bob ylan's automatic writing excess Bringing it all back home.Well, we will never know what either Bob or Peter got in mind when writing down this stuff, but the resultat is brilliant and FUNNY. Yes, I truly find that The Lamb Lyrics are funny! Everybody seems to look for a deeper meaning, but i think a lot of the stuff are just puns. So let's see for Peter Nichols :"With a sudden grating burst of vivid light, he is wrenched lurching from his black womb into a grinding belly of chaos that envelopes him with dense eager limbs and flails him as rags on a line." Sorry feels to me like a bad case of Lamb Digesting Problems,resulting in an imagery overkill! Nevertheless, I like the record mainly the instrumental passages. It is very athmospheric and remains me of Goblin or Oldfield.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars What could be as similar to "Subterranea" than ""Subterranea Live" ? Well, I guess nothing.

I had seen here and there that Peter (Nicholls) was telling the "concept" of the album between some parts of the piece while playing live (you know like the other Peter did for "The Lamb" which I was young enough - hence old enough these days - to have seen in in concert in April 1975 in Brussels). But nothing as such here. Nothing to highlight the story of our hero called ... sorry I forgot the name of this one.

The sound is excellent, the band is playing rather well and Peter (Nicholls) does not fail by any means. So it is actually a good rendition of the studio work. A carbon copy. I just hope for the audience that, as I can testify for "The Lamb" that lots of visuals were displayed to enforce the music.

The original work was a good album (although it could have been shortened to sit on one CD only). This live rendition is on par. Most of the tracks sounding even better live. Not because of improv's (which are not welcome to play back a "concept"). No one has diverted from the original when playing such a piece live (although "The Who" did from time to time some great interpretations of their magnificent "Tommy". But I am talking here of the best concept album ever written, by far IMO).

I very much appreciate IQ live (I have seen them twice and I look forward of a third one next November), but this double live CD set doesn't bring a lot more than the studio album. Some typical studio effects are well rendered (like between "Breathtaker " and "Capricorn". But unfortunately, there won't be any explanation about the rather simplistic concept. Maybe on purpose ? I do not know.

FYI, if you are confronted with the dilemna of going for the studio or the live one : I would suggest you to go for the live performance. Anyway, the rating will be the same than the studio work : three stars.

Review by Roland113
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"Subterranea: The Concert" by IQ is one of the best live concept double albums of the past twenty years.

Ok, I realize that was a bit specific, though I'm certain there are other ones to compare it to . . . I just can't think of any at the moment.

So, after I picked up "The Seventh House" I read more about IQ on here and was immediately intrigued by the concept behind Subterranea. A man is locked in a dungeon with no contact from the beginning of his life until the beginning of the CD, at which point his cave is opened without explanation. 'Huh', I thought to myself, this is a new story. So shortly thereafter, I ran out to one of my local used CD stores and lo and behold, I found the live version of "Subterranea". I was only slightly bummed as I typically prefer studio versions, but beggars couldn't be choosers. Well, the CD was amazing enough to spur my love of IQ and as it turns out, I enjoy the mix on the live version better than the studio version. So, as I'm writing this, I'm listening to the playlist on my computer and here's what I started to write.

"The mix for the concert is pretty good, I'd give the mix an eight out of ten with points being knocked off as the lower end is a little muddled. I'm not complaining, it's just not perfect."

As I wrote that, I thought that I had never noticed how muddled it sounded, I waved it off assuming that I was just being more critical, until one of the points where I expected to hear the audience and I only heard silence. I was actually listening to the studio version. Oops.

The mix for this concert is fantastic. In general the drums and Peter Nichols voice are both clarified with a bit of well needed reverb, as such they sound much better on the live recording. With only three exceptions, every song on the live version is faster than the studio recording. This was a conscious decision as the programming on the drum machine for "The Narrow Margin" had to have been set to play at a faster tempo. The faster tempo and included crowd noise adds to the energy of the CD.

One of the first big improvements was the Michael Holmes guitar lick at the three thirty three mark of "Overture". The lick in the live recording is one of the most powerful moments of the first disc mostly due to the vastly improved guitar tone. Shortly thereafter, in "Provider" Peter Nichols makes his entrance with the chilling question, "Are you inside, Provider or am I", this is the first of many goosebump worthy moments of the concert.

The increase in tempo of "Subterranea" is an energetic improvement to the feel of the song, turning a decent song into a great one, highlighted by the vastly improved sound of Paul Cook's drums. The energy continues with "Sleepless Incidental" and on into "Failsafe", another of my personal favorites; keep your ear out for the previously mentioned Michael Holmes guitar lick at about the six minute mark. Again, the improvement of the guitar tone at the concert is apparent. "Speak My Name" is not one of my favorite tracks on the CD, but again, Peter Nichols' voice is both more up front and softer in the live version which is a vast improvement.

In "Tunnel Vision" Martin Orford plays a beautiful mood piece / solo at the five minute mark. For the studio recording, he initially used an organ that gradually fades to bells. For the concert, the organ was dropped allowing the bells to shine beautifully from the beginning of the section onward. This brings on another batch of goosebumps.

"Infernal Chorus" shows Martin Orford can play a blistering solo a la Jordan Rudess when he wants to. The increase in tempo on "King of Fools" really works with the audience clapping along only adding to the energy. "The Sense of Sanity" is the first of three almost Clive Nolanesque pieces, reminiscent of the 'Crying for Help' series of songs, only with Peter Nichols. Finally disc one ends with the rocking instrumental, "State of Mine".

Disc 2 starts with the second atmospheric keyboard interlude, "Laid Low", it's a hauntingly beautiful piano ballad by Mr. Orford with Mr. Holmes adding to the atmosphere as his guitar cries along. "Breathtaker" is a solid rocker, in the same vein of "Tunnel Vision"; keep an ear out for a precursor of "The Narrow Margin" at about the three minute mark.

"Capricorn" is the first of three songs that are at roughly the same tempo as the studio recording. Personally, the Ian Bairnson (The Alan Parson's Project) sounding guitar at the beginning of the song really starts it off on the right foot. "The Other Side" is the third of the atmospheric Orford pieces and the second song at the same tempo as the studio recording. This is a haunting and beautiful piece. "Unsolid Ground", "Somewhere In Time" and "High Waters" are kind of like an avalanche, they all begin and continue the momentum downhill leading up to the last track. One point of note, "Somewhere In Time" is the third and final track played at the same tempo as the studio recording.

Finally, we get to "The Narrow Margin" which is in the top two of my favorite IQ songs. As I've mentioned previously, the added energy of the higher tempo really adds a new edge to this song. Another goosebump moment comes at the very beginning of the song, the drum machine drones on it's electronic beat and I get chills, I can only assume it's anticipation of the next twenty minutes of bliss because the beat itself is relatively nondescript. Every time Peter Nichols cries out, "Don't know where I know you from", the added reverb of the concert just pierces through me leaving a sense of sadness as I experience the loneliness of the main character. John Jowitt and Paul Cook are at their best beginning just before the nine minute mark driving the earlier sadness away with a frenzy of energy until the maddeningly intricate rhythm just before the ten minute mark. The ten minute mark is pure goosebumps for me as Martin Orford does, arguably, his finest work playing a rhythm that continues to spin around the straight time kept by Misters Cook and Jowett. In the midst of this chaos Peter Nichols sings of the mass murder of his brethren. Chills I tell you, Chills! Again, Misters Jowitt and Holmes bring us out of the misery into another extended instrumental section with Paul Cook shining behind the band. Finally, the big ending hits, Peter Nichols sings his heart out, bemoaning the life that he was forced to experience. Finally, the rhythm section drops out allowing Peter Nichols to take the center stage one last time with the most beautiful and heart rendering part of the entire CD. The main character, bitter at having love and then loosing it retreats to his hole, asking one last time, "Provider, are you inside or am I?" before sliding the grate back over his cave, locking the real world out. In the right mood, it can bring a tear to this cynic's eye.

All in all, "Subterranea" is an amazing album and "The Narrow Margin is one of the most emotional pieces of music written in recent times. The concert recorded on these discs captures the emotion and energy of the piece better than the studio recording. This one is a no brainer, five stars.

Review by kev rowland
5 stars Ask any prog lover to name the most important concept album of the Nineties and they will come up with IQ's 'Subterranea'. When they took it on the road they amazed audiences with the use of film and also using a front projection screen where the band could be seen performing behind a screen on which images were shown. By also using an actor, with vocalist Peter Nichols playing his part to the full, the story was brought to life and the complete double album was played in its' entirety.

On 4th April 1999, the show was recorded at Tilburg in Holland and has now been released on double CD and on video. I have found it very difficult to review this. Why? Because it is just so good and it is impossible to convey in words just what this package is like. There is an explanatory booklet in both CD and video, giving details of the story and containing many photos. The film and the live almost seems to merge, with the specially shot footage giving way to Peter sat on the stage. There is no talking between the individual songs, so that there is no distraction from the story or effect.

IQ have used dramatic camera angles and technology to add to the overall impression of what was going on. At times the stage seemed very small for all that was taking place, but with films sometimes behind the band, and sometimes in front, along with extremely dramatic lighting, it is really no surprise. The viewer is taken along for the ride, and the result is one of the most dramatic and invigorating concert videos I have ever seen. The music has to be something very special indeed to be able to lift the band above all of the effects and be more than bit players, but it is all here in a glorious cohesion of strength and beauty.

Originally appeared in Feedback #60

Review by Warthur
5 stars IQ's epic 100 minute double album Subterranea was already one of their major accomplishments, and one of the things which is impressive about it is how they were able to perform the entire monster live on the supporting tour. Whilst they don't radically retool anything, there's an overall harder and heavier approach to the material here, and a few sonic differences here and there, but by and large they're able to deliver a musical experience largely reminiscent of the studio album.

What changes have been made suggest that they aren't content to merely let the compositions sit, but are always thinking of ways to add different flourishes and touches here and there, so there's enough variation that the live album is worth it if you enjoyed the studio album, and it's difficult not to be impressed by the band's ability to pull the whole package off live.

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