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IQ - Forever Live CD (album) cover





3.91 | 111 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After Paul Menel's two album run with IQ following Peter Nicholls first exit from IQ, fans were unsure and misguided about what the future would hold for Mike Holmes, Paul Cook, and Martin Orford. Fortunately, in the early 90s Peter Nicholls returned to the fold as vocalist/lyricist and John Jowitt would be enlisted as the new bassist of the group. These additions to the group would make up the IQ lineup until Paul Cook left in 2005 and was replaced by Andy Edwards. Anyway, their first album, Ever, would prove to be one of the strongest IQ albums released yet, and this live release coincided with the release of that studio album and was intended to be the band's definitive live recording. The result is a highly polished and a highly produced live album that in spots seems too much like a studio album as everything about the live atmosphere seems to be missing. I will mention, though, that the playing on this album is fantastic, and it's amazing to read in the liner notes that they didn't perform well at all during the soundcheck. I can't even find a single mistake in all the playing. Still, this live collection has some classic IQ songs as well as ripping renditions of the stellar Ever material.

Split into two discs, the first opens with the title track to their second album The Wake. It's a pretty slick sounding version (without the dated synths that plagued IQ's early albums, although they were good). I won't go about talking about every track, just those that deserve mentioning. The Ever material (which at the time was brand new to the crowd) is played pretty well, with the group carrying on through even the most complicated tracks (The Darkest Hour for one), and the music is actually very close to the studio counterparts (it's amazing how crisp and vibrant they sound, almost too good for a live album). An interesting choice for inclusion were two songs from Are You Sitting Comfortably (one of the two albums to not have Nicholls at the helm vocally) played in a continuous format (as the tracks were side by side on the original album). Anyway, with Peter Nicholls on vocals (I've heard these two songs before with Menel on vocals) is an interesting thing to listen to and for the most part he completely takes everything Menel did and kicks it up a notch. Other tracks worth mentioning are the superlative epic of The Last Human Gateway (albeit it's abridged and only the middle section is played, and the ending sections gets played at the end of the show). The first disc ends with the song Fading Senses from Ever.

The second disc opens with the song The Thousand Days from The Wake, and then goes straight into Leap of Faith (which is one of the best songs on Ever). On top of the two songs played from Are You Sitting Comfortably?, there are two songs from Nonzamo from here as well, the first being the epic of the album Human Nature. For the most part it's a pretty decent song, with some melodic playing from the group and Nicholls vocals which are pretty good, if not on par with the rest of the set. The next track played is the best song on this live collection, the epic The Enemy Smacks (from their debut album, Tales from the Lush Attic). The musicianship, the vocals, the theatrics (as far as I know, Nicholls actually does some theatrics a la Peter Gabriel), everything about the song is perfect and in the live context it's just as great. The rest of the set is pretty good, with a great rendition of the ending of The Last Human Gateway finishing off the main set, and the encore being No Love Lost, which was the first song on Nonzamo. Essentially, the set list was perfect except I would have loved to have seen The Last Human Gateway played in full rather than in segments.

Overall, IQ's Forever Live is a fantastic live album that feels more like a studio recording than a live recording as there is little live ambiance and feeling, which is really why I can't give this album full marks, as well as the fact that there were a few songs that would have been great on this record (like Through the Corridors or Awake and Nervous from Tales from the Lush Attic, and definitely The Last Human Gateway in full). But other than that, I can't really complain about this live album. It's one of the better neo prog live albums I've heard, although not a masterpiece. Highly recommended for fans of IQ and fans of live albums. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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