Just about every event in my rather busy life conspired against me catching one of IQ’s Road Of Bones concerts much to my dismay. Work, illness you name it and it happened all at the time IQ’s gigs in the last couple of years seemed to take place. So, on hearing about the pending release of a Blu-ray disc featuring a gig they played in Zoetermeer Holland shortly after Road Of Bones was released in 2014 here at last was the perfect opportunity to see what i had missed. Scrape Across The Sky is an accurate document of a special evening at the Boerderij and was one of IQ’s now legendary Christmas shows.
Popping the disc into my trusty Oppo player i sat back after selecting 5.1 surround sound and off i went. Picture quality and camera work are first class as is the clear and no fuss menu options. a word of warning though, proceed with caution as Tim Esau’s bass pedals can easily loosen your floor boards. Subwoofers with 10″ + drivers in them may need a little adjustment. I was elated to hear again the opening gambit of Awake And Nervous always a winner to open their shows with in my eyes. In fact i thought the selection of the bands old songs included in the set was most commendable and beautifully played. Without pause for breath the opening diamond melted seamlessly into The Darkest Hour from the bands Ever album. This is a total joy to watch and showcased the dexterity of boards man Neil Durant who despite remaining as cool as a cucumber throughout the whole show earned his spurs with aplomb.
Playing the harder edged songs from Road Of Bones proved a revelation with some great rear projections (ooh err matron) and beefy guitar licks from Michael Holmes. From The Outside In and The Road Of Bones both played with vim and vigour in no small part to Tim Esau’s seismic and exciting bass and bass pedal outings. I was pleased that band elected to split the set with the Road Of Bones songs with older ones. The running order of the set list is well thought out and runs nicely. Good to see Frequency included here again beautifully executed and exciting. It had me kicking myself knowing that i had a ticket for this gig and had to cancel my trip.
Without Walls and Ocean are then played in succession making me notice that Peter Nicholls voice is the best I’ve heard it never shying away from the high notes and maintaining composure at all times. Playing Leap Of Faith from the bands Ever album The Road Of Bones part of the set was then completed with Until The End which is also included in the extras being played at the Lorelei Festival the same year. Great to to see and hear songs like Outer Limits from The Wake album played. This really does demonstrate the bands evolution though finishing the set with the title track from The Seventh House is a master stroke. Encores are again included in the special features and include Ten Million Demons taken from the special edition disc version of The Road Of Bones which due to the Christmas nature of the gig was given a seasonal feel much like the opening of the event. I notice that the use of angels wings have spread throughout the band and not confined to Michael Holmes. Fitting though that Widow’s Peak once again from The Wake was chosen as the grand finale and watched directly following the main part of the show captures the evening perfectly.
Elsewhere in the special features are the live projections used throughout the show including the encores which i notice are only a stereo soundtrack. This indicated a mainly nerd value though the imagery is rather excellent. I particularly enjoyed the conversation between Peter Nicholls and artist/designer Tony Lythgoe discussing the artwork from The Road Of Bones album in it’s many guises and its inclusion within the projections. Topped off with the obligatory photo album Scrape Across The Sky is a given necessity for iQ fans all over the globe especially those like myself who were unable to attend the initial Road Of Bones gigs. However, given the Blu-ray technology previously unexploited by the band there has never been a better time to revisit IQ or indeed discover them for the first time. Both stereo and 5.1 mixes of the soundtrack are beautifully produced by Michael Holmes and studio engineer Rob Aubrey and nicely edited. Package and art work are exemplary giving that pride of ownership feel rather than a download which although convenient loses out to the kudos of holding a quality item in your hand and enjoying the experience more.Worth every penny..
£14 plus P+P from www.iq-hq.co.uk
£20:99 from Amazon