Subterranea: The Concert is exactly what the title says: a complete live rendition of IQ's masterpiece Subterranea. The track list is exactly the same as the studio album (there is not even an extra encore). Following Subterranea's release in September 1997, one question immediately arose: It's a fantastic album, but can the guys pull it off live? This document proves without a doubt they did. Actually, IQ performed the work a few times in 1998 and 1999, turning it into a full-fledged stage production with light show, projections, and an actor, getting very close to Genesis' historical production of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in 1974-1975 (minus the outrageous costumes). The performance is as perfect as can be: Peter Nicholls never fails to hit the high notes and puts extra emotion into his characters without resolving to pathos. The rich arrangements are fully reproduced: tapes are used at some points like the string introduction in "Overture" and saxophonist Tony Wright makes a guest appearance for "Capricorn," just like on the studio version. Bassist John Jowitt is more at ease with the band and seems to have a bit more fun with his parts. "Breathtaker" gets extra punch, as do "Failsafe," "Somewhere in Time" and "State of Mind," but in the latter's case it has much to do with the audience's reaction at the end of it, the first pause in the music for 50 minutes. Apart from these minor details, everything is EXACTLY the same as on the studio version and many IQ fans could be easily confused if asked to distinguish one from the other. Therefore, it is hard to give any recommendation on Subterranea: The Concert, either positive or negative. It is as good as Subterranea -- it's the same thing! That's why it is given a two-and-a-half-stars rating (whereas the studio version has five). If redundancy doesn't repel you -- otherwise stick with the studio version.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture