This is the latest in IQ’s ongoing live series called The Archive Collection. The aim of these limited edition releases (available only via their website and at gigs) is to give the band the finance to carry on doing what they do.
They’ve been doing it this way for some 15 years, and while the focus is on fundraising, nonetheless there’s never any question that quality is paramount. On The Road Of Bones is more evidence of IQ’s dedication to the highest standard.
It was recorded at The Met in Bury, which is clearly a haven for the band, and captures them in peerless form on a tour to promote their sterling 2014 album, The Road Of Bones. Inevitably, all five tracks from it are featured, and provide a strong spine for the music. While the original studio recordings were impressive, here they spring to life with an assured composure. It’s as if the band have got to know the intricacies and idiosyncracies of the music from playing it repeatedly on tour, and now have a better appreciation of the way it all holds together.
A brilliant representation of this replete band onstage.
The intro’s taken from the iconic 1931 Dracula movie, as Bela Lugosi extols the virtues of the “children of the night”. The band then sweep into a powerful rendition of Sacred Sound, before Outer Limits purposefully builds across a sheenof sumptuous keyboards from Neil Durant.
From The Outside In gives the first indication of The Road Of Bones material, with Peter Nicholls’ pining vocals spinning out a luminous story. This is again obvious on that album’s title track itself and also Without Walls, the latter leaning against a spiralling concourse of emotions from the former.
It’s a shame that Ocean doesn’t follow straight on, as it would be a fitting musical connection. However, Without Walls ends the first CD, leaving Ocean to open the second one. But while the magical atmosphere is temporarily broken, it is soon back on track, with Mike Holmes’ elevating guitar patterns leading the band into this poised excursion, before Durant’s keyboard provide a wash of opaque consciousness on Ryker Skies. Guiding Light, meanwhile, has that haunting refrain underpinned by a stately melody.
Until The End is the final chime from the Road Of Bones LP, while Out Of Nowhere is an upbeat echo back to the early 90s, even featuring a brief refrain from Abba’s Mamma Mia!, and it all climaxes with The Wake, a welcome glance back to the mid-80s, when IQ were once seemingly set for a stellar career.
Clearly left intact from the night, with no overdubs, On The Road Of Bones is a quite brilliant representation of this replete band onstage. If you’re not going to an IQ show any time soon, you can get it at through their online shop.