dvd & video review
You should be aware that I am not too much of a friend of direct videos or CDs. A lot of people don't understand it but I always give a couple of reasons: the first is that 90% of the material published in concert has more tricks than a movie of Stallone and have very little of "live" since, either they have never been really direct albums (Unleashed in the east of Judas Priest) or the recording studio has add, suppressed and almost modified the whole sound of the show ("A show of hands" or "Alive II"). The second reason is simpler and it is applied to 100% of the videotapes: I dont like to see in videotape a show I have not attended?. Call it envy if you want. Anyway, as the fact that a videotape of progressive rock comes out to the market is an almost unique event, I will review it.
Well, lets get into the review. In 1999 IQ had the great idea of immortalizing the concept of "Subterranea" in the show that they offered in the Dutch city of Tilburg. During "Overture" the film style remembers very much to Jethro Tull's impressive videotape of the tour A (the only one with Eddie Jobson), with images in negative while the credits of the musicians are shown. The rest of the videotape is composed visually of the show of "Subterranea", quite complete and it shows that with some imagination, drama (courtesy of Peter Nicholls), good illumination and some projections, you can achieve a result of great quality, and sense of entertainment (although we are not speaking of Kiss, U2 or Mötley Crüe).
Unfortunately, and even if they had enough cameras, the images are not as good as they could have been. Most Mike's images are carried out with inferior diagonal views, all the instrumental explosions of the musicians are not seen (or from quite far away) and there are very few appearances of the audience... so few that it seems sometimes a TV show. Also, neither the public shows their enthusiasm (hey we are speaking of rock´n´roll) and it seems sometimes that they were attending a conference more than a good show. Nevertheless, the band is full with desire to convince and Peter Nicholls shows once again that he is one of the best frontman in the progressive scene (and not progressive) world with his arsenal of suits and his easiness to introduce us inside the exciting world of "Subterranea". The rest of the band plays their role convincingly: Martin and Mike with their attitude of authentic English gentlemen and John Jowitt as a bass master and adopting a rocker attitude (as it should be). As deluxe guests and to enrich even more the final result, we have actor Michael O´Hara's stellar appearances and saxophonist Tony Wright, brilliant both in their respective roles.
Inside the world of progressive rock, in which serious faces are plentiful, it is always a good cure to see the sense of the show reinvented, of entertainment, of that which makes fans prefer to leave their house to go to a concert instead of listening to the CD in our room. As always, some illustrious veterans have to teach the new generations which is the juvenile sense of this music.
Between the double CD and this videotape I have no doubts which would I choose.