A return to Leamington Spa for Curry and Pendragon – and a portion of IQ too!

Normally the Curry-Heute write up appears before the Gig, but not tonight.  Marg and Hector were set for a Curry just after 18.00.  The plan was to collect the tickets from The Assembly, the venue in Leamington Spa but on arrival there was a queue.  It became apparent that there would be an early kick-off, but as usual nobody can ever give a definitive schedule.

Paul Menel Band

It was March 17, 1989, when I last saw Paul Menel perform with IQ.  Tonight the Support could easily have been a Headline Act.

We entered the hall and within ten minutes The Paul Menel Band, or tonight’s configuration thereof, took the stage.  Paul Menel was accompanied this evening by Martin Orford (keyboards), both are former IQ members, the latter having only left in the last three years.  Paul Menel featured as vocalist on the third and fourth IQ albums back in the late 1980s.  Eventually IQ split only to reform and record the mighty Ever and Subterranea albums.  Paul Menel disappeared into obscurity.

Tonight’s set featured the songs from these two classic IQ albums – Nonzamo and Are You Sitting Comfortably as well as featuring two non IQ tracks.

No Love Lost was performed as a duet before Steve Harris (Ark) took to the stage with his guitar for Promises and Nonzamo.  A new Menel song – Ray of Hope interrupted the IQ Nostalgia-Fest, and then an acoustic guitar was brought on.  Could this mean the intro to what remains one of Hector’s all time favourite tracks … the opening notes confirmed Common Ground … this was worth the trip from Glasgow alone.  Hector is not big on lyrics, however this song is an exception.

Company ‘A’ to Company ‘B’ “Morale is high here, sir, but I don’t think it’s safe to go” Company ‘A’ from Company ‘B’ “Mister you have your orders and you must obey” So the first line rose, and the first line fell And a poet who survived later wrote about A “Sunlit vision of Hell”

Steve’s own interpretation of the guitar outro gave the song a new slant.  If one has never heard this, it is on the Nonzamo album.

A Martin Orford composition, Chair then followed and sounded more IQ-like than some IQ material.  Still Life in a blues rhythm completed a fine set, or I wish it had.  For some inexplicable reason we had to stand through Comfortably Numb as the closer.  When one has written material of the strength of War Heroes, Wurench and Nothing at All, why play this?

(Thanks to Steve Harris for providing the set list)


The changeover between the bands was minimal.  The word had gone round by now that we were all to be out by 22.00.  Pendragon were on stage by 19.30 so a full set was in the offing, but not the three hours we were treated to at the same venue a couple of years back.

Passion and Empathy were played sequentially at the start.  This had not been the case on last year’s tour as presumably this much new material at the start of a set could prove difficult.  But come on, we are all die hard Pendragon fans, here to show our appreciation for the music and witness the only gig this year in the UK.

A Man of Nomadic Traits (Not of This World) was followed by Alaska from the very first album The Jewel.  Nick likes to mix the old with the new and ensure the set always stays fresh. Back to the Passion album and the track that has won all the awards in the last year Green and Pleasant Land.

The first of only two tracks from the previous album – Pure began without introduction.  Freak Show is superb and is only upstaged by the track which closed the main set. Skara Brae and Your Black Heart (both Passion) completed the new material. Nostradamus (Window of Life) is always used mid-set to get everyone bouncing again after a quiet ending to a song.

Nick Barrett has composed two pieces of music that any man would proud of: Breaking the Spell (Window of Life) and Indigo (Pure) were played to close the main set.  Twenty minutes and more of sheer pleasure.  Hector’s favourite Pendragon tracks, one after the other.  It was worth the drive from Scotland, oh, I’ve written that already.

The banter between the songs is very much Nick chatting with his mates.  ‘Are there any Germans in the crowd?’

‘Nein!’   ‘Nein!’   Nein!’

There was a Polish guy who blocked Marg’s view so she moved to the side. This was seconds before the Bier started to fly.  What is it about my Tegernsee fleece that attracts Bier?   Hector was soaked.

The encores were World’s End (Not of This World) and Masters of Illusion (Masquerade Overture).  It could have been any two of over a dozen choices such is the quality of the music of Pendragon.

Nick left us with ‘See you when the next album comes out.’

Same time next year?

(Thanks to Rachel Wilce for providing the set list)

This was Marg’s third Pendragon concert in England plus a couple now in Glasgow.  Last time we stayed behind to meet The Chaps, but Curry was calling.

This is a Curry Blog!

The area around Leamington Spa Station has an abundance of venues to choose from.  King Baba was the choice – the décor and ambience was more appealing to Marg.  On his own, Hector would have been in at least one of the Cafes.

After last night’s disappointment in Appleby there was a feeling that anything would be better.  The menu had an array of Balti dishes.   Marg chose the Lamb Balti Rogan Josh and I went for the Lamb Karahi Balti with Aloo and specifically no Capsicum.  There was a nice touch to the menu where for an extra £2.50 one could add any combination of vegetables to one’s dish.  This is a great idea, I hope others read this and consider it as the way ahead.    As last Saturday’s discussion at Yadgar will confirm man cannot enjoy Curry with meat alone – bring on the Interesting Vegetable!

Two Chapattis and one Garlic Nan were the Accompaniments.  Marg was taking no chances either after the miniscule offerings the night before.

When the meals arrived there was instantaneous gratification.  These looked like Curry!  The first dip revealed all that is Curry.  A wonderful, but minimal Masala and the tenderest of Lamb.  The flavours emerged and satisfaction was once again achieved. The added Potato and the Onion slices gave great diversity.  This was a very good Curry.

Marg’s Rogan Josh disappeared quickly too.  I was permitted the last piece of Lamb, another fine dish.

I made my pleasure known to the Chap who cleared the plates, there was a positive reaction to this.

The Bill

£27.35.  With two soft drinks this was exactly what we would pay in Glasgow.

The Aftermath

The Calling Card was received and I could sense the other staff taking interest.  I promised a good write up – here it is.  I can certainly recommend King Baba in Leamington Spa.  Hector will return, one day.

Now for a short drive to Coventry where the only affordable hotel room in the area was located.

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