Wednesday, August 27, 2014

KT Opening Night

So it all happened last night. The big wait over. The Goddess of British music, female song writing and vocal genius, ended her live silence, and boy did she do it in style.

Understated as ever, her name doesn't even appear on the front of the former Hammersmith Apollo, now Eventim Apollo. Instead the subtle KT Fellowship (the K and T combined to form a symbol reminiscent of her old KT Bush Band logo) was used, and Before the Dawn, the title of her showcase work was centre and huge, putting parcel once again to the fact that for Kate it is all about the story, not about her. She is simply the vessel the stories flow through and come from. Though telling that to the thousands of fans would be like telling superhero fans that Lycra was obsolete.

The buzz was immense. You really felt a part of something. Camera crews, journalists, giddy fans and people who were clearly just getting in on the experience, crowded every inch of the Apollo. The merchandise stand was about fifteen people deep and twelve people across, and I heard from the guys sitting next to us - who had incidentally travelled all the way from San Francisco - that they queued forty minutes for their merchandise and then the woman serving didn't know anything by name, she asked them to point at stuff. Come on people. It's not hard to learn the names of ten things.

Anyhoo, they luckily scanned the tickets and didn't rip off stubs, as those of us fortunate enough to buy from eventim, received the beautiful art work tickets and I don't know about anyone else but I didn't want them to be damaged in any way shape or form. So that was nice. Two intact tickets and they had my name on too.

For anyone reading this who has yet to see the mighty Bush, there may be a few spoilers but I will try not to give too much away, especially as I think I'll blog after each show, and I have three more to go. What I will say is this: on the tickets it says show starts at 7.45pm. It does! Be there on time, or you will miss it. There is no support, not that anyone could possibly herald the stage before her. No one is worthy enough for that, but it's not like one of those gigs where you know they're only coming on at 9pm, so you just rock up at 8.30pm. Not this lady. She's giving you a full show, plus interval, and you don't want to miss a thing!

The atmosphere was almost a combination of wonder, doubt and hysteria. I don't mean doubt at her abilities, just a sort of doubt that this was even happening, like somehow we were all encased in a beautifully surreal dream, with Katie as the protagonist. Always the 'enigma', it was no wonder the hype surrounding this opening gig. No one knew quite what to expect - in true Kate Bush fashion - except those who read their programmes before it started. I would vote against this. Just let yourself be blown away.

And so, at a little after 7.45pm, with the band already on and playing, here marcheth on stage a mature, confident, Kate, to a standing ovation, which continued after the first few songs and various other points in the show. She wore all the hallmarks of mother and wife - incidentally her son and husband were on stage with her throughout - but also that spark of years gone by, never lost. All that energy and creativity that set her apart from so many others. The innovation she pushed through her work but that also allowed her work to progress, came to a culmination here, as finally it seemed technology had caught up with the mind of Kate Bush, allowing her to bring her thoughts, ideas and imaginings of the past thirty years to life.

You could see her, almost desperate to break into a full Kate Bush dance routine, but she suppressed it, yet still couldn't keep still. Movement for Kate will always be part and parcel of her music. There isn't one without the other, they simply exist together, along with visual representation, lyric and melody. They are several worlds colliding and overlapping, all encased within a beautiful presentation box: Ms Bush herself.

Costumes complimented not only her characters, but also the mood, and her need for movement and visual representation. Whether it was a swinging tassel, or a fixed on wing, she was something else, someone else, she was one with the music and it with her. Whether it was bird calls, or melodious laughter, screams, whispers or gut wrenching cries, her voice was phenomenal! Thirty years away from live performing has done absolutely nothing to harm her confidence, vocal beauty and strength, or her sheer bravery to do anything and everything to get across her story.

No one could ever conceive something like Before the Dawn. No one. Because if they could, she wouldn't be The Kate Bush. The pioneer - and somewhat understated pioneer - of British music, female song writing, combiner of dance, mime and theatre, vocal acrobat and visual genius. Yes I am biased, as a huge fan, but this was not a greatest hits night. Far from it. Bush performed not a single work from her first four albums, concentrating on Hounds of Love onwards, her more mature works and probably ones now that she most identifies with. Besides she had already toured the first two albums in mucho Lycra in the late seventies. Those were done. 2014 was about show casing her works that never made it to the stage, works that she had clearly been imagining for up to thirty years.

I wrote my BA (hons) dissertation on Kate Bush and the way narrative infused her seminal album Hounds of Love. I unfortunately did not have the word count to also explore her concept side of the album: The Ninth Wave, something which has weighed on my mind ever since. But not as much as her need to see the concept visualised and on stage, must have weighed on hers. See it how Kate sees it, if you're lucky enough to have tickets. And if not, then buy the live DVD, it's gonna be mega!

Well, I think that's all I'll say for now. It was a very personal experience for me, just to be in the same room as her was enough, but to see and hear and experience Before the Dawn was actually something I'm still processing. Let's see how showing number two will fare in six days. "I'm coming, coming, coming honey."
Always nice to end with a lyric quote. (Kate Bush, The Wedding List from the album Never for Ever 1980)

Not even remotely a rant, but a very honoured bitter northerner, to have been in the presence of such a legend. Roll on number two, three and four. Katie you rock!

Thank you for reading.


Saturday, August 16, 2014


So today was the day after a successful night. I catered a dinner party for seven (including me), which for anyone that knows me, will realise what a huge thing that is. I cooked three courses, didn't poison anyone (that I've heard) and I kept all the mess contained to the kitchen. I even stopped drinking around 10pm so that I could rehydrate enough to attend my ninth parkrun at Hampstead Heath this morning. With one charity run left in September, I really needed to be back on course with the training.

So, I got up early, did the washing up, checked emails and left for the run. Thankfully temperatures were much lower than two weeks ago when I went, and I was thinking maybe I could start creeping back towards the 29.40 times I was sporting a few months ago.

Amazingly when I got there they said new for this week they had a 30 minute pacer. Awesome. I thought I would keep her in my sights and try and get as close to that 30 minute mark that had been alluding me for weeks.

So the whole of the race she's behind me, and I'm thinking I'm on fire. Boo ya! And other self congratulatory things. I quite happily followed 'grey t-shirt guy' for about 4.5kms then ambled up the hill to the finish, which I must point out is an evil uphill, followed by a final killer incline and then finally a downhill to the finish. And I'm over the moon because I'm thinking I'm under 30 minutes. Whoop!

So as I struggle up the final killer incline, right on my shoulder is 30 minute lady. I turned to her and screamed, NO! And she encouraged me past her. I somehow found the strength to sprint to the finish, out of breath, beetroot red, but finishing before the 30 minute lady. Well chuffed!

I even had a conversation with 'grey t-shirt guy', which is good for me. The social side of the event doesn't come naturally to me. But I set off home wearing a chufty badge and thinking I'd done my fastest time since they changed the course from route A to route B.

Well, imagine my surprise an hour and a half later, when my result says 30.28. Say what? I finished in front of the frickin' pacer and by a good few seconds. So it seems they hired a pacer, who not only can't pace, but also can't time herself. And so many people will think they did better than they actually did because of that.
I just don't understand. Either the timers are wrong, or the pacer is wrong, or the 30 minute mark is feckin' laughing at me, pulling it's tongue out saying I'll never re-claim it.

I think from now on, I'm going to ignore anyone who says pacer, and time myself on my Ipod, or get a new watch or something, because that today was bloody bullshit. Not happy.



Little addition: Annoyingly, I would have been well happy with 30.28 if you'd told me I would run that this morning, but when you're given the illusion that you've run over 30 seconds faster, that time is a smack in the face.

That's all.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Things You Find Under the Couch......

Things you find under the couch, versus things you wish you'd find under the couch.

This week has been a discovery week at Flat 19. All sorts of things have been showing up underneath the couch; things lost for a while, things trying to escape, things you never even realised were there.

Baking Beads.
For those of you that don't know, baking beads are used in the making of pastry and pies. They are ceramic balls that stop the pastry rising. Yesterday A found two under the couch. I can't even remember the last time I used them, so I haven't a clue how long they've been festering in the darkness. Poor things. At least the oven has a light, if somewhat large temperatures.

The Apple TV Remote.
Anyone with an Apple TV will know just how thin and tiny the remote is. It can slip down the crack of a sofa with ease and can disappear for weeks at a time. We have a sofa bed but leave the bed bit out most of the time. It's only usually when we close it that these things appear, like a shiny silver treat.

Loose Change.
Yes, this one's a given, but when you have a boyfriend like A who literally sheds coins, loose change is everywhere. And it's not always pence, it could be euro cents, dimes and nickels or whatever other currency has been changing hands.

Ah, the rogue pea. A staple of couch dinners. The inevitability of that green ball running off your plate and anywhere it can get. But finding the dried crusty ones god knows how long afterwards, goes to show they really do try to escape. It is not just your inability to get them in your mouth without dropping them, they have an ulterior motive.

Okay, so those are what we did find. Know here is what I wish we'd found:

More than loose change.
Okay, again, obvious. But a few quid, or the odd fifty pound note wouldn't go amiss. Come on magic sofa. Produce. Produce.

A doorway to Narnia/ Back entrance to Hogwarts. 
I can dream. I can dream. Why should it always be a mirror, or a wardrobe, or a train platform? Climbing under a sofa would be completely uncomfortable and slightly claustrophobic, but it wouldn't last long because then you'd be in the fantasy world of your choice. I can dream!

A first edition Jane Austen.
Or something else of extreme value. I mean anything trumps a dried up old pea, but you get where I'm going with this.

That thing you lost and never found.
The black hole you always think you have in your house, the place where all the lost things go, it could be under your couch, like it has it's own magnetic field or something. All the misplaced items end up there and then eventually you strike gold and find them, along with a few dried vegetables and a dime.

What would you like to find under your couch? And what crazy things have you found under your couch?