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.