Sunday, September 21, 2014

KT 3: The Collective Experience

No two performances are identical. It's an impossibility. It doesn't matter if you have the same set list, night after night, or perform the same show day after day, there are always things that work one night that don't another. There are always moments that rock one time, and the next barely register. There are so many factors that affect this: mood of the cast, tiredness, being in the zone, distractions, illness etc. But one major factor is the audience. That is one thing that will certainly change every single night. You will never have identical reactions to something because everyone has their own experience and they will vary, even if that person came every night, because it's not just about you, one person in the crowd, it's about the collective experience.

On Friday I returned to the Apollo at Hammersmith - the journey becoming ingrained now - for my third KT Fellowship production of Before the Dawn. Now you're probably wondering what I'm going to be able to say that's different to the other two blogs, but there is always something to say.......

In the spirit of the opening song: Lily, from The Red Shoes album 1993, I changed the chorus lyrics for who was around me, because Block 4 in the Apollo was buzzing that night and it was the people around me that enriched the whole experience.

Tall guy before me
Knowledge guy behind me
Moustache to my right
Young kid on my left side
In the circle, Apollo

You know what it's like when you're at a seated gig and everyone is still? No one is moving and it feels like you're watching a box, not being immersed in some one's music and really fully experiencing it? I've had that countless times, and no matter how much you jig in your chair, if no one else is quite feeling it, then it affects your experience too. But not this night. Not Friday 19th September in Block 4 of the Circle at the Apollo. The atmosphere was insane and everyone was up for it.

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder, and it had actually been 17 days since the last time I saw Katie - I know, so long - and I could not stop smiling. And yes it was because the whole show is a triumph and her voice is strong and pure and melodically mesmerising, but it was more than that. I couldn't stop smiling because I had a fourteen year old kid sat next to me, who was loving every second and was barely still for a moment. I had a guy who went to the original tour in '79 in Manchester, sat on the other side of me, singing along to the songs, like I was. And behind us we had the walking, talking biography of everything Kate Bush - you get one at every gig - filling his friends in on every little detail and belting out the songs.

It was definitely a collective feeling, a feeling of community and shared experience, and it was also sprinkled with people on their second, or like me, their third visit. So there was more understanding, more connection with the piece as a whole, but there was also the joy of the stunned silences, watching as those first timers had no idea what was coming next. Part of the joy of Friday was listening to the people laugh, in exactly the places I'd laughed the first time, to see them charmed and shocked and embracing all of these emotions, as well as feeling every moment, as Kate did.

And this atmosphere that rocked the house also expanded on to the stage. It really is a shared experience. If your audience is happy, odds on you're going to give it some more, and push yourself and expose yourself and just give a little more. And Kate absolutely owned it! She was having so much fun and you could see her almost shock at how well it was still going down after 15 dates - this originally would have been closing night. Don't be shocked Kate. If you bring it, we bring it, and we all brought it.

Another aspect of this collective space is the interval and the discussions that erupt all around you like mini geysers. I had people asking me why I was jotting things down and if I was writing an article or something. Then of course we started discussing how we became fans, what we thought of the show, etc. There was knowledge guy behind me, still sprouting all the Kate Bush trivia he could at anyone that would listen. Kinda sweet really. Then you had the people that were so stunned and blown away that they could barely speak. They just watched the red feather curtain and just about managed to breathe.

One thing I think every person in the room agreed on was the lack of air conditioning becoming a problem. My god. if you weren't heavily perspiring then you must be the devil incarnate, because it was pretty darn toasty in there. And getting out afterwards was a nightmare - thank you to the guy who rudely stamped all over my feet and then didn't apologise, manners don't cost a thing, rude boy.

I think even Kate was astonished by the standing ovation for the entirety of her final song, and the fact that the applause never died down, She kept thanking us and we in turn continued to thank her. We would have happily stayed another twenty minutes or so, but she eventually got rid of us by wishing us a safe journey, thanking us once more and then running off stage.

Best Said By Bush

There are just some words or phrases in this world that are so much better said by Kate Bush, or sung by her of course. Here are some of my favourites from Friday:

  • 'Shit hot band,' and 'shit hot singers.'

Somehow these words beautifully enunciated by Kate really do take on a whole other meaning. But she really does have a shit hot band and she in turn is shit hot. She speaks the truth.

  • 'Blackbird.' 

The way this is sung in Waking the Witch and the other recurring times it is used as a linking tool, just raise the goose bumps. It's a call, it's a scream, it's a wail. It's pain and suffering and hope all in one word, and it's chilling!

  • 'Cloudburst,' and 'Tempest.' During Hello Earth - The Ninth Wave.

No one quite pulls off the imagery and feeling of these two words like Kate does. Again it's that enunciation and those cutting t's that make it almost her own word, like she reinvented it and made it something else.

Moments You Wished Lasted Longer

There are always moments you wish you could hold on repeat, outros you could listen to over and over, or lyrics that are gone too soon. Here are some of mine:

  • 'Get out of the waves, get out of the water.' From Hello Earth. 

The deep melody, the simple speech rhythm, and the movement it evokes make this one of my favourite repeated phrases that I would happily slip on the repeat button and listen to for hours. (I'm singing it right now.)

  • 'The wind it blows, the wind it blows, the door closed.' From King of the Mountain. 

Kate only actually sings this once, though the backing vocalists take over during what feels like an endless outro, but it is my favourite line - melodically and vocally - in the whole song, and stings the eyes every time. Strange how tiny bits of songs can really do something to you.

  • 'This moment in time. (She said) It doesn't belong to you. (She said) It belongs to me.....' From Jig of Life. 

I just love this section of the song. Again this is something that gets stuck in my head and I am now singing this over and over as I type.

To use Katie's phrase of the night, it really was, 'shit hot'. But not just the musicians and singers and actors and puppeteers and lighting and sound guys, and of course Kate herself. No. It was also about the crowd, that coming together of hundreds of people in a shared experience, a collective, and as Kate herself said just before the interval: 'It's all about you.' The crowd. It's not about her, It's about the fans and the experience, and I challenge you not to be singing the outro from Cloudbusting as you leave.

Three down, one to go. I can't believe three quarters of my Kate Bush time is over. Over but never forgotten. Wednesday is the final show I will be attending and I hope I find more to tell you and report back on, But for now, 'I put this moment......over here.' (Jig of Life: The Ninth Wave 1985)

Many thanks for reading


1 comment:

  1. Those moments of pleasure: where she "dings and dongs", where she chirps and tweets, where her voice begins with a lyric and then becomes an instrument. I never noticed before how the melody at the start of Prelude mimics the birdsong "Don't grow old, Bertie". I've been enjoying your BTD reviews.


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