Friday, September 26, 2014

KT 4: A Restricted View

The final time. When you know it's the final time you'll see and hear something - at least until the live DVD comes out, hopefully in time for Christmas. When you know this is it. No more.......

Shame that's the night all the tall people came, and they all had seats in front of me. Hard to connect fully with something when you have to keep constantly ducking and weaving around the melon shape of the massive head in front of you, blocking out all but two thin slivers of the stage. And it wasn't like we were standing, this was circle seating and not far from where I had sat at KT 2 or KT 3. I guess my luck had to run out sometime.

Katie lived up to her enigma status as she disappeared and reappeared whenever I could duck around bighead long enough to catch a glimpse. She became this tiny creature caught between two people's necks, or seen through two people's heads. I'd lose her and then find her again, with always her voice as a guide.

I did have a slight urge to decapitate the person in front of me, but I think that might have had something to do with the zombie book I'd been reading.

Unfortunately, it did become - at times - like watching a huge screen with part of the screen censored, and it was difficult to feel completely connected with the first half as I was too busy having to sit up, or slouch back, or peek around someone, to actually let it flow through me. Sometimes I closed my eyes and imagined what was happening on stage, fitting the image together from my memories of the first three times.

But Kate still managed to pull some tears from me, after all, this time was different. This was saying goodbye, admitting that I wouldn't be coming next week to see Kate again. This was farewell to the goddess of song, and hopefully not for another 35 years.

The theme of nature running through the whole show had me thinking of Kate in terms of a Mother Nature figure. Can't think of anyone better really. Our bare footed bush. Bush the bird. Bush the blackbird, more specifically. And if you haven't seen the ending and you're waiting for the DVD, think the art work from Never for Ever.

In a way I feel I have said most of what I want to say about this amazing woman, her fellowship and her fantastic show. Every night has held its own wonder and enchantment, and even with a restricted view this time, I shed a tear, I sang along, and Kate shared her vision with each and every one of us.

With only four dates left, it's coming to the end for Before the Dawn. Maybe Kate will disappear into obscurity again, or maybe just maybe, this positive experience for her and her family, will lead to more shows, or at least some public appearances. Don't disappear Kate. Now we've seen you, we want you around more. No one sees the world quite like you, and no one tells a story quite like you.


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


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Feeling Meh (Excuse the sheer amount of commas)

Do you know that feeling when you're heading towards the end of something, something you've been working towards for a really long time, and it would mean a goal achieved, and it's all you want, yet the closer you get, the further away it squirms like a dirty fat slug?

Please say you know what I mean. 

GRRRRRRRR. It's the novel. It's almost done and I know what I want to say and I pretty much know how I want it to end, but every time I sit down to write it, I end up throwing in another chapter, pushing the ending further away, or getting drowned in - albeit clever -  banter like dialogue that isn't particularly necessary. But the damn ending is. 

I hate that sometimes beginning something and working your ass off at something can give you so much pleasure, and it can completely absorb you, but then comes the doubt and the negativity which draws away from your goal. What happens when I finish it? Years of edits? Reams of rejections? What if I just keep on writing it forever and never finish it? Then I'll never have to deal with the after crap. 

Of course this is ridiculous, because if I write a stupidly long novel like my first one, that was part and parcel of the reason that I needed the years of edits. But this novel is fairly concise and I'm happy with the length and the story and blah, blah, blah. So why can't I just finish off this bastard and squish the damn slug?

It's that pesky head of mine getting in the way again. I know what I want it to do, but it seems to have it's own agenda, and one that I'm not privy to. Sometimes I just wanna shake myself, physically shake all the crap, doubt, distractions and negativity out of me, but then I wonder if the ending would still be there. What if I shake that out too?

I don't think it helps that I now have a self imposed deadline of Thursday next week, as we go on holiday on Friday and I want it finished, so that it can all just rest and sit and stew, whilst I turn off my head - unlikely but I can try - and enjoy a break from this world. But of course that adds a level of pressure I never had with the rest of the book, and sometimes deadlines work for me, other times a deadline makes me procrastinate for Britain until the last possible moment, then I cram everything on the final night. 

I'm so ready to finish, but I'm not so sure I'm ready to let go of the feeling of writing a novel, which greatly surpasses the feeling of having to end a novel, to say goodbye to those characters you've been honing and developing and giving up all of your time to. They're like children that only exist in your head. Which is a weird thing to say, but as you can tell I'm in a weird mood today. I live and breathe every moment they do and sometimes that affects my moods and the way I think, because I become so wrapped up in their lives that it can sometimes overpower my own. 

Wow, I feel like I just spewed up words on the page. Not a lot of this probably makes sense, but bear with me. I'm hungry and irritable and meh and all out of sorts, and the big bad is coming for my characters and I can't even hurry up and end it for them. Some shit is going down in these last few chapters, and the anticipation could possibly kill a couple of them off. 

My word I'm hungry and this weather is borderline dystopian. That weird greyness hanging every morning, giving way to an almost nuclear sun in the afternoons, it's creeping me out big style. Something is just not sitting right at the moment. Something has shifted and feels wrong. But at least Scotland didn't kick us to the curb, because I was feeling pretty weird about that too. 

Now this was started about fifteen minutes ago and just goes to show how much you can hurl out when you need to. This wasn't so much a rant as a personal therapy session. I read something the other day about how people writing about their feelings or worries can actually help you to deal with them and put that thought or problem out of your head, onto something else or into something else. Well, this is pretty much what I do ninety percent of the time anyway, because that's how I work, but today I physically needed this. I needed my words to splurge out in a random torrent and my fingers to dare to keep up with them. I needed some of this just out of my body - to make room for all the monstrous amounts of pasta I'm now going to eat - and most of all I just needed to share it with someone. I may not be great at speaking the words, but the words are in me and they need to find a way out. This is it. 

Thanks for the free therapy. I needed it. 


Friday, September 12, 2014


Hello. I gotta get this blog out quick before my mind catches up with me and the new novel takes over again. It is reluctant to share head space, thus the lack of ranting recently. It has taken over, gained control of me and the only reason I can write this blog is because I've distracted the novel by reading lots. That part of my brain is now thinking about The Grisha (Shadow and Bone - The Grisha Book 1 - Leigh Bardugo.) and I carved out a tiny chunk of space for the rants to breed. But I have to be quick because there's no telling how long The Grisha can hold my new novel at bay. After all, it is a horror. AHHHHHHHHH!

Okay, so anyone else terrified of spiders? Yes, it's so obvious and I wish I could lay claim to be unaffected by the multi-legged monsters, but that would be a damn straight lie. Genuine terror is what I feel and all the reports about spiders under your toilet seats and house spiders taking over the world are not helping. Every time I check facebook there's a post about them, or a photograph of one someone found in their house, or a video of some guy poking a spiders web and out popping a monstrous beast.

This is not helpful to those who are genuinely scared. I cannot get through a day without some sort of pictoral evidence of their plan to attack. It seems that we may soon be overrun by overgrown house spiders. And people try to shirk off my irrational fear. I think more and more would agree that it's completely rational. And when they start to take over the world eating humans in the process, don't say I didn't warn you. They may catch and eat flies, but soon they'll be catching even bigger creatures for dinner. Watch out!

Ticket Spewing Machines 
Armed with a 40% voucher, we headed to the cinema last night. I always find it amusing that the self serve ticket machines have little to no manners. It really doesn't take much and with technology as it is today, surely the machines should be better at manners than the humans?

So you touch the button that says: pick up previously bought tickets. Then immediately it says: waiting for card to be inserted. Er, sorry, when did you ask for my card to be inserted? So you reluctantly insert your card and it obtains the details, blah, blah, blah, and then it says: awaiting removal of your card. Just ask. Just say: please remove your card. It's not difficult to be polite about this. And then as a final lack of manners, it spews out the tickets so fast that they always fall to the floor, because the little thing that's meant to catch them has even less courtesy than the machine itself. Come on Odeon. Sort it out. More courteous machines please.

I know I complain about the buses a lot, but when a supposed 21 minute journey takes 40 minutes and you are still no where near the destination, and you have to jump off and take the tube, which costs a heck of a lot more, when you could have just taken the tube in the first place, but were trying to take the cheaper option, it sort of pisses you off a little. I wouldn't mind if I was just going somewhere by myself, but I was picking up a little boy from school. And it was the first time I had picked him up since the start back, I could hardly be late. That would look great.

So, when I went to pick him up yesterday, I set off about fifteen minutes earlier than that which gave me a whole hour and fifteen minutes to get there. Of course I arrived half and hour early. Cannot win. Law of the sod.

I mentioned the novel taking over. It really has. I am desperate to get it all out there before our holiday in a couple of weeks. It's touch and go, but I might make it. Yesterday I passed through the milestone of 50k words and I should hopefully be done by 70k, fingers crossed. It definitely isn't a long, long one, like my other novels.

I'm so absorbed though, that the characters emotions are actually affecting mine. It's bizarre. The other day I was sort of annoyed and upset and felt complete injustice, but it wasn't me that had had a massive argument with my mum, essentially being told that I couldn't be trusted to look after my brothers and sisters. It wasn't me that wasn't trusted in my own house. It wasn't me that was deemed slightly crazy. But I was still feeling all that. Well, I guess I really am living, breathing and feeling my characters. It makes them so real. They live through me and I through them. Okay, so maybe I am slightly crazy.........

Paper scraps
The notes for this blog were written on the back of the Odeon receipt from last night, as I stupidly walked out without my miscellaneous-anything-goes-notebook. Instead I'd left the house with only my novel-specific-notebook, a mistake I won't be making again, though it did transport me back to Uni when I used to write song lyrics on envelopes and train tickets and anything I could get my hands on. The joy of being a writer. Receipts and paper scraps are so much more than paper to be recycled, they can be the formation of worlds, the creation of characters, or a list of things to blog about.

Whoop! I managed to knock out a quick blog. It won't be long before The Grisha admit defeat and the novel punches through the ranks. Thank you for reading. More when I can. But keep this between me and you, I wouldn't like them to figure out our plan.........



Thursday, September 4, 2014

KT 2: From A Loftier Perch

It is almost impossible to recreate a feeling once felt, to emulate an event already encountered. You can never un-see it or un-feel it, and you are unlikely to experience that again. You can never quite capture that initial shock or excitement or sheer exasperation, but that doesn't stop us going back and say re-watching a film, or putting a song on repeat. Just because we can't land that first encounter emotion again, doesn't mean we can't go back and pull more from it. Often with multiple watches or listens, a piece can present more questions, it can answer some, it can enlighten us, it can change our minds, it can offer more, and it can create links. And it is often after a numbered listen that we catch a stray lyric that has always haunted us, or identify with a background noise, or discover a kick ass bass line. A first encounter is also surrounded by a sort of shield of awe and unexpectedness that can leave you overwhelmed and unable to fully process what you are seeing or hearing. Therefore, any additional viewing can only aid your understanding of the artist and their work.

So Tuesday night saw me return to Hammersmith for another dose of Before The Dawn. One thing I am quite happy to report is that things certainly haven't quietened down. The buzz that surrounds the Apollo is a living being, feeding off the expectant and slightly hysterical Kate fans, and it stretches across the roads into the shopping centre and tube station. As soon as you get anywhere near Hammersmith you start to pick out the Katie fans, those holding themselves back attempting not to break into a rendition of Wow. The energy is already mounting before you even reach the queue in front of the venue, and the merchandise sprawl is still non-negotiable. The amount of Katie tweets appearing in your feed might have ebbed, but this tour is still going strong and the feeling is electric.

I was in the circle tonight and quite far back, thus my loftier perch, but in a way that not only gave me a new perspective - a birds eye view if you like - but it almost allowed me to detach myself from that eye level connection with the stage and float above it all, to experience it a different way.

Before the show started we were given the 10 minute call and the five minute call, and I realised again how Katie manages to bring that level of mystery and understatement to her tour. We are told that in ten minutes the performance of Before the Dawn will commence, but there's no mention of her by name. It's a show by her and starring her, but not about her. It's about the story and the songs, and how she weaves them together to form the greater narrative.

I have to say it is slightly strange when you can anticipate which song is coming next, but when you know you're getting some corkers, you get over it pretty quick. This time round her vocal licks and embellishments were freer. She was experimenting and losing herself in the moment, which had some wonderful effects on the atmosphere and also showed her having fun. As expected the set list was strict and tight and this was because what you were actually seeing was the world's most bizarre yet beautifully constructed musical, written by and starring the goddess herself, with a large ensemble cast and chorus.

It seemed the performers were also playing around a bit with the scripted parts and just bouncing off the audience reactions. The house scene was like something out of a Weasley family exchange at the Burrow. It had that kind of feel to it. And I love the Toad in the Hole mention - my favourite meal as a kid and still in my top three now.

I mentioned the likeness to a musical - obviously one of the highest quality - and I feel that was further shown at the end of the first half, when all the cast came back on stage for the final song and there are even choreographed dance moves. It nicely rounds off that act, and sets up the second half.

Looking down from on high made me feel like the clouds of the storm, or the birds in her Sky of Honey, or the clouds she will later be busting. Being in the circle feels like you're more of an observer than a participant. But being in the stalls, on a level with the stage created a feeling of somehow being involved and contained within the action. I'm glad to have experienced both, as it definitely gives you a varied perspective.

What became clear on this second viewing was how everything is beautifully linked. At first look there are three clear sections to the show, but when you delve deeper, it is one narrative with branches off here and there to expand and continue the story. And it is about the the way her voice, the band, the performers, screens, additional effects and lighting all contribute to make the piece a whole. There are repeated themes and motifs which aid the cohesion of the work and it is never static. It pulses, undulates, zooms and whooshes. It presses you down, soars up high and hovers in between. It heightens the senses, pulls, gnaws and tears at the emotions and is tied together with a lovely Cloudbusting bow.

I got so much more out of the second half this time round and even more from the show as a whole because I was starting to see it as it should be seen: as a whole show. Everything that was done was carefully and meticulously planned in order to propel the story forward; from the lights to the repeated themes and vocal licks; the clouds and the storm, to the wind whistling through the house. This is a feat of engineering, technology and above all imagination. And boy did she pull it off.

I eventually managed to bag myself a bit of merchandise by Running up that Hill, well actually legging it down the steps, at the interval and charging to the merchandise stand. I overheard some interesting conversations, including a debate on whether the Ninth Wave appeared on Hounds of Love or The Sensual World. Duh!  I had to jump in on that one, couldn't help myself. And once more I have been in a room with Kate Bush. Honoured doesn't quite cover it.

There's a bit of a wait until KT number 3, so normal rants may resume.
Thanks for reading.


Oh and here is my Kate Bush themed birthday cake from last week. Taken from a page in the programme, modified and recreated by my extremely talented mother. And it's pretty darn tasty too.